Sunday 25 August 2013

Interview with Britany Somers

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Britany Somers, an American transgender radio host, comedian, and transgender advocate. Hello Britany!
Britany: Hi Monika.
Monika: Could you say a few words about your career so far?
Britany: Like most terrestrial broadcasters licensed prior to the '96 Telecom Act, it's over. The little show I have keeps my toe in the rapidly evaporating water. That's about it.
Monika: How long have you been producing the Boca Show? Which topics does it focus on?
Britany: The show is in its third year. Seriously thinking of just renaming it The Brit Somers Show. “Boca” is a well-known nickname from the Neil Rogers Show which I was part of for 20 years. I kept it for the local South Florida listeners familiar with my material. Too parochial for online. My show is intentionally General Interest. (AOR; All Over the Road).
Single Topic broadcasting is coma-inducing for the listening audience. Sadly, that type of “Narrow Casting” is insisted on by the five corporations that own – everything. Especially in this market. All that remains on the AM band is “Hate Talk” and Sports. For no other reason than corporate demanding it to be so.
FM consists of corporate homogenized swill. Consequently, almost everybody has migrated Online to hear what they prefer. As opposed to what clueless radio corporate “thinks”. (Rhymes with “Stinks.”) Since 2002, I have been referring to corporate media consolidation as the new “Iron Curtain”.

From Favourite Pic Set.

Monika: Apart from radio broadcasting, you did a lot of transgender advocacy, just to mention serving as Transgender Liaison for the Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine Cultural Correctness and Standardized Patient Program, and Communications Director for the Broward County Department of Health STD Prevention Program Office… 
Britany: The most fulfilling time of my transition was speaking before students at University Forums. Predisposed by years of intensive media typecasting. I'm certain they were expecting a RuPaul/Gene Simmons-style fire-breathing burlesque act. Subsequently, they were surprised and relieved that I was a normal human being.
For Q&A, the kids never ran out of insightful questions. Making it clear that, (other than stereotypical punchlines) there is only a minuscule amount of information in the media about us.
Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund once asked me to represent his office to NBC. He thought I lived in NY (as I once did). Held economic hostage to south Florida, I was forced to decline that golden opportunity due to location. In a later visit to his office, he advised that I expand my communication skills with local colleges and universities that don't have Transgender studies in place.
I followed his advice with low expectations and here's why - in Florida, complacency and indifference is the order of the day. With the exception of Health and Wellness, that goes for the (predominately stealth) Transgender community here as well.
Florida Atlantic University was in the process of designing a Standardized Patient Program regarding Transgender Awareness for medical students. (An erstwhile attempt to rise above showing them YouTube videos.) I was asked to participate in the planning stages.
After six months of meetings and with the curriculum to begin in three months, word came down from the top that FAU didn't want any “Real” Transgenders on staff, let alone on campus. I can only assume that order came from the University’s sitting president, who has since resigned in disgrace over controversial dealings with a private prison corporation. (That made me happy.) The Transgender Symposium was a success. I enjoyed working with others involved in the community. Haven't heard anything since.

Favorite outfit.

Monika: Have you got any new roles or projects in the pipeline?
Britany: Writing my book titled “Living Abroad”.
Monika: What is your view on transgender stories which have been featured in media, films, books, etc. so far?
Britany: Hollywood is simply incapable of producing any credible series or film approaching the subject, other than ridiculous and silly bullshit. Albeit, a few informational programs attempt to provide a better understanding, it remains inadequate.
There is only ONE Indi film that ever came close to realism, “Stonewall”. Released in 1995, it's a low-budget, yet sincere attempt to portray tranny life leading up to the Stonewall riots in 1969.
Gay communities have yearly celebrations and parades to commemorate this brief moment in time when gays and transgenders formed a unified front to champion civil rights. This is rather ironic considering today's prevailing Anti-Trans attitude of many gay men. Proudly they will march down the street with banners and floats in tow, without a clue of what “Stonewall” was actually about.
“TransAmerica” would have been far more compelling had it been about the Pontiac Firebird, instead of an audition reel for Bill Macy's wife. All other films regarding transgender are beneath my mention.
Monika: Some critics say that the contemporary media industry does not provide too many opportunities for women to show their talents and stories that are more interesting for the female audience. Would you agree?
Britany: The television and film media establishment have decreed the following qualifications for a transgender individual to attain the media spotlight... Must be an outrageous asshole in the most frightening way. Must not resemble any identifiable life form walking on Earth. Must have a tragic back story riddled with angst. Must have an I.Q. smaller than their shoe size. Must be delusional enough to be appointed to the House Intelligence Committee.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Britany: The battle of respect and understanding continues with corporate media typecasting. We are, however, starting to see more notable transgenders come forward, seizing the opportunity afforded us by other gay organizations. We are fortunate to have spokespersons like Mara Keisling, Autumn Sandeen, and we need more courageous people like Kristin Beck.

Favorite pose.

Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? Did you have any support from your family or friends?
Britany: It wasn't difficult at all 14 years ago. But not without an extraneous amount of R&D. It is a perpetual practice to do things correctly. As for family and friends, they had no choice. Acceptance? Great! Have a problem with it? Too bad for you.
Monika: At that time of your transition did you have any transgender role models that you could follow? What was your knowledge about transgenderism?
Britany: 14 years ago, it was like a piano fell on my head. Other than a cursory awareness of transgenders prior to that, I never gave it a thought.
Monika: Transgender ladies are subject to the terrible test whether they pass as a woman or they do not. You are a beautiful lady yourself but what advice you would give to ladies with the fear of not passing as a woman?
Britany: We are all diplomats for the community. Govern yourself accordingly and dress appropriately. Comportment is the key to acceptance.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Britany: Attempting to operate a 5-Speed Clutch with 4-inch heels.
Monika: We are witnessing more and more transgender ladies coming out. Unlike in the previous years, some of them have the status of celebrities or are really well-known, just to mention Lana Wachowski in film-directing, Jenna Talackova in modeling, Kate Bornstein in academic life, Laura Jane Grace in music or Candis Cayne in acting. Do you think we will have more and more such women?
Britany: Yes I do. And thank you for not including that high steppin' exploitive clown RuPaul in that list. (Or Rand Paul for that matter.)
Monika: American politics is based on the interaction with different interest groups that wish to pursue their specific goals. How successful is the transgender community in this respect?
Britany: Most of our legislative advancements can be attributed to the achievements of well-run gay organizations. Always on their coattails, so to speak. Albeit, a welcome benevolence since we lack that kind of power, yet.

One from another favorite pic set.

Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities? Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Britany: My perspective is that the "T" stands for "Them Too". The transgender community needs a comprehensive understanding of how the LGB accomplishes its goals with a unified front. Everybody's got a big brave mouth “Online”, but most won't walk outside till the sun goes down. We are a terribly fractured community, hindered by fear and self-interest. Twice, I've gone to community meetings and was the only one there.
What really fires me up, is the insistence of adding the “Q” to LGBT. The mainstream public will never comprehend this! It is an astounding feat of radical stupidity and ignorance! There's nothing like a negative connotation such as labeling yourself a “Queer” to further alienate potential support and understanding of the mainstream public.
Ostensibly, we have another segment of the community whining (again) about using the word, “Tranny”. Claiming that “Tranny” is oppressive. (This Tranny doesn't agree) Do they mean to say that “Queer” is NOT oppressive? Why not use the word Asshole? After all, only hebetudinous Assholes would want to label themselves a Queer. It's all part of the finely tuned transgender community public acceptance marketing strategy of one step forward, fifty miles back.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Britany: We have had them run and lose. But for some weird reason, primarily as republicans! The way I see it, a Tgirl running as a Republican is a losing proposition from the start. The platform of the Republican party is to hate everyone who isn't a middle-aged pasty putz. Republicans base their idealism on hatred. They love to hate.
Amazingly, we have right-wing republican Tgirls! That's like Jews for the third Reich! What can be more self-loathing than that? I would LOVE to be more politically active on behalf of Transgender Advocacy. Not to run for anything, but I can help in so many ways as a communications director. However, I face 2 obstacles in that pursuit, location, and an absolute lack of support from anyone in the community.

Airline Hostess.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Britany: South Florida gets so hot, your tits can meltdown to your ankles. Other than evening wear, fashion here is limited to top and Capri's or maybe a spaghetti strap sundress. More fun when I visit up north. Favorite evening wear, a wrap cocktail dress.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Britany: A ridiculous waste of time. Trophies and Tiaras are cheap and readily available on eBay. Social acceptance on a daily basis is the best validation that you're doing things right.
Monika: Do you intend to remarry as a woman? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Britany: It's nice to see society progressing in a positive direction. Personally, Gay, Straight, Bi or Trans, Marriage is a failed experiment. Boyfriends are nice. But marriage? Not for this child.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Britany: Finish my book and see where it leads from there. Maybe all 12 of my listeners will buy a copy.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Britany: After having my career torn from my soul by evil corporate overlords, being a full-time transgender woman is my only solace.
Monika: Britany, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Britany Somers.
© 2013 - Monika Kowalska

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