7 Questions – Rye

PurpledressI believe Rye may be the first participant who embraces the term cross-dresser, and I’m thrilled that they feel comfortable talking about that, both publicly through their stand up comedy and on this site. There is a definite schism in the wider trans* community between trans women and cross-dressers. Given that I’ve seen such prejudice in myself, it’s a tension I intend to explore in the future.

In the meantime, come meet Rye, and then check out his blog at Chick Like Me, and his YouTube channel.

p.s. Rye: my brother, my roommate, several of my colleagues, and I, can all quote Dressed to Kill from beginning to end on cue. And yes, the executive transvestite community is much wider than you would think. ;)

1. What’s your name? Chosen or otherwise.

Rye. It’s a shortening of my actual name, Ryan. I’ve been going by that since college. Years ago when I was still very closeted about my gender issues I used the name “Alyssa” online, but even then it always felt more like a pseudonym or screen name. Now I really just go by Rye regardless of how I present, whether it’s my typical day to day androgynous looks or the rare times that I get all done up “en femme.”

2. Who has been most supportive of your gender expression?

My friends for sure. I used to worry what effect being open about this would have on my friendships and relationships with people but I needn’t have. I have even had friends comment on how much happier and even easier to be around I became after the big reveal. I must’ve been cranky under all that baggage.

My parents have been pretty supportive, I’m blessed there. It took my mom a while but she’s coming around. When my parents visited me in LA in October I wore skirts almost the whole time they were here which was huge. The concerns they have now tend to be more about making sure I’m safe than thinking what I do is wrong.

3. What about your current gender expression is most satisfying?

First off, sleeping. By that I mean, I no longer have the insane bouts of insomnia that I used to get when I wasn’t open. I would have such bad anxiety about how the world would fall apart if people knew this about me, but now that I’m open about it, it’s so much better. Even the bad stuff I’m able to take in stride because I know what it is instead of it being a big scary monster in the dark. I made me realize how strong I was to be able to stand up and be myself.

On a different note, I also love the fun I have in being me now. I experiment so much with pushing the limits of femininity that I can get away with, which is always tricky since I still pretty much project a male image. I really love walking the dotted line between masculinity and femininity and seeing what treasures I can find.

4. Who are your trans role models? or Who have you looked up to in the trans community? Who inspires you?

Eddie Izzard, hands down. When I first discovered him in my late teen years it was monumental. I get compared to him a lot now since we both cross-dress and we’re both comedians, which can be a little frustrating because I’m my own person, but it’s also good company to be in. I can’t say enough how much his openness inspired me to be open too, in life and on stage. I really hope to meet him someday so I can tell him that.

5. What change(s) would you most like to see in the world? This can be trans related, or not, but we’d love to know where your passion lies.

I wish in general people could learn to just take a second to realize that not everyone has their brain. Every single person you meet sees the world from a different perspective than you do and so things that may seem unfathomable to you are perfectly normal to them. And vice versa. That goes for everything, not just gender issues.

Where it applies to being trans is that obviously I wish cis people would realize that just because they are perfectly content with their gender expression doesn’t mean some of aren’t and that our feelings aren’t valid.

But trans* people aren’t off the hook here either. I have had great conversations and friendly experiences with trans* folk in real life and online through my tumblr blog and many message boards or social media throughout my life, but there have been some really frustrating moments for me when I come across the trans* person who has decided to take it upon themselves to police the community. Because I have an unusual approach to my gender expression I have flat out had more “traditional” transgender people tell me that I am not even trans and that it’s appropriating for me to say that I am. I just wish there was more awareness that there isn’t a “right” way to be trans*.

6. What are you doing to make those changes happen? That’s right all, no getting off the hook! We’re all in this big ol’ mess together, and we each need to do our part. Share with us how you’re the change you want to see.

Well, I maintain my blog, Chick Like Me, where I post about experiences living in between the worlds. I still use the word “cross-dresser” even though a lot of folks treat me like the trans* black sheep for it, but I do it because even though I identify with terms like non-binary, bigender, and gender queer, I feel like when talking to cis people, it’s best to keep the language as simple as possible. I don’t think it helps to need to explain terms to every person I meet and I don’t think it’s effective either. It feels like every year there’s six more labels and seventy five more definitions for the ones we already have, anyway and even I can’t keep them straight. I’d rather skip the language lesson and move on to the “don’t hit me with things” part.

I also perform stand up comedy, and because I think my best material is the stuff that is personal and about me, I bring my gender issues to the stage with me, usually performing my show in women’s clothes.

7. Tell us something, anything, special and unique about you, your interests, your story. Never forget, gender is just one part of the larger project of becoming a fully authentic human being.

Well in fact it was my stand up that led me to eventually come out about being trans. Like I said my act had become a lot more personal for me than it was when I first started and wrote more observational material, so there came a point where I realized I was keeping this huge part of who I am hidden away and not really being honest.

My comedy and my writing is very important to me. When I can take my perspective and my ideas out of my brain and get people to relate to them and laugh with them, there’s nothing better.

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