Tuesday 27 May 2014

Interview with Marissa Martinez

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Marissa Martinez, a talented woman and guitarist/vocalist for a California metal band called Cretin. Hello Marissa! 
Marissa: Hi!
Monika: First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your marriage! How did it feel to be the beautiful bride?
Marissa: Thank you! It was really nerve-racking until the ceremony actually started. Typically, I dress really casually, and I don’t have a big interest in clothing and fashion. So, the whole process of dress shopping, shoe shopping, deciding on hair and makeup. I found it all overwhelming. It’s just not my thing. I was really excited to be married to my husband. Just not so much for the wedding itself. Hahaha!
Monika: Any plans for the honeymoon?
Marissa: We just got back from our honeymoon. We went to Yosemite, which is where we got engaged.

Slave To The Grind. Marissa Martinez on playing
with Repulsion. Source: YouTube.

Monika: You have come a long way, from coming out as a transgender woman in 2008 in the Decibel magazine to the marriage in December 2013…
Marissa: Yes, it’s true. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of friends, family, and the metal community.
Monika: Marcie Free of King Cobra, Jackie Enx of Rhino Bucket, Mina Caputo of Life of Agony, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and yourself. These are only some of the most known musicians that decided to transition. Is it easier to do it when you are a known musician?
Marissa: I wouldn’t know. I mean… I’ve never tried to transition as an unknown musician. I can’t say if it’s easier or not. I suppose it would be more private, since you wouldn’t have a scene and a fan-base to come out to. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be easier.
Monika: Cretin’s “Daddy’s Little Girl” is said to have been outlet for your inner Marissa? Were there any other references to your transgenderism in your songs and music? 
Marissa: Honestly, people read that into “Daddy’s Little Girl” after I came out. The initial idea of having a transgender-themed song was mine, but I didn’t really realize that I was trans when we wrote it. I was still repressing those feelings. So, any of the lyrics on “Freakery” don’t intentionally hide any messages regarding my identity.

"I’ve never tried to transition as
an unknown musician."

Monika: There are only a few women playing Death Metal/Grindcore music. Is there any reason for this?
Marissa: Well, metal, in general, is traditionally a male-dominated genre. There have always been some female musicians involved. The numbers these days are considerably larger.
I would guess that’s due to the fact that the scene has had over 30 years to grow, and has become more inclusive over that time. I’ve also heard it expressed quite often that metalheads care more about the music a person makes, rather than what gender they are. 
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now, either with Cretin or solo?
Marissa: Yes! Cretin are currently recording our second album “Stranger.”
Monika: What is your general view on transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Marissa: Historically, trans people are terribly stereotyped in media. In films and on TV we’re typically portrayed as tragic characters who are awkward, or flamboyant, or out to deceive people. Many news outlets continue to sensationalize our stories, resorting to misgendering us with improper pronouns, and revealing our birth names, and surgical statuses.
Thankfully, organizations like GLAAD are out there petitioning media to stop treating trans people so poorly and to follow the Associated Press’ guidelines for telling trans peoples’ stories.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Marissa: It’s terrible. In 32 states it’s perfectly legal to fire, harass, or deny hiring trans people. We face higher levels of discrimination in education, proper medical treatment, and housing than any other maligned group.
Also, in many states trans people cannot legally update their gender markers on identification documents such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates. We face a 41% suicide rate because of these injustices.
Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Marissa: I’d say that that is a general perception. But, honestly, the fight for the equal treatment of trans people was part of the original LGBT civil rights movement. Our voices ended up drown out as larger portions of the community, who did not recognize the intersectionality of our concerns, abandoned us. However, with the advent of the internet, we’ve been able to make our voices heard again, and are making great strides in the fight for equal rights. There’s still a long way to go, though.
Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Marissa: Beyond using my voice to bring awareness to transgender rights, I donate money to the Transgender Law Center and various other equal rights campaigns. I also vote.

"Metal, in general, is traditionally a
male-dominated genre."

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Marissa: I’m not very into fashion. I was early on in my transition because I bought into the stereotype that I had to be. But, I mostly just wear jeans and band t-shirts these days. The typical dress of a metalhead.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Marissa: I don’t have an interest in any beauty pageants, to be honest. Judging people on how well they can wear a swimsuit, evening gown, or how traditionally pretty they can be seems horribly objectifying and dangerous to me. I understand that it gives opportunity to some, but I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason to support it. I’d rather see people given opportunity through education and equal treatment under the law. 
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Marissa: I’ve been told that I should, but honestly, I’m not a very good writer. I don’t know. Maybe someday I’ll work on something like that. I’m not sure there’s much of a story to tell yet.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls dreaming about such a career as yours?
Marissa: Well, my career is as a Quality Assurance professional in 3D rendering for video games and movies. So, I’d recommend studying computers and getting at least an Associates's degree in Computer Science. Getting recognition as a musician is much harder. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of passion, and then you have to meet the right people to give you a chance.
Monika: Marissa, thank you for the interview!
Marissa: No problem. Thank you for the opportunity!

All the photos: courtesy of Marissa Martinez.
Main photo by Ester Segarra.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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