The Northeast LGBT Conference (NELGBTC) is sold out! For those of you attending, here is the schedule. My presentation & performance is at 9:30. It says “for students” but it’s open to everyone. I will be discussing transgender key terms in detail (this is the Trans 101 part). I will also be telling my personal coming out story and talking about my experience with the media. I will play some songs for you to show the emotions of my experiences. There will be a Q&A session as well. T-shirts & CD’s will be for sale to help fund my tour for the following week. I can’t wait to see all of you! This will be my 3rd year in a row speaking at this conference!
FREE CONFERENCE & MUSIC! #trans #music #speech
This SATURDAY in MAINE! Open to the public!
I am the epitome of an outsider. It’s rare that I am surrounded by people alike me. I don’t mind being an outsider at all. In fact, I have sort of accepted the fact that I am dissimilar to most of the people I interact with on a daily basis. The thing I have not accepted, that I will never accept, is the way other people mislabel me and mistreat me and the others in my community, especially the media.
It all started with Tyra Banks. Tyra Banks is the archetype of overly dramatized media. I thought that going on her show, getting to share my story with the entire nation, and bringing awareness to the transgender (gender variant) community would be a great experience. However, it was not. Tyra Banks dehumanized me.
This is how that day went:
My mother and I are picked up in a Limousine from our home in Brightwaters, NY and dropped off to the Tyra Banks studio in busy and beautiful, Manhattan.
We go into the building and we are asked to go through a metal detector. They take away our cell-phones, our cameras, and all other devices that we might possibly illegally record the show with. (This is a standard television procedure).
We are then escorted to the tiniest green room, which we are sharing with at least seven other people that will be taping on the show that day as well. The Tyra Banks staff only gives us one sandwich, not one sandwich each, one sandwich for all eight of us, to share. Craziness! Madness! We sit in the green room for seven hours and there is barely any food. Still, I don’t think anything of it. I am excited to go on the show.
Every thirty minutes, producers take me to another room to “prep” me. They ask me all of the questions that I would be asked on the air. All of the questions are very well thought-out and they aren’t rude at all. My answers to these questions would provide insight as to what it is like to be a transgender teen. Finally, it’s show time!
I walk on stage and I know that I must look extremely respectable. I am dressed like the average dressed-up teenager, expensive-looking button down shirt, sweater vest over it, and my hair done nicely by the dressing room staff. I look neat, to say the least.
I greet Tyra Banks. She shakes my hand, no hug? Alright, that’s unwelcoming. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … ACTION!
The “professional” Tyra Banks reads from her notecards, asking me the most impersonal, most offensive questions I have ever been asked. Plus, they were all planned out on the notecards. Nothing that I was prepped for over and over again in the green room was asked! At that point I realized why Tyra Banks had the nickname ‘TYRANT Banks.’
The worst question that Tyra Banks asked me was “What size bra are you?” It was like she had completely forgotten that the only reason I was sitting on her couch was because I identified as a transgender male. TRANS…GENDER…MALE. I sat there and panicked, how would I know what size bra I am or was? How would I know what size my chest is? Why would I care to measure one of the major parts of my body that betrayed me and disgusted me? Why would I wear a girls undergarment when my brain so obviously told me I was male? I wouldn’t.
Tyra Banks didn’t even have the decency to do her research about transgender men before she had me on the show. If she had done her research she would have realized that the majority of transgender men wear some form of a chest binder, not a bra. Yes, she did also eventually ask me about my chest binder on the show but she still should have known that because I was wearing a chest binder, I clearly hated my body enough to not want to think of the part of my body that I was hiding, let alone to measure it. I shrugged my shoulders in embarrassment in front of the live audience.
The main problem with the show was that it seemed like Tyra Banks wanted to portray me as a freak because of my gender expression and transgender identity. She was flat out rude to me. She kept asking humiliating questions, like the bra size question, and I kept shrugging my shoulders unable to answer most of them.
A few months later the show aired. I taped for at least 10 minutes with Tyra Banks. Only 1 minute and 30 seconds of the show aired on National Television. I knew exactly why most of the segment was cutout. It was because Tyra Banks asked very offensive questions and her staff recognized that and edited those questions out. Even though the segment was cut short, I was still portrayed as leading some “crazy” lifestyle on the show. You could tell by the way I dressed and spoke on the show, that I just an average teenager who happened to be trans. My lifestyle was a little different, at the time, but in a good way. I was 15 years old. I had perfect grades in school, I was on the principals list, and on my way to graduate a year early. I was just starting to play music festivals. I was doing speeches around the New York area, educating about the trans community, in a very positive way. I was a volunteer with the Long Island Gay Centers’ Safe Schools team where I was able to educate even more people. I was doing a lot of good, especially for a 15 year old. I wasn’t a freak and I definitely wasn’t living some outlandish lifestyle. I was an advocate from an early age and was living a mostly positive life.
After the Tyra Banks episode aired I took another media opportunity with Closer Magazine, hoping that it would be a more positive experience for myself and for my community. The experience was also humiliating. The reporter, Mel Fallowfield, addressed me using the wrong pronouns for most of the article. What’s even worse was that she quoted my mom using the wrong pronouns, something my Mom did not do. The page was labeled “Teen Sex Swap.” I hear it over, and over again. “Sex swap,” “sex change.” – These are not words and phrases I like to use or hear for myself. I’d never say “I’m having a sex change.” The media likes to make things seem bigger than they are. What these people don’t understand is that not all transgender people get these surgeries or even want them.
Many times throughout my life, I have been asked “Did you fully complete the transition yet?” or “Did you get all of the surgeries yet?” Most people, including a very small amount of transgender people, believe that in order to “transition” from one gender to another, one must have every single sex reassignment surgery available and be on hormone replacement therapy. Most transgender people do not get every single surgery offered and some do not even have hormone replacement therapy. I was finally able to express these thoughts in a positive way and also in my own words at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference. I was appointed to be one of the keynote speakers for the conference. I got to share my thoughts with the community and our allies. Below is an excerpt from my speech at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference.
The Trans 101 and Gender Dysphoria workshop consists of Ryan Cassata’s personal coming out story from lesbian to transgender man. Ryan shares his story through words and original song. This workshop will include a detailed explanation of the transgender umbrella and key terms. This workshop will also include an inspiring slideshow on gender dysphoria.
• • •
The Trans 101 & Gender Dysphoria Workshop I will be presenting explains what it means to be transgender and to have gender difference. I will explain all other gender identities on the transgender umbrella such as transsexual (FTM, MTF post-operative, pre-operative, no operative), drag king/queen, transvestite, cross dresser, gender queer, etc. In order to explain these terms I will draw the transgender umbrella and provide celebrity examples for each term. During this workshop I will also explain my personal transition from lesbian to transgender man. I will share my personal experiences with the coming out process, legal name change, hormone replacement therapy decision (testosterone), and top (chest) surgery. I will also explain the struggles that transgender teens face in high school. (Where to use the bathroom, where to change to gym, my name change through high school, and coming out in high school.) I will also tell the audience about my experiences as a transgender teen on the Tyra Banks Show and Larry King Live Show and what it’s like to come out on international level. I will also perform original songs that I have written about the media on LGBT people, equality, and the transition process. At the end of the workshop I will explain gender dysphoria and inform everyone of the suicide rate and the reasons why transgender people chose to get surgery or chose not to get surgery, chose to go on hormones, or chose not to go on hormones. The heartache of gender dysphoria will be portrayed through a slideshow video that I created, titled “Gender Dysphoria.” This video has gotten over 16,000 hits on youtube and continues to gain popularity each day. “Gender Dysphoria” clearly portrays the hardships of being transgender and provides hope to the transgender community for a better future and a happier life.
• • •
The goals of this workshop are to educate and inform the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer community about transgender people and gender difference because many people in the community don’t fully understand it. It is also to show what transgender people go through on a daily basis and why it’s wrong to harass and bully. This workshop will provide the audience with enough information to clearly explain gender difference to those who do not understand. This will help the fight against ignorance and eventually stop hatred. Lastly this workshop will help transgender people to come out and gain more confidence. This workshop will give transgender people hope to live a stronger and healthier life.
• • •
Presentation Topics Include:
- CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE IN A COMMUNITY & IN SCHOOL
- TRANSGENDER ISSUES IN THE MEDIA
- THE TRANSGENDER UMBRELLA & GENDER TERMS
- GENDER DYSPHORIA/DEPRESSION/TRANSGENDER SUICIDE STATS
- COMING OUT IN HIGH SCHOOL/COMING OUT TO FAMILY/FRIENDS
- HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCES AND STRUGGLES AS A TRANS STUDENT
- TRANSGENDER SURGERIES AND HORMONES
- LEGAL NAME CHANGE & COURT SYSTEM
• • •
EMAIL RYAN CASSATA’s MANAGER TO HAVE THIS PRESTATION COME TO YOUR SCHOOL/CONFERENCE/COLLEGE/MEETING:
**MANAGER, SAMUEL TALL - firstname.lastname@example.org - (201)-452-6991**
(Include your prefered first name, school name/organization name & location.)
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PRESENTATION AT: www.ryancassata.com
LET US JOIN TOGETHER AND BE ONE HUMAN RACE.
A couple days ago I was in a session at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference. Now the story I am about to tell has absolutely no relation to the workshop so I will not mention the workshop. Anyway, in the middle of the workshop, during a question & answer session, this young white, gay-identified, cis-male stands up. He explains that he is a college grad. Then he starts saying that we shouldn’t have LGBT. It should just be one term. Then he goes on to say something along the lines of “All LGBT people have the same amount of struggle and oppression.” Everyone was shaking their heads. The room was 80% trans* people. Finally someone decided to say something. The person who stood up was someone I knew so I knew how she identified. She is black, transgender woman, transtioned in the 70’s. She explained that the amount of oppression that she faces/faced adds up to much more than what the white gay male faces/faced. Of course she is right.
The white gay male is 1. white. 2. cis-male. 3. came out in the 2000’s.
The black trans woman is 1. black 2. transgender. 3. a woman. 4. came out in the 70’s.
Due to oppression and stereotypes over a long amount of time clearly the latter is more oppressed.
I understand completely that the gay man did not mean any harm when he said this.
I guess this may be part of the problem when putting the LGBT together though, right? Sometimes LGB people try to identify with T people but sometimes that’s hard to do because there are not many similiarties if any. Gender and sexuality are two completely different things.
The world is moving along a lot quicker for gay rights. The HRC predominately focues on gay rights and excludes trans rights because they believe that gay rights should come first. (correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard this countless of times).
An even bigger problem would be seperating the LGB from the T though. We are already way too segregated.
I think we should have a new acronym that stands for all LGBTQQI people plus Allies. Hopefully one day everyone in our society and world will be or become an ally. It’s so important to not only be part of a smaller community but also be apart of the community of the world.
Maybe we should have a new community called “Humans” because that’s something every single person could relate too.
Can everyone just love each other, please?
My favorite part of my speech:
”Yes, we are all so different,
we all come from different classes,
we all come from different ethnicities,
different racial backgrounds,
different parts of the country
but when it comes down to it,
we all share that same feeling of being born in a body that does not make sense to us,
and because of this one small trait,
we are a unity, a community,
And we must recognize this,
and we must come together,
we need to look out for one another,
we need to have each others backs,
We must stop hating on each other,
And begin to love every member in this community,
we need to make space for each other,
we need to accept each others differences and become allies to one another,
we need to remember that we are a community,
we need to also remember that we are a minority,
we need to remember that all of us are being oppressed,
some more than others,
But we can not let the different amounts of oppression box us off,
and segregate us.
We must join together now,
and remember that no matter how different we all are,
we need to always remember
that we are and will always be
a sisterhood, a brotherhood, and a family.”
copyright by ryan cassata
Here is my keynote address from the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference. My speech covers; sexism, privilege, transmasculine, difference, equality, and recognizing the fact that the trans community has to become allies to eachother.
I was very honored to be the youngest keynote speaker the conference has ever had in it’s 11 years of existence.
Randy Wicker (On Ryan Cassata’s outfit at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference 2012 Keynote Address)
Giving my keynote addres at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. I got a standing ovation. =]
Come to me and Mya’s Keynote Address on June 1st @ 4pm if you are!
5/15 - Huntington High School - Huntington, NY
5/17 - Gun Hill Road Movie Screening Pannel @ the LGBT Center - NYC, NY
5/18 - Montauk Music Festival - Montauk, NY
(Last Hope Lagoon @ 6PM)
(Montauk Yacht Club @ 10PM)
5/19 - Montauk Music Festival - Montauk, NY
(Green Pavilion @ 11am)
(Montauk Yacht Club @ 10pm)
5/31 - Tabu (Funraiser for Gender Reel) - Philadelphia, PA
6/01 - Philadelphia Trans-Health Con. KEYNOTE SPEAKER - Philadelphia, PA
6/03 - Hudson Valley Pride Festival - New Paltz, NY
6/04 - Kingston High School - Kingston, NY
6/09 - Long Island Pride Festival - Huntington, NY
6/14 - Phao Restaurant - Sag Harbor, NY
6/24 - San Francisco Pride Festival - SF, CA
7/14 - Great South Bay Music Fest (12pm) - Patchogue, NY
BOOK Ryan: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org