(they/them + he/him)

4th June 2018:

Lee and Ryan meet Dorian, an artist and writer from Melbourne who uses he/him and they/them pronouns. Among other things, they talk about video games, the importance of community spaces for older trans folks, barriers to accessing appropriate health care, the possibilities for playing with identity that Live Action Role Playing offers and carving out a queer-inclusive space in pagan and witchcraft communities. The three also reflect on shared experiences of ‘queer’ as an empowering identifier or quasi-label, and the societal pressure to be 100% certain of one’s identity.


D: My name is Dorian Manticore, I am an artist and writer from Melbourne, Australia. And I use he/him and they/them pronouns, and it changes on context.


L: Maybe if we can jump straight into it, I’d love to know what kind of context you prefer, because I think that’s something is quite common, that people prefer different pronouns in different contexts.


D: Since I have a fairly obviously masculine presenting way of dressing and appearing, I do enjoy using they pronouns when I’m amongst other people who are non-binary or trans. Because I feel like it increases a sense of camaraderie and community and understanding of non-binary experiences. But I also don’t enjoy entering into women and non-binary spaces, or spaces that are designed for assigned female at birth people, because of the, y’know, that kind of appearance that I have, and that social perception may have of me. So, on the other hand, there aren’t a lot of exclusively non-binary spaces, so a lot of support networks that I access are designed for men, or queer men, or gay men. So, it’s kind of, the context being, sometimes I might want to present in a more traditionally binary masculine fashion so that I can actually access community and supports and fit in, in other places. I can’t fit into more feminine spaces, because I feel like I can’t have my cake and eat it too – kind of scenario? – so that’s what the context means for me.


R: Do you think that things are changing in that regard?


D: I think there’s a lot of community spaces that are accessible to young people. But I’m currently 32, and a lot of spaces are available for people up to the age of about 25. When you’re a bit older, they kind of dry up a bit. So it’s more easy to access spaces for trans friendly cis-men, or male-identified individuals, because – yeah like, I think there is a fantastic amount of work being done for young people, that kind of thing didn’t exist when I was younger – but unfortunately now I’m a little older it still kinda doesn’t exist for me.


L: This is jumping ahead as well, but I was wondering if you see yourself as being part of a trans community, or part of a queer community, and how you conceptualize your space in it?


D: When I was younger, I didn’t have access to queer community at all. But as I’ve gotten older, the majority of my friends are queer. I don’t really consider myself to be part of the queer community, because it’s so diverse, and there’s so many people, and…Although to be honest, everyone in my social circle has probably got like the 6 degrees of separation thing happening to every other queer person in Melbourne [laughs].


But yeah, it kinda fell into place that, it’s just something that my general social communities have in common, it’s something that binds us together – rather than that being the basis of community. It’s usually other things that tie us together, like live action role playing or videogames or something else like that.


L: I was going to ask what kind of things you’re into? What kind of things interest you? What do you like doing?


D: The spheres that take up most of my time would be pop culture stuff, like videogames and science fiction and fantasy, and things like that. I’m also active in LARPing and I’m quite involved in the pagan community and witchcraft communities as well.


L: I’d love to chat about those things, if that’s alright? Firstly, I’d just like to kick off and ask what kind of videogames you like?


D: I mostly enjoy single-player narrative-driven experiences. I’m not really a big fan of multi-player stuff. Videogaming for me is a fairly solitary habit, and it’s something that, rather than playing with other people, I like to like, finish a game and then talk about it with my friends afterwards. So I tend to prefer ones that are very plot-driven, things like BioShock or Spec Ops: The Line; those are some of my favorites. I quite enjoy some indie games as well. Like I did really like Undertale and Outlast, and horror games and science fiction games, and post-apocalypses are my favorites.


L: I’m with you 100%. I love those games. I just got a VR set up at my house yesterday, and I bought Paranormal Activity. I don’t know if you’ve ever played it?


D: [laughs] No –


L: I love horror as an entertainment thing, but this is the most afraid I’ve ever been while being entertained. I had to literally stop playing – and I like have a really high bar for horror and fear. Anyway, I wanna hear more about LARPing and what takes your fancy!


D: It can be a really fantastic opportunity to play with identity. It’s kind of like, I’m sure everyone in this day and age is familiar with what Dungeons & Dragons is, like tabletop role-playing, its like that except instead of having dice or anything like that, you’re physically acting out what’s happening. And occasionally there are some fantasy elements, because you can’t – you might be throwing like a foam ball at someone, rather than a fireball, cos there’s, y’know, you’re still constrained by reality. But it’s a lot of fun, and its really enjoyable, and people can become very involved in their characters, and they can feel a lot of real emotions, and a lot of genuine experiences in this constrained fantasy universe. It’s kind of a consensual group hallucination for a couple of hours.


Yeah, it’s something that I love dearly, because it gives you an opportunity to play at being something that you wouldn’t normally in your everyday life. A lot of people like, find that they like playing a particular kind of character. Perhaps its – someone in their daily life might be a really sweet, gentle person that they have this itch that they want to scratch – where they like really enjoy being a horrible, evil bastard! And that can give them an opportunity to do that. Or it can give people an opportunity to play with their gender roles. There’s a lot of gender play in LARPing. There’s no reason why you can’t play a character that is different from your own gender, or anything like that. It’s just a really fantastic opportunity for personal growth in my opinion. But its also just fun and dorky. It’s really dorky [laughs].


L: I love that, I’ve never thought about it as a way to play with your identity. If people are listening, is there a way that you might encourage them to get involved in some kind of area of this in their own communities, or…?


D: There’s a website called, I thin, it is? They have all kind of conventions. They also list a lot of role-playing events. There is a lot of different communities around in Australia, and – just googling on Facebook, or having a search around for a LARPing. There’s live action battle games like swordcraft that are phenomenally popular – like thousands of people. And then there’s smaller, intimate games. There’s a group local to Melbourne called Caligo Mundi. They also have smaller, what are called parlor games – so they’re less focused on combat and more on an event that lasts just one evening. And sometimes there are really intense 3 day games as well, that are around. They’re usually run by people in the community, so they’re not usually like big commercial affairs, or anything.


R: Are there any other things you like to do, that you’d like to talk about?


D: I think its worth talking about witchcraft stuff a bit?


I’m a member of an organization called the Pagan Collective of Victoria. And we try very hard to put on a lot of events and things to connect with people. Cos when I was younger, I started practicing a form of witchcraft and paganism – but I was very young, probably about 12 years old. And I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t really have access to any other people to tell me, or guide me, or have any kind of teachers. And over the last 5 years or so, I’ve really thrown myself into actually meeting people, rather than just reading books. And its really rewarding.


I think for a lot of queer people, many people might find themselves really disenfranchised with mainstream religion. I know I certainly was, when I was growing up. I was raised in a kind of vaguely Christian-ish household, vaguely Christina-ish society, and I didn’t always feel like I fit in. I had a lot of conflict there. But its not something that I was willing to completely cut out of my life – I always felt like there was something more to existence. And that’s how I essentially fell into paganism. There’s quite a lot of queer pagan groups around the world. There’s one in Australia called Queer Pagan Men, which is one of those groups I use he/him pronouns at. They’re a wonderful supportive community, but I also started my own queer magical tradition called Sovereigns of the Golden Path. I started that because a lot of witchcraft and pagan traditions are still very binary, ad that can be very alienating for people who are fleeing from, or trying to seek refuge from, mainstream religion where they felt they couldn’t fit in. Only to find in witchcraft and pagan communities that they have very strict, if not gender roles then the language that they use can be very rigid, and the metaphors and the mythology they use – like a god and a goddess. And that can be very disheartening I think for a lot of people. It’s kind of disappointing to get into something that is socially so subversive only to find that its still replicating the kind of things that make you feel really uncomfortable.


So I have started the Sun Cult as a safe haven for people who feel that they aren’t really well-fitted to other forms of paganism.


D: It’s a tradition aimed entirely at queer people and queer experiences, so there’s a lot of focus on healing, and examining parts of ourselves that we might have, like, absorbed. A lot of self-hatred, a lot of messages that seep into us from society and a lot of negativity and a lot of queer people have a lot of mental illness problems and also, its extraordinarily, horrifically common, for queer and trans people to come from very unsupportive families. And a lot of pagan traditions come from a perspective of being very fertility focused. Whereas this one is much more healing based, and wanting to take personal ownership…


L: Did you grow up around here?


D: I’ve grown up around Melbourne. I’ve moved a lot. I’ve never had a really permanent home. I’m about to move house again – I’ve only been here for about 14 months. I’m averaging out 1 different house every 2 years. So that sense of stability is um.. not something that I had growing up either, unfortunately!


R: Yeah, I guess you just spoke about moving around a lot – but is there a place that is particularly meaningful to you?


D: The one consistent in my life that is very special to me, is a place that we would go on holiday to often when I was a child. A little town called Mallacoota. It’s up on the border of NSW and VIC, on the eastern side.


Yeah, I really love it there, and I have a really deep personal connection with that place. Yeah, I went there earlier this year for about 3 days. The first time in about 10 years, and I was just so overwhelmed with emotion being in this place that I love so much. It’s my primary motivation for wanting to learn how to drive – so that I can go there whenever I want [laughs].


L: Just wondering if there is, just in regards to gender, if there’s ever a time when you started engaging with gender?


D; When I was very young I started out with a lot of socializing on internet forums. And it was fairly common to have like a male persona that they interacted with people on the forums, and a female persona. I think that’s the first time I really started exploring concepts of gender, because prior to that when I was growing up, I didn’t really have any access to media representation of any kind of gender diversity. And although every now and then, you might get the occasional depiction of a trans woman on TV, I was a teenager before it occurred to me that you could also be a transman. I just, I don’t know why, but like it just never – never made that connection in my mind! So it was pretty slow going for me, honestly, it was a very slow process.


I only transitioned medically about 6 years ago. I went through a very, very difficult process because the system back then was very, very harsh and difficult to navigate. And very expensive. So although I would’ve liked to have transitioned much earlier than that, it took me quite a long time, so I came out quite late in life, honestly. Or, at least compared to a lot of my friends.


R: I guess, following on from what you were just talking about – about representation. Is there more space, I guess, in the kinds of communities that you’re part of now, in terms of representation of gender diversity and trans people?


D: I think in community, people in general have made fantastic cultural shifts towards better use of language. And I think that’s really important. So like, this does come up quite a bit in witchcraft circles – if you’re running like a women’s or men’s only event, its very important for you to specify what that means. And I think its good to have a culture where people don’t take things like that for granted. A lot of communities that I’m in do things like pronoun rounds when introducing people, and that’s really wonderful But in terms of, uh, pop culture stuff, like television media and videogames and stuff like that, its pretty woeful.


There’s this terrible pushback against representation that a lot of people have, that ‘its pushing it down our throats’ argument – because they feel like any representation is an overrepresentation. Like if trans people only make up such a tiny amount of the population, then surely they should only make up, like, such a tiny amount of population in characters as well – which is dreadfully unfair. And I think we’ve got a long way to go also, when those characters are represented, they end up being very tokenistic. And I’d like to see a greater depth of characters that are able to have stories and development and arcs that aren’t entirely centered around, oh this person is gender diverse. And actually have them go through other kinds of stories. That department leaves quite a lot to be desired [laughs].


R: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point about any representation is overrepresentation. Particularly when it’s a positive, right, representation. Because I think there’s a lot of like, y’know, watching Netflix after my teaching semester is over, the amount of gender diverse victims on crime shows, or that are like, completely one dimensional: well there’s actually a lot of those. It’s just the more positive, more realistic representations that are completely missing…


L: Yeah I do a crime fiction podcast, and the most common killer is a trans woman. Or the most common victim is a trans woman. And its not good enough.


I was interested whether in pagan community, and LARPing community, is there a point when you noticed that there was a shift around pronouns and greater awareness around trans and gender diversity?


D: I think its happened fairly recently, over the last couple of years. There has been quite a bit of pushback within those communities as well, against better inclusivity because it is definitely a sphere that is very traditionally masculine, and very traditionally nerd, dude-bro types. It can be pretty alienating, and a lot of people have some pretty abhorrent views. The more popular a culture becomes, the larger a community becomes, the bigger the amount of people in it that are going to have rather negative views. Because there’s, the seemingly statistically dominant – the way things fall – so there have been quite a lot of gender diverse people and queer people within those communities really just on the ground, pushing towards having more acceptance and greater acceptance. And unfortunately, sometimes those people do leave, because it just feels like an endless tide of people who won’t respect their pronouns and what have you, and they just get fed up with it and end up quitting. Which is very unfortunate. But a lot of people do persevere and its just through, just tremendous sheer bloody mindedness and determination, that they’re dragging these communities to be better.


L: Noticing that there’s so many prolific trans women creating games and getting them out there, and I love that. That’s awesome.


D: Quite a lot of people, a lot of transfeminine and trans women friends are coders or gamers. Or game developers, its really awesome.


So cool.


I do quite enjoy a lot of the smaller indie games for that reason. Because I kind of, I really enjoy the fact that if people aren’t going to get mainstream media recognition, then they’re creating their own stories. And they’re creating narratives that are relevant to them and relevant to their communities. And that’s really wonderful.


R: I guess I’m also interested in whether or not there are, in the communities you’re a part of, there are links to trans and gender diverse people in other countries – or like if you’re finding yourself bridging or creating dialogue with people more broadly outside of Australia?


D: Within the witchcraft community it is quite international. There are a lot of people who travel quite extensively. There’s a couple of communities that I’m involved in like Reclaiming Witchcraft, which is an international organization. And they have camps all around the world, and people quite frequently travel to them. And Melbourne is an incredibly culturally diverse place as well. At least within that community, also, one of the really important issues to examine within witchcraft is cultural appropriation. Because there’s a lot of issues of when, most modern witchcraft is essentially cut from (hole?) cloth? It’s not really based on any kind of true ancient wisdom because archaeology is an, not an exact science. So a lot of this stuff is fragmentary and having to be pieced together. And especially in a lot of new age communities, there’s a lot of unfortunate leaning on Native American mythos, and that’s something that people are very conscientious of in pagan and witchcraft communities. Is not wanting to use knowledge and wisdom and practices that aren’t appropriate or available to be sued by people not of that culture. So that aspect of people of color and immigrant communities within witchcraft is something that ties it together internationally. Probably not so much with LARPing, people tend to stay within their own communities. And another community I’m involved in is the furry world. That is very international. It’s extremely common for people to have friends with people who live overseas, people often travel interstate for big conventions and gatherings. That’s something that ties people together quite strongly.


In Melbourne, there’s a huge overlap between the Melbourne, or like all the communities that I’m involved in – and Brisbane? There’s like a constant exchange back and forth of people, coming between Melbourne and Brisbane as well. So that’s really interesting.


R: Why’s that?


D: I’m not really sure. I think its because, maybe because Brisbane has nicer weather than Melbourne? A lot of the queer people that I know like, I feel like there’s a high density of them for Melbourne, cos they all funnel out of Tasmania to Melbourne – and then they don’t leave.


R: In terms of your future movements, do you see yourself staying in Melbourne?


D: I’ really love it here. I wish it wasn’t so cold.


R: That’s Brisbane calling you, right?


D: Yes [laughs]


When I was younger, I fantasized about moving a lot. I grew up on a steady diet of American television about kids growing up in small towns and always longing to leave. And when I got older, it wasn’t until I was an adult, that I really came to appreciate that Melbourne’s actually really great.


R: I guess this is shifting focus a bit, but you said that – and I don’t want to put words in your mouth – but started this journey or transition, 6 years ago. How do you see yourself in this moment of increased visibility of gender diversity?


D: At the moment I wear in my daily, like, clothing and what have you – a lot of trans pride pins and flags and buttons, and things like that. It’s part of my aesthetic, but…


I find it very important to me, not to be read as cisgender. Because it’s a very integral part of my identity, and part of my journey. And I want to be a good representation for people that I talk to, people that see me on the street, anybody that might have a little bit more comfort in themselves, or a little ray of hope, by just seeing people existing authentically as their true selves in the world. Cos when I was younger, I can remember the scant few times I might have encountered people in my daily life, and just knowing that they were out there in the wild, just meant the world to me. In my very closed off existence, so… it’s really vital for me to not, to not be stealth. I understand completely why some people might find that to be useful, and might find it necessary or good for their personal safety, or a myriad of other reasons. But its very important for me to be as flamboyant as possible [laughs].


R: Did you identify as queer before you identified as trans? Or, how do you see queer and trans kind of working alongside one another?


D: I identify very strongly with the word queer. You’ve probably noticed that I tend to use it a lot. It’s an important identifier for me, because its not just a label but its also somewhat of a political statement. I feel like queerness for me is, it holds all of these ambiguities… I understand that some people might prefer the acronym, but I like queer because it doesn’t have any quantifiers. You can just say you’re queer and if you want to, you can leave it at that. And I find that really empowering. Or I could tell people that I am nonbinary transmasculine person and I identify as polyromantic, panromantic, and asexual. It’s just like – takes a while to get through that – and if there’s people that might not be familiar with all of those terms, then I’d have to go through and explain to them. Whereas if I don’t want to, then – I’m queer – and I can just leave it at that. And that can be really empowering and really fantastic method of self-ownership, and I really love that. I don’t think I’ve every identified as straight, even when I was very young. I always thought there something a bit odd about me, I just didn’t know what that was, and I didn’t have words for it. So I think that a part of me quite enjoys that ambiguity.


Yeah I went through a couple of different periods in my life where I had identified as possibly being bisexual, because I had a lot of bi friends. And I was like, is this right? It still didn’t feel like I was really hitting the nail on the head, but it was the closest I could get – so I went through a period of – no, no that’s not quite it, and then I went on to the next label. So it did take me quite a while before identifying more fully as trans. And coming out to people. I had a couple of setbacks along the way, and things that kind of shoved me far deep into the closet. You know, finding next year’s Christmas presents kind of deep [laughs] yeah it was a slow process.


L: Do you have relationships at all, with people that are intergenerationally older than you?


Unfortunately, no. I feel a lot of importance should be placed on learning about the AIDS crisis in the 80s. Because I feel like that really wiped out my generation’s access to elders, because that is not something that I ever had the opportunity to interact with the elders in my community, and the generation before mine. And I think that’s a really great tragedy. And I think that really set back, was a tremendous setback, to diversity rights in this country as well.


And it’s just really sad as well. I really wish that I had more community contacts, because I do have quite a lot of community contacts with people younger than me, but I don’t really know anyone older than me at all. I find that really unfortunate, and I feel because of that my generation had to fight very hard for access to what we needed. And I feel like a lot of younger people now thank goodness, have much easier access to things like informed consent models with their doctors when it comes to accessing transition – whereas there was still, like so much stigma heaped on my generation – it was very very hard. So um, I feel that its really unfortunate that I don’t have any people in my community and my life who are older than me.


R: Maybe we can go back a bit to what was it 6 years ago that made you feel like, alright, now –


D: About 7 or 8 years ago, I was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. I was very very sick. And that really made me reevaluate a lot of things in my life. I came very very close to dying. And it was kind of that, that lightbulb moment essentially. I dumped my partner at the time, when I was still in hospital – I was like, I can’t be settling, you know I could’ve died today. And so it kind of really made me re-examine and prioritize things in my life, and really drive home that finite nature of our existence. And that the way that I had been living which culminated in me being hospitalized, was unsustainable. It was just a cascade of things, of failures, of failing to be true to myself, that ended up with this horrible illness. So that was basically the moment where I realized that things had to change.


Prior to that point, I had been kind of slowly beginning to dress in a more masculine fashion. Like the process of converting my wardrobe over, cos I went through a period of being really hyper-fem, I was overcompensating – like maybe if I tried really hard to be girly, then maybe it will work! Spoiler: it didn’t [laughs]. Slowly transitioning socially, and how I presented, and when I got out of hospital I actually was seeing a psychologist for the PTSD for having been hospitalized. And I tried to come out to her, and her, when I said to her that I feel that I am actually a man, she said to me: I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you say that. And just carried on with the conversation we were having. So that just like, really swept my legs out from under me. Like it took me a long time to come back from that, because it was such a tentative thing for me. I felt like a snail that had been poked in the eye. It was very difficult for me to admit this, to somebody, especially to a figure of authority – and to have her say that to me was really devastating.


And eventually I managed to creep back out again, and then my local doctor’s office lost my referral to go see a psychiatrist. So it was about a year from that point that I managed to get to see an actual psychiatrist. Because at the time, the local organization in Melbourne was renowned for being extraordinarily biased against non-binary people. If you weren’t incredibly binary in your presentation and your desires, they were not interested in letting you have access to transitional care at all. And I was very wary of that, because it was a very tender, very vulnerable thing for me, and having somebody tell me, ah, you’re not trans enough, had I gone to see them, would’ve been absolutely devastating to me.


So I did eventually go see a psychiatrist, and I did eventually justify my transness enough. I basically pretended to be a binary man for that, like I faked my way through it until I finally got my letters to say that I could go on hormones. And that psychiatrist himself, was absolutely abysmal, he was terrible. And as an example of how terrible he was, in the last appointment that I had with him, he actually fell asleep.


L: Wow –


D: Yeah.


So that was just shockingly bad. And then I went on hormones for about a year or so, and then I managed to get top surgery with a wonderful surgeon in Melbourne. He’s very good. That was an absolutely phenomenal experience for me, because I was very busty. And it was really curtailing the amount of, like, fashion choices that I had. I got very good at layering. I wore a lot of big heavy coats and scarves and things. A couple of my friends were absolutely flabbergasted when they found out that I hadn’t had top surgery when they first met me. Because they were like, ‘you’ve always looked like this!’. And I was like no, no I have not [laughed]


L: Very skilled [laughs]


D: Five years for me, was when I had access to hormones and surgery, which was really wonderful. Another point of why I hadn’t been able to access it previously, was I couldn’t afford it. The organization that I had heard terrible things about – I didn’t want to go through them. I wanted to do the process privately, so all up, including all of my medical bills and everything, it cost me about 10,000 dollars. And I was unemployed at the time, and it was just completely out of my reach. Unfortunately, due to that life-threatening illness that I had undergone through the hospital, I was completely unable to work, and I’m now a disability pensioner. And that gave me just a little financial boost that I was actually able to go through the process and be able to afford to get done what I needed to get done. But yeah, I’m extraordinarily happy with the results, essentially.


Hormones and top surgery is all I have a desire for. They’ve made a fantastic difference in my life.


R: I was just going to say earlier, that I think that the pressure to say what you think people, what people want to hear from you, as gatekeeping your access to hormones and surgery – I feel like, I mean like I’ve been very lucky. The clinic that I use has been, like from the outset, the doctor was quite receptive to me being non-binary. But walking in there, how nervous you are, are they going to just say no, this is it, you can’t do this. Or do I have to like, memorize something? And say what they want me to say? All that’s stuff that you have to calculate on your own, all that space it takes up. It’s –


L: It can be exhausting, and you’re really vulnerable. I think that word is really apt. I think it’s also the opposite as well, I feel like you often have to present like all of these thoughts are fully formed, and your identity is fully formed, and that’s something you maybe sometimes benefit from going through with somebody else.  I feel like there’s often that pressure on you that you have to be this complete, whole person, to get the things that you want to get.


R: 100%. 100% certain.


L: Yeah, 100%!


R: No one’s 100% certain of anything.


D: I remember when I first got top surgery, they were like, had me read all of this information. Like, you have to be aware of the fact that this is permanent! And you’ll never be able to do things like breastfeed. And I, really don’t like children. So that’s not a concern for me [laughs]. I do know that a lot of trans people, especially non-binary people, have a lot of uncertainty about whether or not its for them, and there is a tremendous pressure: this is irreversible, and you have to be 100% certain that this is exactly what you want! And I think that’s really unfair.


L: I remember driving to get top surgery. I wasn’t driving – my mom was driving. And I have a hard time being 100% yes about anything. So I just said, I hope I’m doing the right thing! And she was like, I’ll turn the car around, I’ll turn the car around! I was like, no, no that’s fine. I realize now that I was never going to be 100% certain, I just don’t function that way. But there is this massive expectation that you need to be 100%.


L: What do you think the best thing about being trans is?


D: I think being trans, in its own way, gives people a very unique perspective. Because it allows people to think outside the box somewhat, if you never really fit in within societal constraints, very narrow gender and cultural expectations of what kind of role you’re supposed to fill, once you have to re-examine something so foundational, it can really give you the ability to start to re-examine everything about reality. And everything about the world. And really begin to tease those things apart, and really gain a kind of perspective and vision for seeing how things can be better.


And seeing how things can be done in a different way. And how we can really be more true to ourselves, and be less locked into really harmful constraints.


L: That’s a really great answer


R: What do you think the big issues are, facing the gender diverse community at the moment?


D: It could be interpreted in many ways, but I think violence is definitely the biggest – I think that one of the offshoots of violence is poverty, especially. I think that financial disparities between the very rich and the very underprivileged are horrendous, and I think that gap between the rich and the poor – which is growing devastatingly quickly – is one of the biggest forms of violence that people can face. And a lot of my friends and people in my community are very financially underprivileged. And that puts tremendous strain on them because trans people are shockingly high – highly at risk of violence, like physical violence, domestic violence, abuse, and things like that. And they can take a tremendous psychological toll on people. Without money, it’s currently very difficult to access decent psychological care. Psychologists and psychotherapists and hospitals, and psychiatrists, are very very difficult to access if you don’t have money.


So I think it all kind of trickles down to poverty. So if a trans person was in an abusive relationship, and perhaps their partner is pressuring them not to transition, if they don’t have the financial resources to leave, that makes it very difficult for them to leave. If they have any kind of mental illness problems, if they can’t afford to access medical care, then they can’t have that to be something that helps them through that. So I think, yeah capitalism – [laughs]


L&R: [laughs]


D: [laughs] – is the biggest problem facing trans people.


R: If you could tell a younger trans or gender diverse person something today – and I know that you said you have some relationships with younger trans people – but what would that be?


D: That would be that – things don’t get better on their own. Rights have to be fought for. It’s exhausting but it just, people can take refuge in their communities, people that love them and understand them. And that’s absolutely vital. And to just keep fighting and keep being true to yourself. And we will collectively make it better.


R: And if I can flip it and say, if you could tell an older trans or gender diverse person something today, what would that be?


D: Thank you.