Monday, 10 July 2017

Interview with Cassidy McGuinn

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Cassidy McGuinn, an Irish-American blogger from Boston, Massachusetts, that rambles on life, love, music, and baseball (not necessarily in that order) on her blog Cassidy's Quest and YouTube vlog. Hello Cassidy!
Cassidy: Hello, Monika! Thank you so much for this invitation. I am beyond flattered! 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Cassidy: Let’s see… as you mentioned in your introduction, I’m an Irish-American gal from the Boston area. I’ve also been fortunate enough to live in Seattle and Newport, Rhode Island, two of the most beautiful places in the United States. (For your readers: be sure to try Del’s frozen lemonade if you ever visit Newport. You can thank me later!)
I am indeed a die-hard baseball fan – not just the Red Sox, the team from Boston, but also the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. To be honest, I’ll watch any baseball game. :c)
Hmm… what else? I’ve gotten into running the past few years and absolutely love it. It’s also very peaceful; I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve finished a run and realized I had worked out the solution to some issue I’d been wrestling with!
Monika: Why did you decide to run a blog?
Cassidy: Two reasons. First, I wanted to keep a record for myself of what I was experiencing/feeling as my transition progressed. Second, I hoped that others might find something in it that offered some measure of insight, comfort, or hope, the way a handful of blogs did for me when I was starting out. If even one person finds/has found something of value in it – “if she did it, then I can too” - then it will all be worth it.

Which is whiter: my complexion or
my jacket? Discuss.

Monika: I had a quick look at your most frequent post labels: transitioning, acceptance, coming out, humor, family, friendship, musings … Do they mirror your everyday experience?
Cassidy: Interesting question! Yes, I think they do. I would not be at this stage in my transition without all of those things. The support of my sister and nephew, and of my friends, has been invaluable.
As for acceptance, that’s really what transitioning is all about; learning to accept ourselves. And humor is absolutely crucial; being able to laugh at myself, and find the humor in transitioning, is so important. I’m so glad I inherited a sense of humor!
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? 
Cassidy: I woke up in the middle of the night on my 46th birthday and finally admitted to myself that I had to transition. I simply could not fight any longer. Up to that point, I had never once uttered the word “transsexual,” or allowed myself to do any research about it. I spent the rest of that night on the Internet, during which I found the wonderful therapist with whom I still work, as well as several blogs that proved to be invaluable. I’ve since become friends in real life with several of those blog authors, which has been a wonderful gift.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Cassidy: Not at that time, as I hadn’t ever allowed myself to acknowledge that I was, in fact, transsexual. It wasn't until the therapist I had called early the morning of my birthday (who is my therapist to this day) returned my call that I actually said aloud: "I'm a girl. And I want to transition."
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Cassidy: There certainly are. :c) They are far too numerous to list in full, but here’s a representative sample: Kelli (author of The Good, The Bad, and the Blonde blog, and the first person to reach out to me after I started my own blog); Alice (Alice in Wonderland); Halle (Two Spirits – One Halle); Calie (Calie’s Chronicles); Stace (Musings of an IT Girl); Jenna (Jenna’s World); and Nadine (Unordinary Style), and Calie (Calie’s Chronicles). And again, there are many more… (I would also like to mention Joey, at Joey’s iPad. I’ve long admired his blog – particularly his sense of humor. :c))
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, many trans women lose their families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Cassidy: My brother no longer speaks to me, and hasn’t for the past four years. I haven’t seen either of my nieces, in that time (although the oldest found out about me and reached out to me online). I am in touch with my parents, but it’s an evolving discussion. They do the best they can, which I appreciate, even as I wish it could be more.
My moose impersonation.
(It's a work in progress.)
The hardest thing about coming out, though, was the struggle to accept myself. It really didn't happen until nearly a year after I'd gone full-time. In retrospect, I was trying (unconsciously) to still be the person I was before transitioning *and* my true self. One morning I got up, looked in the mirror, and literally said "F*** it." And the instant I did, I finally saw myself. Not him. Me. And I haven't looked back since!
Monika: The transgender community is said to be thriving now. As Laverne Cox announced, “Trans is beautiful.” Teenage girls become models and dancers, talented ladies become writers, singers, and actresses. Those ladies with an interest in politics, science, and business become successful politicians, academics, and businesswomen. What do you think in general about the present situation of transgender women in contemporary society? Are we just scratching the surface or the change is really happening?
Cassidy: The speed with which awareness of the transgender community has grown is astounding, isn't it? You get some sense of it with the ferocity of the pushback here in the United States, particularly the odious bathroom bills being pushed by the right-wing, and the heartbreaking. They aren't going to win, though. They are on the wrong side of history.
Monika: On the other hand, the restroom war is raging on and transgender women are killed on the streets…
Cassidy: I'm reminded of the lyrics to Peter Gabriel's song "Biko," about the South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, who was murdered by the pro-apartheid government ruling South Africa at the time: "You can blow out a candle/But you can't blow out a fire/For once the flame begins to catch/The wind will push it higher."
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBTQ communities. Being the penultimate letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBTQ group?
Cassidy: The transgender cause is really still in its infancy, comparatively speaking, but yes, I think that is increasingly the case. 
Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Cassidy: I wish more transgender actors and actresses were actually cast to play transgender characters (which is not to take anything away from what Eddie Redmayne and others bring to those roles). It was so inspiring to watch Jamie Clayton's amazing performance in Sense 8; I can't wait until the casting of a trans actor/actress is so commonplace as to be unremarkable.
Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Cassidy: I'm active in liberal/progressive causes. I absolutely think transgender women can make a difference, and in fact, already are. Again, it's very inspiring!
Monika: Do you think that in our lifetime we could live to see the day when a transgender lady could become the President of the USA? Or the First Lady at least?
Cassidy: If we can elect Barack Obama as President - twice! - then I think there is a very good chance we may we'll see a transgender First Lady and/or President.

Red, white, and blue. (Mostly blue.)

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion brands, colors, or trends?
Cassidy: I certainly do!!! lol, I am happy to admit I am a clothes addict. I love stripes (see the photos for proof), maxi-skirts, and am very fond of little black dresses. (I have a short torso but long legs for my height.)
After experimenting, I discovered that I was, well, a girly girl. lol, My favorite brand is Lindy Bop; much to my surprise, I apparently was either a 1950s housewife or a Southern Belle in a previous life. :D I own three of their dresses (and counting). I would happily wear petticoats every day if I could. A girl can dream, I suppose…
Monika: By the way, I love the color of your hair!
Cassidy: Thank you, Monika! The credit really goes to my hairdresser; she’s the one who discovered my inner redhead! :D
On a related note, I’ve learned a few things while letting my hair grow the past three-plus years: a) curly hair takes *forever* to grow out (sigh); b) curls and humidity do *not* play well together; and c) scrunchies, barrettes, and ponytails are a running girl’s best friend. ;-p
Monika: Good to know! I have read somewhere that cisgender women were liberated thanks to the development of contraceptive pills whereas transgender women are free now thanks to the development of cosmetic surgery, so they are no longer prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome … 
Cassidy: Yes, I think that's true. I’m extremely fortunate in that I seem to pass without any FFS. I would absolutely have done so if needed though. On the other hand, I will eventually have implants; the "girls" need all the help they can get! :D
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Cassidy: If they empower even one person, either participant or viewer, then I am all for them!
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Cassidy: I have, actually. I have a series of posts called The Chronicles of Cass that are a sort of autobiography. I still need to write the first section, about reaching puberty and realizing something was terribly wrong, even if I lacked the resources to understand what it was.
I've shied away from writing it because, frankly, it's quite painful. But I think I need to write it anyway. Writing of the other Chronicles of Cass posts was also quite painful at times, but I invariably felt better after finishing them.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Cassidy: It's crucial. I was alone for my entire life until about a year after going full-time. It wasn't a lack of effort; I tried desperately, thinking being loved would save me. As it turns out, I was right - only the person whose love I found was mine. :c) As soon as I accepted myself, things started to change. Go figure. :D

Actually, it *is* easy bein' green!

Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Cassidy: I am, with a dear friend, but it's still in the early stages, so I'm afraid I need to keep it under wraps at the moment. It will be very cool once we launch it though!
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Cassidy: If you can, do see a therapist specializing in transgender clients. It's by far the most important aspect of my transition. My therapist has been a godsend. A friend once told me transitioning is 25% physical and 75% mental/emotional (not sure if she heard/read it elsewhere), and that certainly has been true for me.
If seeing a therapist isn't possible, writing out your thoughts can help enormously. Just beginning the process of articulating the tangle of conflicting thoughts and emotions out loud is so incredibly liberating - and empowering.
Monika: My pen friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transsexuals and transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Cassidy: I certainly do. I haven't had my GCS yet (long story), but that is EXACTLY the way I view it. It's the beginning of the adventure, not the end - and I cannot wait!!!
Monika: Cassidy, thank you for the interview!
Cassidy: Thank you so much, Monika. This was a *lot* of fun!

All the photos: courtesy of Cassidy McGuinn.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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