Hey guys! I’ve been waiting all weekend to post this interview with musician/activist Ryan Cassata! He was playing a show this weekend at the local Vibe Lounge, so he didn’t really have a chance to get back to me until last night. I’m really excited about this interview, and I hope you all enjoy it! For those of you who are first-timers hearing the name Ryan Cassata, check out the other interview I did with him, where you can also find his music links! This time, we discussed transgender issues and how he’s been doing since his January top surgery. Thanks for your usual honesty and cooperation, Ryan!
Cait Uncensored: How long have you positively identified as a member of the transgender community?
Ryan Cassata: Since age 14 – so four years.
Cait Uncensored: How has this affected your relationships with other people?
RC: Mostly my relationships have been affected positively because I have become a more confident person. Some relationships have altered because some people are not open minded. Many of my extended family members have had a lot of trouble accepting my transition and this made our relationships take a turn for the worse. My relationship with my older brother has been really great since I came out to him because coming out to him made us bond. He’s been one of my biggest support systems.
Cait Uncensored: What is gender dysphoria, for those who don’t know the term?
RC: To me, gender dysphoria is the extreme hatred and discomfort towards your body because you don’t feel the sex you were assigned at birth.
Cait Uncensored: Have you ever had feelings of gender dysphoria, self-consciousness, depression, frustration or anxiety when you were first discovering you were transgender? Does it still exist?
RC: I went through a really hard time when I first came out and I went through a very hard time when I told my parents that I needed to get top surgery and they made me wait. I went through really dark times with depression due to not being able to get my top surgery when I felt I needed to get it. I had very bad gender dysphoria before my top surgery. I still have a little gender dysphoria but it definitely isn’t bad. I haven’t felt depressed about my body since before getting top surgery. I think I am lucky to feel this way, especially because I haven’t been on hormones.
Cait Uncensored: How did/do you continue to get through it?
RC: For me, playing music helps me get through these struggles. I’ve written a lot of songs about these struggles and about transitioning in general. I also like to journal. It helps to let out any fires that are building inside of me due to feelings of discomfort about my body.
Cait Uncensored: Who has helped you solve this problem? (if it applies)
RC: When I was in high school I had a lot of help learning to accept myself from the school social worker. They helped me be happy with who I am.
CU: Do you have a large group of other transgender friends you are close with who you talk through your issues about?
RC: Yeah, I have many transgender friends. We definitely discuss our issues together a lot and I believe that it helps us all. There is also a strong transgender female to male community on youtube and by watching these videos I feel less alone.
CU: Has anyone ever responded to your identity as trans in a negative way? How did you deal with it?
RC: That is explained in this YouTube video on my channel, here. http://youtu.be/qm7N1mCbmTo
CU: Who is one famous transgender (if any) member of society who you have been inspired by? How did they help you achieve all your goals and be comfortable with your identity?
RC: I think Charles Asher was one of the first transguys that I watched on youtube. I really looked up to him quite a bit because he was different. Like me, he had long hair, which was a bold thing for a transgender female to male person to have. It was really cool and I admired him a lot for it. His videos gave me a lot of strength when I was first coming out and coming to terms with myself.
CU: How has your top surgery helped you to identify with the gender in which you feel comfortable? (FTM) Has it presented any challenges for you thus far?
RC: The privilege of being a post-operative transgender man, having top surgery, has given me a lot of inner strength and courage. For the first time in my life I feel normal. I can’t explain what normal feels like or compare it to anything relative to anyone else. I just know what normal feels like for me, Ryan. I feel 100% Ryan right now and it’s absolutely wonderful. I’m really lucky.
The only challenge that I have faced after having top surgery is that some people think of it as disgusting or disrespectful. I’ve gotten a lot of negative comments from people that I know. Some people have went to the extreme of telling my Mom that pictures of me (post-operative) shirtless are inappropriate and I shouldn’t have them on the internet.
CU: What is one thing you would like to teach the world about the transgender community in order to create a better overall understanding of trans people in general?
RC: I would like everyone to know that transgender people are just regular people. Transgender people aren’t trying to be different and most of us do not want to be so different. Also, it’s very possible to live a “normal” life as a transgender person. Success can be found just like with any other person.