Bennett, Los Angeles, California
Bennett: I’m originally from Texas. I grew up in a small town called White Settlement.
Transilient: Oh my God.
Bennett: The name of the town is actually White Settlement. It’s now considered a suburb of Fort Worth, though it’s technically its own city, but now it’s merged with Fort Worth- it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. When it was created it was its own separate place. And it was called the white settlement. When I would tell people after leaving about where I am from they’d be like ”Are you serious?” and stopping and reflecting on it, I was like, “Oh, I guess that is really weird.” I didn’t think it was okay, I just didn’t really realize it was as shocking a thing as it was to people.
Transilient: I had that experience with the confederate flag. I knew it was wrong and affiliated with racism, but because I saw it every day, because I lived in South Carolina –
Bennet: Yeah – you’re desensitized. Well when you see it that much, especially for mental health reasons, you can’t be that triggered by it or else you’d be a mess all the time. So part of it is survival – you learn to hide and cover and you adapt. But, I left home when I was 16 and moved to Austin. And Austin is the best in all of Texas, it’s the only place I would ever go back and live – and I met my first trans people in Austin. And that’s sort of where I started to find my family in terms of values and queer and trans folks and I’ve just moved ever since. When I left Texas in 2004 I never looked back. I moved to Seattle, Brooklyn, Southern California – I only move if it’s 1500 miles or more. If it’s just a couple hundred miles I can’t – if I’m going to move I’m going to do a good job of it. I’ve been on both coasts and in-between. I’ve lived a lot of lives.
Transilient: Has taking those types of risks and stuff and doing things like being a beginner, has it translated into other parts of your life? Do you feel more confident?
Bennett: Yeah, I think that has never been something that’s challenging for me as a personality trait. Like taking risks, moving, starting new jobs or starting new things. I’m fairly confident in my ability in most scenarios – when I make decisions about trying something new – it’s because I have a pretty good reason to suspect that it will be successful. But, I realize that’s largely a function of privilege. I realize that’s also the function of the fact that I grew up with one of my parents - my mother was always very much like that herself and retired from teaching after nearly 30 years of teaching. When I went to college and decided to go to l, she went and became a lawyer after being a career educator. She was in her mid-forties when that happened, and she graduated and then a couple years later I went to law school and graduated. My first year of law school, my mom’s sister decided she wanted to go to law school even though she was nearly 50 at the time. She went to law school, graduated the year after me, and is now a county prosecutor in Texas, doing like really, really good work on behalf of domestic violence victims. Seeing people like that in my life, I always received the message that if there was something I wanted to do, I should try it.
It’s that kind of inspiration that helped me move and maybe why I jumped into Cross-Fit.
If I won the lottery, and I could do anything I wanted and didn’t have to worry about supporting myself, I would start a group or a foundation to help bring things like cross-fit to folks who can’t afford traditional exercise and gym memberships, because it has helped me so much in terms of learning how to love my body and learning how to be at home in my body. And also learning to let my body still surprise me. You can have an idea about what might happen, but you’ll just never ever know.