We here at Rainbow Gold Reviews would like to welcome Victor Alexander. He has graciously let us interview him on the last day of our Trans Aware Event.
- What does Transgender mean to you?
J I’m actually really glad you asked me that. I just recently got done explaining the concept of transgenderism to two very different people in very different situations. One was my new primary care doctor at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lakeland and the other was a cisgender, straight black man on Twitter. Both of them wanted to know what being transgender was/or the rules of transgenderism, or how to explain being transgender to someone, and both of them were coming at it from different directions. My doctor was coming at it from the angle of curiosity, wanting to know so she would be able to treat me and other transgender people, and also because I’ve noticed that most doctors/academics/nerds (like myself) have a burning need to know everything about everything. The “Twitter guy’s” curiosity was because of an incident that had arisen within the black community on a radio show known as the “Breakfast Club” where an entertainer: Lil’ Duval made a very hateful, callous, inciteful, and transphobic remark in regards to Janet Mock, a well-known black transwoman, that propelled many to call for a boycott of the show, an apology from the entertainers, and more.
I told both of them that being transgender means many things for many different people. My doctor knew I was transgender because it’s in her chart, but the “Twitter guy” did not. Most people on Twitter don’t if they’re new to following me. Why? I don’t hide it, but I don’t flaunt it either. It’s not in every tweet. I don’t start every tweet with: As a trans* man… Just like I don’t start every tweet with: As a gay man… or As a black man… As a single father… As a Jewish man… As a Bajan… As someone with Cherokee heritage… As a writer… etc.
Being transgender (I told them) means that your biological physical body doesn’t always fit or conform to societal norms of gender. This includes those who are genderqueer, genderfluid, bigender, etc. Society tells them they are supposed to be one thing because of how their biological bodies appear, but their minds, their souls, their spirits, their hearts, their personalities, don’t match up.
Imagine if you will that when you look in the mirror, you see Brad Pitt (or in my case: Shemar Moore-yummy!), but when you look down, you see the body of Angelina Jolie (Gabrielle Union). And when you go out in public or even when you interact with people they call you Angelina (Gabrielle) but you can’t figure out why they can’t see that you’re really Brad (Shemar). You’ve tried to live as Angelina (Gabrielle) because obviously if everyone sees that, they must be correct, right? But doing that makes you miserable, depressed-sometimes suicidal, because you think as if you’re Brad (Shemar), your personality is like Brad (Shemar), when you see other Brads (Shemars) around you, you identify more with them, than you do the Angelinas (Gabrielles) around you. Your body is not your own and you have known it for a while.
That’s what being transgender is to me.
- When did you realize you were born in the wrong body? What steps have you taken to become the person you are today?
I think in some way I always knew. I was always more comfortable in shorts than skirts and dresses growing up. I always wanted to be with the boys, but if I couldn’t be with the boys, I’d rather be by myself, because I just knew someone would be able to tell what was going on with me. Be able to tell my secret. But I think the moment I can pinpoint as my ah-ha! moment was when I was 10. My mother, aunt, siblings, cousins, grandmother, one of my uncles, and I were going shopping for our Easter/Passover outfits and while we were in the department store my mother and I got into an argument over my dress. I wanted to wear a suit, and she kept telling me that suits were for boys. To me, that didn’t matter. I was supposed to be like the boys anyway. I wanted to go with them. We argued, and I think that may have been the one—and only—time I stomped my foot at my mother (children of color don’t usually do this, and if we do, we do it once and we get punished, no matter where we are-as I did). She pinched the underside of my arm…hard. Giving me what we called “a frog” (that’s when there’s a bubble of skin from the pinch that reminds you of the punishment. It remains for at least 30 minutes), but then we compromised. I got a collared, button-down dress with a white top and a yellow skirt, with a yellow and white diagonal stripe skinny tie, with a yellow vest. And I didn’t have to wear a hat like the girls. I wore one ponytail at the back of my head with yellow ribbons and white flat shoes.
As far as the steps I’ve taken: I’m on testosterone-shots. I’ve been on them since 2012. I had to stop for about a year (2015-2016) because of my strokes, TIAs, seizures, and hospital stays, but they’ve restarted. I had my name changed back in 2012. I got rid of my female clothing and I dress exclusively as I feel comfortable as the man I have always been. I have binders, packers, strap-ons. I get my hair done in a way that makes me feel good, and not in a way that people expect me to. I’ve come out to my family, to my daughter (who said-It’s about time…makes sense… and so?), and my friends, and I’m making other strides as well.
I think the biggest step that I’m making is that I stand up for transgender people, online and in real life. For me it’s not a matter of keeping silent because it would be easier. I spent over two decades hiding because I was afraid of what would happen to me, afraid of being disowned, afraid of violence. I’m out now, and I’m proud. And I know the statistics behind transgender violence. I speak up because I am a part of that community, because hiding to protect myself while they are suffering is such cowardice.
- Did you record your journey?
I did for a while on my blog and I do have a few pictures, but it wasn’t really recording my transitioning journey, just my journey in life. I’m a private person and I don’t really like people in my business that much, but I do have plans to write about my coming to terms with my truth, and then my transitioning, but that’s later on down the road. Right now I’m writing a non-fiction book about dealing with coming to terms with being black and the self-hatred I dealt with for years, and how that was projected into a negative view/image of black women because of my transgenderism and the images of black people in media and the things I heard growing up. So I will touch on my being transgender and being gay, but it won’t be the main focus, but there will be pictures.
- What did friends and family say when you told them?
I got disowned by most of them. My granny, however, accepted me when I came out to her and said she still loved me. Some of my friends have come back around, my core group of friends never wavered-because they said they always suspected and were just waiting for me to figure it out, and some of my family have gotten to the point where it’s something we “don’t discuss”. It’s a “we support you but don’t accept it.” Their version of “love the sinner but hate the sin.” -rolls eyes- Each time they come over, however, I talk to them and wear them down I think. LOL. My dad has accepted it. My baby sister has completely accepted and embraced me, she even brings me up to the family to sort of rub that Jewish guilt in their faces every so often. And as I said, my daughter is probably my biggest fan.
- What as an ally do you want us to know, how can we help?
One of the biggest issues I run into with allies is that they still try to put transgender people into a box. We don’t fit into boxes. We are, by our very existence, people who do not fit, who do not, cannot conform into society’s box of what is “acceptable” and “normal.” So if someone is a transgender woman, you can’t expect them to want to look like a woman completely. Not every trans woman does. Some just need to be able to acknowledge, to express that truth to someone else, or to themselves. Some don’t need to use the female bathrooms, and some want to have a gender neutral stall where they can go by themselves. The biggest thing is that with transgender people, we are a lot more scared of cisgender people, even allies, than you are of us. Because even with an ally by my side, I don’t know if you’re going to stand by my side all the time, completely, if the angry mob attacks, or if you’re going to slip off to safety, or if, in trying to save my life, you’re not going to turn to me and say: “Can’t you just put the packer in your bag and wear a bra? Then they’ll leave us alone. It will be much less dangerous for you.”
I live with the danger every. Single. Day. And I appreciate my allies, I do but, transgender people of color, especially transgender women, are killed at an extremely high rate. So, more support is needed. More visibility is definitely needed. In books, on television, on book covers, etc. We are here. We exist. We have normal jobs, we have families, we love, it’s not hard to talk to one of us, to learn about our struggle, our journey, or who we are. We’re unique, but we’re just people. Remember that and stop ignoring us, and erasing us. Remember that transgender people are the ones who led the way to getting the LGBTQ community to where we are today, if you are an ally, and you support gay people, and lesbian people, bisexual people, but you’re having an issue with transgender people, I have to question if you’re really an ally.
- What are some misperceptions about the trans community that are portrayed in pop culture?
Ohhh man. Let’s see, all transwomen want men and all trans men want women.
That all trans men are white… Yeah I have MAJOR issue with that. I have seen I think ONE trans man of color on television (and my memory could be slightly off by one or two) and that was on Queen Sugar on OWN and that was two weeks ago. Seriously.
That all trans people get surgeries done, go through transitions, hide their true identities from people, and/or are on drugs.
That trans people don’t have children. I’m the BIGGEST example that’s not true.
- Being a trans man, was it easier to write a trans character? What research did you do for the characters in your books?
I think that’s another misconception, that just because you are trans that means that you don’t have to do any research, yourself. That’s just not true. I have a book: Daddy’s Boy that I wrote. I wrote it as a contemporary because of some of my friends in the medical field, doctors I’d spoken to who were working on gender reassignment surgery, and the strides they were making, and I knew that while right now, this year we are not at a point where trans* men can have penis transplants, I know that is coming a lot sooner than people realize. So, I wrote the book not as a fantasy, not as scifi, but as contemporary. But it still required research on my part. Not just on the medical part, but on the mental part. That’s the biggest thing, when you are a transgender author, writing about transgender people, you can write the character from your viewpoint, from your experiences, but that gives you a limited worldview. To really round them out, to give them more depth, you want to talk to other people. I’ve talked to other trans people and one trans man told me about how when he leaves his home, he wears a skirt, blouse, a bra, stockings, heels, his hair down in curls, nails on, makeup on, etc. He goes to work, the store, to visit family, to his kids’ school, wherever, as a woman. But when he comes home, he goes into his bathroom, and he strips down, he takes off everything, his nails are the kind you can pop on and off, he takes off his makeup, he pulls his hair into a tight French braid and tucks it beneath a stocking cap, puts on a binder, puts on a pair of boxer briefs, slips in his packer, puts on a t-shirt and shorts, and is himself. His husband calls him by his male name, and his kids know that at home he’s “Daddy” and outside he’s “Mommy”, they think it’s a fun game. Why the need for it all? Because where he lives, being transgender is illegal and he can be killed for it.
I research stuff like that so that I keep those people and their struggles, their truths, their stories with me with every character and every story that I wrote. When I created the four genders in The Scandalous Whispers of the Remmington Realm series from Dreamspinner Press, his story was one of the ones that stuck with me. He is infused into one of the characters who is supposed to be one thing, but knows deep within himself that he’s something else. The characters of TSWotRR fall into either: Male-Men, Male-Women, Female-Men, or Female-Women, and they’re essentially intersexual, cisgender, and transgender characters where “men” can get pregnant, and “women” can impregnate either “men” or “women”, in an alternative universe, but set during a historically accurate (in our time) time period.
I was and am, writing this series for my fellow transgender men and women, especially those of color, because there are a lot of people of color in these books, as there were during the Regency time period (POC have been around forever-imagine that!), because we deserve to be seen. We deserve to be written about. And we deserve to be the true love interest and not fetishized.
Thank you so much for doing this and for having me. I appreciate it.
Some of Victor’s work includes:
In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages.
Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation.
After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.
Where to buy:
Orley Garrick is known throughout Angland not only as the man with two dukedoms but also as the hero who survived a brutal kidnapping at the hands of Nafoleon’s army, never once betraying the secrets of His Majesty. Still haunted by his memories, Orley pushes his crippled body to dangerous limits, all in an attempt to run from the demons of his past.
Until he meets Chester Boland, a maid in his friend’s household. Orley is besieged by desire for this gorgeous male woman, and by a connection he cannot ignore. But there are those within the Remmington Realm who take issue with the Duke’s choice—especially given Chester’s Tafrican lineage.
Having stared death in the face and won, Orley proposes they steal away and elope. However, before they can begin their new life, they uncover dangerous secrets that go deeper than they could ever imagine—involving those they trust the most.
Orley and Chester must discover exactly how deep these secrets run before their enemies make sure Chester is removed from Orley’s arms… forever.
Where to buy:
What about if he inhabited the body of your adopted daughter?
Former drug addict, turned state prosecutor, Shane Occena has to deal with this when the little girl he rescues one night, named Shawna, declares that she’s the reincarnation of his brother Shawn, that he’d lost over eight years before. Feeling a connection to Shawna that can’t be talked away, Shane begins the adoption process and gains custody. When Shawna begins acting like Shawn, Shane takes her to see Child Psychologist, Tucker Ames. And that’s when his life really changes.
Dr. Tucker Ames spends his days talking with children helping them heal from their scars and come to grips with their gender issues and sexuality, and his nights alone, hoping for a family of his own. When he meets Shane and Shawna Occena, he finally feels as if he’s met the family that’s destined to be his. But first he has to help Shawna heal from her childhood, Shane heal from his scars, and find a way to help Shawn cross over to the other side.
But when allegations are brought against Shane and Tucker’s family descends on this makeshift family in Pensacola, will Tucker and Shane be able to stay together and be the parents that Shawna so desperately need? And will Shawn ever let go of his hold on Shawna and finally ascend to the afterlife? Tucker and Shane may think that they are Raising Shawna, but in the end, she may be the one to raise them all.