domingo, 9 de agosto de 2015

SKYLAR KERGIL [English Version]

"Hey! I'm just your friendly neighborhood Skylar - queer, transgender, artist, college graduate, lover of mountains and good coffee, and I thought I was brown haired until my barber told me I was a blonde the other day."

And so begins the introduction of Skylar Kergil in his website. Singer, songwriter, poet, activist in the LGBT scene, who documents on Youtube his gender transition since 2009. From Massachusetts, now living in Boston, Skylar is our first transman to be interviewed. With a lovely personality, he tell us a little of his history and opinions.

CDOROCK - How did you start to play and write music?

SKYLAR - Music entered my life at a young age, mainly with my dad jamming on the same four chords on guitar and reminiscing about playing in cover bands "back in the day." I gravitated toward the guitar when I was 11 or 12, picked it up and haven't put it down much since. Poetry has always been a huge force in my life, and learning to play music helped me communicate around words in a way I hadn't before.

CDOROCK - You released a new EP recently – Tell Me A Story. It is your second álbum. How is it different from the first álbum, Thank You?

SKYLAR - One of the biggest differences is the maturity of it. Thank You was written over many years, sort of a combination of many songs I had crafted, ranging from high school through post college workings. Tell Me a Story was written more intentionally, over a shorter period of time – think one creative burst rather than six years of them. Tell Me a Story also features some of my best friends whose musicianship and inspiration helped mature the EP beyond its acoustic skeleton.

CDOROCK - Is the acoustic style just a preference or it helps to convey your messages in any way?

SKYLAR - I prefer to play acoustic mainly for the ability to travel with the songs. I also prefer my music to be easily accessible and not require technology or electricity in order to exist – there is something necessary and freeing about that for me.

CDOROCK - Would you like to explore other styles in future?

SKYLAR - Absolutely, I've been enjoying writing songs in other styles as a challenge to myself and am beginning to love some of the ways these elements can merge! There is also a little part of me that longs to craft beats.. I just seem to have no luck with it ;)

CDOROCK - Do you have some influences to write and play?

SKYLAR - Of course! One of my biggest influences is Elliot Smith, whose lyrics were also autobiographical, and his style often remained lo-fi as well. On the other hand, Jack Johnson really inspires me on happier days.

CDOROCK - How autobiographical are your lyrics and poems?

SKYLAR - Very much so – I never realized how raw my poetry was until I reread some things I wrote a couple years back. My writing simply is an extension of myself... I try not to think about it too much or I'll get all shy with the vulnerability of it all.

CDOROCK - In music, we do not have many references of queer, homosexual or transgender artists. But do you have any idols that you think has contributed to visibility and rigths of lgbt community? Any singer or band that you like to name?

SKYLAR -I really love Lucas Silveira of The Cliks, a canadian band. His transition was fantastic to watch and he spoke very openly about it and his role in activism. Mary Lambert is a gay artist I really enjoy as well, especially because she speaks to the intersectionalities of queerness, other identities, and music.

CDOROCK - Nowadays there are many transgender people talking about their experiences and exposing themselves on internet. You, for example, even have a Youtube channel. How this initiative has contributed to help other people socially and politically?

SKYLAR - By sharing my story online, I found community with others whereas I had previously felt very isolated in my high school. The internet has allowed transgender people to connect, feel empowered, and share resources. For allies or those interested in learning more about the community, the vast array of first person narratives allows a more diverse perspective of what it means to be trans – honestly, it is different for every person! I hope that the web of these stories illustrates that most of all.

CDOROCK - Do you see a possible sexualization of trans men currently in the media? What do you think about it?

SKYLAR - I'm not so sure, as I would like to think the trans men who are enjoying media light are comfortable with the ways in which they are being portrayed. However, I have definitely noticed a notion of "Trans is cool! Trans is trending!" and it worries me that transgender people could go from being invisible, not in the media at all, to being visible in the media but reduced down to one aspect of their humanity – that of being trans – and the obsession with the transgender body. I enjoy seeing first-person narratives of experiences, like that of memoirs or vlogs on YouTube, because I feel that within those mediums, transgender people can control the way their story is told and that is crucial.

CDOROCK - Do you perceive differences in the way that transgender men and women deal publicly with their condition and how much they are politically motivated?

SKYLAR - It would be difficult me to answer this as I have only lived my experience, but I do find that the transgender women I know do experience the dangers that come with living openly as 'transgender' than my transmale friends do. It is impossible to ignore the staggering rates of violence against transgender women. It breaks my heart daily. There is an urgency in our societies to accept women, to accept transgender women, and to treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve. 

CDOROCK - For some cis people, sexuality seems not to be a big problem or even the labels about that. For some transgender people is it different? I mean: transexuality, beyond the issue of gender, turns sexual orientation a more complex issue?

SKYLAR - I don't believe that is necessarily true. Being transgender impacted my sexual orientation only because a lesbian is a woman who likes women – and I didnt identify as a woman – but the rest of society identified me as a woman.. so was I a lesbian? I hardly thought about this though – learning my identity was more important than putting a label on what my identity is.

CDOROCK - Do trans people still suffer prejudice in cisgender lesbian and gay communities?

SKYLAR - Absolutely. This can occur in many ways, whether that be exclusion from LGB spaces or being verbally harassed by other LGB identified folks. I am sad to admit that the majority of my bullies identified within the LGB community; usually this has taken form withcomments  such as "You know you are just a lesbian just like us – we know you will transition back and realize your mistake, you're not fooling anyone" from the women's community. Or alternatively from the gay men's community I have heard "You will never be a man, no one will ever want you with your disfigured body." People are people, they will have prejudices regardless if they may also be oppressed or a minority group. I have also been verbally harassed by other transgender people, usually them deciding if I am or am not "trans" enough, whatever that may be. I choose to keep being myself; if I do not want others to judge me, I do not judge them.

CDOROCK - In one of your videos, you talk about the difficulties of sexual transition. What advices can you give to people who want to start this transition?

SKYLAR - Be yourself, it can be a long journey to discover your many identities, but know that we are all still learning. The best you can do is the best you can do – whether you are just asking questions, coming out to others, or choosing to begin your physical transition – know that you can only control your own actions and reactions, but you can't control those around you. It can be scary, heck, I've been scared for a lot of my life, yet every step of this journey has been worth it. I feel whole and happy and true.

Photos: Julia Luckett / Skylar Kergil / FTM Magazine

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