Ryan, Los Angeles, CA
“My first AOL Instant Messenger screen name was 'littlemanskier'. (Basil and Ryan laugh) … I mean, I was a 6 year old!
I grew up in Long Island and as a kid I had no confidence at all. When the teacher would call on me at school, I would just start crying. No confidence at all... I also had no teeth. I think it was third or fourth grade that I had lost both of my front teeth at the same time. I’m emotional, so I was just basically always awkward and crying. I was still very artistic though. I knew from age six that I wanted to be an artist, but I didn't know like what type of artist to be. At that point I had just started playing guitar and I was awful at it. But my mom kept encouraging me. She’s why I got better. But it was hard growing up because I had no self-assurance. I ended up evolving later on by meeting older LGBT kids when I was in High School. Around that time, I started figuring my gender out.
Even though my parents didn’t support my transition, they supported the fact that I existed. That’s an important thing to distinguish. I went to school and I had a sandwich every day. Even if it was super uncomfortable and my parents and I weren’t talking at all, and I felt invisible, I didn’t get kicked out. So many trans people have a much different story and harder path. I am lucky for that.”
Transilient: “Your new song 'Daughter’ is about your father. The song touches on the struggle you two had during your transition, have you healed from that?”
“When I first came out as bisexual to my dad when I was 12, it was hard. When I came out as trans it got worse. We didn’t have a relationship for a long time. My dad intentionally called me by the wrong pronouns, and it just was really difficult for a long time and a lot of tension built up. Part of that is because my parents were divorced, and I spent weekends with my dad. I spent more time with my mom and she would see me on school days. She would see me, like, come home in the binder everyday not able to breathe. You know, so my dad wasn’t seeing me after being bullied all day at school or knew how necessary my transition was. So, I think that's why it took so much longer because and as soon as I started opening up to him and telling him things like I can’t shower with my eyes open, it kind of started to click. Things started opening up when he canceled my gender therapy appointment I was supposed to go with him to be able to get my top surgery. I showed up to his house hysterically crying and we were yelling at each other, and there's so much tension, and it was erupting. And I read them like a little note I had wrote, it basically said why it's so hard to be trans without top surgery. By the end of it, it had opened up his mind and he was like, “Let’s go get lunch.” It was the first time we had sat down as father and son even though I had been out for like 4 years already. That was the moment everything changed. My parents both spent time in San Francisco after my surgery, which was nice.
Father’s Day is coming up, and it’s just a day to celebrate my dad. It feels good now that we’ve gotten through so much. I don’t look at the day too deeply because I don’t have a child, but I do have my dog. (Ryan starts laughing...) You know, but some people have wished me a Happy Father’s Day, they’d be like, “Happy Father’s Day Geoffrey's Dad!!” (Basil and Ryan laugh). But, seriously my father has been a great dad my entire life. It’s why the disconnect around my transition was so hard for me because I love him so much. I wouldn’t have traded any experience I’ve been through to have a different dad. He doesn’t express his emotions very much, but he goes the extra mile to support me. He supports my music, and if I play Long Island he’s always there. Because of my dad, I have always had what I needed. He has taught me about working hard, it’s tough at times, but he teaches me to stay humble and not be a jerk to people. I am a little sad I’ll be in L.A. this year and not on his boat with him, but life gets that way when you get older.”