I think the transgender umbrella is big and complex enough that there’s no easy answer. Two things I think are critical are the problems faced by people of transgender experience who are currently or formerly incarcerated, and people of transgender experience who are undocumented – especially those held in detention centers. There are so many issues there that are critical to address.
Another thing that’s important to me is finding a way to participate in the trans community in a way that honors all of the things that accepting being trans has unraveled for me – about our capitalist culture – and making a concerted effort to not reproduce or aid in reproducing the warped perspective of the culture at large within our beautiful community.
You once said “I experienced transmisogyny towards myself.” Can you expound on that?
The critical starting point for that thought is the idea that I experienced – and still do experience – internalized transmi- sogyny. That means that it originates from an external source but buries itself into the internal world so it feels like I am experiencing those things towards myself.
At the mass media level, our culture is patriarchal, misogynist, transphobic, racist, classist and lots of other stuff. What shocked me as I began to transition was just how much these messages had infected my internal world. So much of the denial that kept me from accepting my trans identity was based on very generic societal myths of what a trans woman is and isn’t. I didn’t know this until I started to unravel it by talking to other transwomen. I thought it was a conflict between different parts of myself but, in fact, it was an internalized conflict be- tween me and the society in which I was raised and socialized.
Switching gears for a moment to music, how did you develop an interest in electronic music and making electronic instruments that you are well known for?
As a teen, I became very interested in sound as a fluid medium that one could shape and sculpt with. My first forays into this were using feedback from stringed electric instruments and by creating rhythms by “looping” a portion of a song that I found most appealing.
Later, I craved a greater degree of detail in this work and encountered analog synthesiz- ers. As I began to delve into synthesis and other forms of electronic music manipulation, there was a clear yet intuitive relationship between the abstract space created by electronic sound and a fluidity of identity. In my case, it allowed me to experience my own femininity in my body during a time when I hadn’t been able to express it through dress or presentation in the world. I have no doubt that this guided me to my initial experience of approaching coming out in my early ‘20s and also to the place I’ve found myself at now. Both of those experiences happened directly after periods of prolific creative output using electronic music techniques.
Anything you want to say to the LGBTQ+ community in Atlanta in advance of the LCD Soundsystem show?
I am so excited to learn more about it. I know that Atlanta has long been a spot where LGBT folks from the South have gone or dreamed of going to be able to be more fully themselves, be it around their sexuality, their gender identity, their gender expression or some or all of the above. I love that and I am so proud of that. And I want to know more about why that is!
What do you think is the biggest issue that trans people face right now?
Gavin Russom suffered severe depression, addiction and was suicidal for many years before deciding to take care of herself, and later coming out as trans. (Courtesy photos)