My latest interview with the Examiner:
By Francis Xavier LA Sex Advice Examiner
First off thank you Buck, for taking the time to talk with me! I’m a long-time admirer of your work and applaud your ability to bring an open and brave perspective to sexuality and gender.
Being as open as you are about your sexuality and gender identity must be very liberating, how do you deal with both positive and negative reactions to what you are doing and your openness about doing it?
I lived for so many years in a shell, so to finally be able to be myself and feel proud of who I am is one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced. Of course it feels great when I receive emails of praise from people I’ve helped to deal with their own gender or sexuality issues. I never had a role model when I was growing up. Things have changed so much and to see people be able to just be themselves is fantastic! And when I can help, then it’s even more amazing—especially coming from where I was.
The negative reactions will always be there. I figure that just means I am doing something right, making people think about things they never thought of before. I often post online the comments about me, both positive and negative, and that creates even more dialog and awareness. Many times when I confront negative people I end up actually changing their minds. What a powerful thing that is!
What does masculinity mean to you? Femininity?
I always encourage people to have their own ideas of masculinity and femininity. For me these aspects are about appearance to some extent. I think a lot of femininity is in the dress, make-up, and jewelry.
My masculinity is the power of my body and mind feeling as one: being strong physically, showing my muscles, and having a mind that feels at peace with my body. Obviously I am super macho looking but I am also very sensitive in many ways. Some people would describe that as a feminine trait, but it doesn’t make me feel any less of a man. Like I show in my “It Gets Better” video:
What do you consider the best qualities in a man? Woman?
This is a difficult question for me to answer because my work tries to dispel gender roles. I think for me good qualities are equally appealing in both men and women: self-confidence, honesty, openness, sensitivity, and sense of humor.
What do you feel defines ones gender? Can gender be defined?
We have always been taught that gender is defined by what is between your legs: a penis makes you a man and a vagina makes you a woman. I am in total disagreement with this philosophy. I feel that gender is so much more complicated that that. I don’t think you can just define it by a body part.
Yes, I was born with a vagina and told that I was a female, But I NEVER felt like one—I just didn’t relate to that. I always knew I was male. My family even treated me like a boy from the time I was a child.
So many people suffer terribly because society tells us that we have to fit in one of those two gender boxes. I define my gender as male, because that is how I feel, how I think, and how I relate to people. Maybe a better way to put it is that your gender is something you feel in your soul?
What message do you feel our society is still not getting when it comes to sexuality?
Oh wow! First, they always mix sexuality together with gender, but these are two different things. Many people feel they have to fit into a sexuality box (yes, more boxes) of “I am gay” or “I am straight” because we are told we have to choose.
I think that sexuality in general is fluid, especially when not restricted by society’s requirements. If you’re male, just because you might be attracted to a man that does not make you gay. It just makes you horny and sexual. What society is not getting is that we are all sexual beings and that it is totally natural to want to have sex with a variety of types of partners. We’ve got to get rid of the puritanical values that make people think sex is dirty and wrong, because it is natural and beautiful. People need to just relax and enjoy themselves more (don’t forget the condoms!).
What aspect of your work are you post proud of? Enjoy the most?
I’m super proud of having an impact on changing the way the world views gender and sexuality. I know that many people have genuinely been affected by me in positive ways. I’m very happy when I hear from transsexual guys who tell me that they have become more comfortable with themselves and their sexuality after following my work.
I really enjoy teaching and lecturing. I was so shy before my transition that it is quite ironic that my life is so open and public now, and that I actually enjoy public speaking. It just feels so powerful to see how I can change the way people perceive something just by sharing my perspectives.
Talk a little about what it’s like to be someone who is redefining the way the world sees not only gender but also sexuality and identity; it seems like this would be a huge responsibility; how do you manage it?
At first I had no idea this was going to happen to me. But through the growth of my work it just became natural and ultimately it has turned into a sort of a mission. I wake up every day thinking about how can I do something today to change the world for the better. I have a passion for this now and it feels very comfortable to undertake this role; I just feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, showing people how to find themselves, love themselves, and be proud of living as themselves, no matter who they are.
How do you feel about being a role model?
I feel great, especially because I never had a role model when I was growing up—someone to show me that I could be whoever I wanted to be. Of course I thought of the Bionic Man as my role model for a while, or Pele the famous soccer player. But really there was no one that truly defined who I was and what I was feeling.
My work is super important and I can see that it is helping to make the world a better place to live. So many people will not have to deal with all the horrible stuff I went through (self-hatred, depression, and suicide attempts), because they can look at me and say, “That is exactly how I feel.”
I know I am a good role model because I am a positive person, and I’m helping others to love and accept themselves.
Can you talk about your recent surgery; what thoughts/emotions came up for you while going through the experience? Anything that surprised you?
I just finished getting a hysterectomy; it was not an elective surgery as I’d had a really bad infection in my fallopian tube and uterus that made the surgery mandatory. I had never really wanted to get a hysterectomy because I felt just fine the way I was, and my gynecologists at my regular check ups always told me that everything was fine. I even spoke out against trans guys getting this surgery at the beginning of their transitions, as I felt that it was not something that needed to be done right away. Now my belief is that if you are on testosterone for at least five years you should talk to your doctor about the medical advisability of getting a hysterectomy.
So basically after about twenty years using testosterone my uterus, ovaries, and cervix atrophied. The surgery actually took four and a half hours when it should have only been two, but because my organs were so atrophied it took longer to remove everything.
What do you hope will be your legacy?
That I have made the world rethink what makes a man and what makes a woman. The nude bronze sculptures of me by artist Marc Quinn make a pretty cool legacy too….
What would be your dream project to work on?
There’s a few things that are brewing and they’re all exciting. One is a one-man show/motivational speaking tour, and another is writing a book—my autobiography. Another might be a reality TV show. The sky’s the limit!
What’s up next in 2011?
I’m traveling around a lot as usual to gay pride festivals, film festivals, and working on my documentary about transmen’s sexuality. Soon I’m going to be in Las Vegas with the company that is producing the new Buck Angel toys/art objects.
Where can my readers find you on the web?