This 7 Questions submission comes from Antonia, or Toni, also known as Dyssonance, or Dyss for short. That may seem like a lot of names, but as the Empress of the Known Universe, a legion of sobriquets is well justified.
Toni is part of This is HOW, a Phoenix based trans crisis center, blogs at Dyssonance.com, and has a fantastic laugh. Also below is a written version of her responses, slightly different than what’s in the video (provided by Toni):
So, many of you may be aware that there is a video project going on that started on Twitter and just went wild.
It is called the 7 Questions project, and comes from a group called “We Happy Trans“.
The idea is to answer 7 questions in video form.
Now, most of you know that every time I post a video of myself, I get a crapload of shite from the haters. What you don’t know is that I also get a lot of stuff from people I’d rather not know — icky people who think that because I have a video and I am good at picking on people, that I must just really be lonely and horny and desperate.
I prefer not to deal with sickos — haters are easy, but sickos are well, sick. Slimy. Blech.
But, this is such a good project and a great idea, that I’m jumping in and doing it anyway. In both print and video format.
And so, without further ado, the 7 Questions:
1) WHAT’S YOUR NAME? CHOSEN OR OTHERWISE. NOW, BEYOND YOUR NAME, I PERSONALLY DON’T REALLY CARE HOW YOU IDENTIFY. I’M NOT ENTIRELY COMFORTABLE WITH DEFINING MYSELF IN THE TERMS WE’RE GIVEN, AND I KIND OF ENJOYING WATCHING MY MIND STRUGGLE TO GENDER SOMEONE. IT’S AN AUTOMATIC HABIT, AND NOT ONE I CARE TO ASSIST. HOWEVER, IF IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU TO BE KNOW AS A TRANS MAN OR WOMAN, CROSS-DRESSER, QUEER, ANDROGYNOUS, NON-BINARY, OR WHATEVER, OR IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO USE CERTAIN PRONOUNS WHEN REFERRING TO YOU IN COMMENTS OR DISCUSSION, GO AHEAD AND LAY THOSE ON US. WHATEVER YOU’RE COMFORTABLE WITH.
My name is Antonia Elle D’orsay. Most people call me Toni, but I am also known as Dyssonance, or Dyss for short. And that, all by itself, gives most reasonable people all they need to know about all the rest of the stuff.
I am rather well-marked for having a strong dislike of people using identity as a millstone by which they measure themselves against others, and because identity politics are a zero sum game that no one walks away a winner from.
2) WHO HAS BEEN MOST SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR TRANSITION? IF YOU HAVEN’T STARTED TRANSITION, WHO’S BEEN MOST SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR GENDER EXPRESSION, QUESTIONING OR EXPLORATIONS?
I have a lot of people who were supportive of my transition, and they were pretty much so without much of a problem that they’ve let me know of, anyway.
If I have to pick one person who was most supportive, it would have to go back to the person whose efforts made it possible for me to make it through that when I was at a very dark place. So that would be Regina. She’s a trans person, herself. After her, the list is a bunch of ties among a list of incredible people, some of whom knew me before, and some who only knew me during.
3) WHAT DO MOST ENJOY ABOUT YOUR LIFE SINCE BEGINNING TRANSITION? THAT IS, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU LOVE DOING NOW, THAT YOU COULDN’T DO BEFORE? AND IF YOU’RE NOT THERE YET, WHAT ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF TRANSITION EXCITES YOU THE MOST? WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO?
I have a lot more energy and interest in things since my transition. I should note, before I go on, that I am one of those people who holds that transition does end. Not everyone does, and there is no right or wrong answer to that question, because for some people it doesn’t end.
It is a matter of approach to the process and approach to life. For some people they are the same, for me not so much.
So for me, after transition, the world is very, very different for me. Not so much because the world has changed, but because I have. I have more energy, because I don’t use up so much being worried about some secret or protecting myself or pretending to be something I am not.
I get to do all the things I never was allowed to do before — not all of them good things, but when you don’t get to do something, you want to try it once, just because.
Mostly, and above all else, I get to be me. Which can be messy and uncontrolled at times, but because I spent so much time and energy being something else, I didn’t always get to learn about me as much as I would have liked. So I get to learn things about me that surprise me at times, ad that I can either embrace or sorta try not to let happen anymore according to how well it works out, lol.
4) WHO ARE YOUR TRANS ROLE MODELS? OR WHO HAVE YOU LOOKED UP TO IN THE TRANS COMMUNITY? WHO INSPIRES YOU? WHETHER IT’S SOMEONE YOU KNOW, OR SOMEONE YOU’VE ADMIRED FROM AFAR, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO GIVE A SHOUT OUT.
Oh dear. Ain’t this a loaded question for me? Best I can do is a no particular order thing, and inevitably I will leave someone off. Also, its me, so I can respect people who have differing viewpoints, and I can look at them and admire what they have accomplished.
Regina Wells, Trudie Jackson, Tae Jackson, Renee Thomas, Erica Kepler, Rebecca Allison, Monica Roberts, Vanessa Foster, Sean-Michael Gettys, Masen Davis, “Voz”, Lisa Harney, “little light”, Susan Stryker, “Amber” of amberspace, Diana Ruck, Mara Keisling, Isis King, and Janet Mock. Plus, the woman whose life constantly pushes me forward, Marsha P Johnson.
I probably left off about five dozen names, but those are the most important and sometimes most symbolic of the people who have been people I looked up to, been inspired by, or admired from afar or known personally.
Role model is a hard question for me, in and of itself — the rest is easy, but role models are something I’m way too stubborn to use because then I’m not being myself, and that’s key to my life.
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.
A complicated question for me, personally, since I have many passions and many things I would like to see changed in the world. I’m going to choose to interpret this question to mean what changes would I like to make in this world, and then get all humble and shit and say that I would just like to make a positive change for people.
Then follow that with a smile, parade wave and curtsey before I get back in line with the other contestants.
Sorry, I do have a strange sense of humor.
For me, my passion lies in helping trans people succeed in their lives as independent, healthy people. In broader terms, well, I have a rather extremist view about the power of petroleum on our culture, our infrastructure, and our future but none of the solutions I would propose would be, shall we say, welcomed (even by me).
After that, I just want to open up an Inn. Kinda simple that way, really despite all the high falutin stuff.
I am following my passion, as well, and now I get to do a plug for it, as well!
I work for and support This IS HOW, a first of its kind organization that’s served trans folk in the Phoenix Metropolitan area in a red state that sometimes seem like it is doing all it can to make those lives harder. The motto is “life made better”, and we live by that.
You can learn more about This IS HOW at www.thisishow.org.
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.
I really should read ahead, lol.
Ok, short list:
For a population of roughly 16,000 trans people in the metropolitan area:
Help other groups get materials to fundraise for themselves
Provide shelter for the homeless
Provide food for the hungry
Give clothing to people in need
Help people start their own business
Recognize heroes in the community
Publish a monthly magazine
Help rape victims
Help domestic violence victims
Help business to reduce discrimination
Support changes to local laws and policies
Help families and Children
Provide safe emergency shelter.
Promote sobriety and freedom from drugs.
Make sure the needs of people of color are not overlooked.
Provide support groups for persons of color
Help people get off the streets
Make sure that the neediest people get access to medical care, in a state that has told trans people they can’t get medicaid (AHCCCS).
Promote more efforts to aid LGBT and trans people.
Help out families going through deeply emotional ordeals.
Give people without family love and affection in the holidays
Reduce workplace harassment
Help ex-offenders re-enter society productively
Provide support during challenging Crisis Points
Prevent the spread of HIV & other STDs
Promote safe sex
16,000 trans people and their families, friends, businesses, employers, and service providers in the Phoenix metropolitan area
Support Conferences and festivals that boost the economy
Provide equipment and needs to the community
Increase the number of safe bathrooms in the valley
Teach self care, healthy habits, and good living
Support the arts, bringing new talent to greater exposure
That’s the short list, and what it really translates to is I spend a lot of time talking to people and explaining trans stuff to them, helping trans people with a place to live and the basics of transition, and striving to make things better, all while begging for money because we do it all on small dollar donations.
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.
Something Special and Unique about me, my interests, or my story.
I’m Antonia Elle D’orsay. There ain’t a whole lot of me’s running around.
But beyond that, things that make me stand out — I’m black and white and red all over. I’m deeply familiar with sociology, psychology, and religion.
That’s the best I can come up with. Because, in the end, I’m really not all that special. Or at least, no more special or unique than anyone else.
I am, of course, Empress of the Known Universe, but eh, that’s just my galactic sized ego talking. Which is not only not special, but not really all that important.
And now that I’ve written all of that, it is time to do the video…