There’s a new transgender voice on the mainstream platform; Rhyannon Styles is a performance artist now writing a column for Elle UK. A column in which she reflects on the gender transition she began from male to female in 2012…..
Text JF. Pierets Photos Courtesy of Buck Angel
Buck Angel is a female-to-male transsexual and founder of Buck Angel Entertainment. As an adult actor, he was able to create a unique niche, calling himself “The Man With a Pussy”, as he had not had any genital surgery and still possessed a vulva. In 2007 he received the AVN Award as Transsexual Performer of the Year and in April 2008 he was presented with a “Feminist Porn Award” for “Boundary Breaker of the Year”. Today, he travels the world as an inspiring advocate, educator, lecturer and writer. A tête a tête with an inspiring personality.
In an interview I read that you always wanted to be a man. Nowadays, your individual self is your brand. How does it feel to be looked at as something special when for you it was inevitable?
I always felt like a man, so of course I wanted to be looked at as a man. I felt this way my whole life, but so many people did not see me that way when I was younger. As I got older it made me feel horrible about myself. When I was able to change my physical appearance to match how I felt on the inside, it made me the happiest person in the world! I am so happy that now people see me for the man I am and it makes people realize that you can become whoever you want to be. Society should not put limitations on you just because they do not understand. So I like that the world views me as something special; I think this is a good thing.
Transwomen are more visible than transmen. Why do you think that is?
Well I cannot speak for transwomen or transmen, really. I think we are all different in how we want to be visible in the world. Though I do think the visibility of transwomen has been more widespread because they have been around longer as a community. Transmen have just started to become more visible because the community is now becoming larger and more active.
You are – amongst many other things – a pornstar, an educator and a writer. Yet, there’s a very fragile glance in your eyes.
I am indeed all the above, though I’d like to think of myself more as someone who motivates people to think outside the box and to become themselves, like I have. My eyes…well I have lived through some rough times before my change. I was homeless and suicidal, and I was a drug addict. My past was sad in many ways, but I like to think that I have overcome it. Maybe my eyes still show the hurt that was in my soul for so many years? I know that this pain has helped me to have compassion for others. I feel very blessed and grateful for the happy life I have now, and I hope that I have the ability to inspire others to overcome the pain.
You just started a dating site for transmen. “Buck Angel Dating. A safe environment for those seeking out relationships or just fun with transmen and the people who love them”. What if it turns out to be a site for fetishists? Would that bother you?
Interesting question. Why do people think that fetishizing something is bad? I am not saying that this site was intended to do that—I just opened the site for people to have a place to meet because there was clearly a lot of demand. It isn’t just for people looking to have a partner but to also for those who want to meet to have sex without having to explain their transgender status. On my dating site that is not an issue, so you can just get on with having a good time. Some people enjoy being fetishized; I do. So maybe some people will go there with that intention? You know there are some in the trans community who call themselves “activist” and they hate that I am a pornographer. They think it hurts the trans community. I think that is so sad, because my whole life changed for the better when I finally learned to love my body and have sex without feeling guilty. Many trans people feel that someone will never want have sex with them or they don’t feel sexy because their bodies are different than what society tells us is sexy and normal. My work helps to change that and show that if you love yourself (and yes, that includes sex) then others will too!
You are a pioneer and an educator. I think that comes with large responsibilities? When did you decide to talk to people about your experiences?
You are right—it came with a bigger responsibility than I thought. I have learned so much by putting myself out there. I have had some in the trans community tell me that I am a bad person for saying things that I felt were important. But you know I think that by talking about my experiences some people (or maybe many people) can relate to me and feel less alone. I had a tough time in the beginning of my change as I had no community and no one to talk to or identify with. I think by me talking about this I can show how far I have come just because I had determination to be myself.
‘I hope that I have the ability to inspire others to overcome their pain.’
The other reason I feel passionate to talk and educate is because some people in the trans community say there is only one specific way to be a trans person. This makes me even more passionate and I want to help the people who are individuals and who want become their true selves, and not have to fit how the community wants them to be.
Your website reads that you are “re- defining gender and educating an entire generation on the fluidity of sexuality and identity politics.” I guess that sounds very complicated to someone who’s not into the subject matter. How would you rephrase your message to the mainstream public?
I think you are right about that. Maybe I should rephrase it for the mainstream and say something more like, “Showing you that becoming yourself and loving yourself can make you happier.” This is really the message I want to project. Since I have learned to love myself and create the body that I always wanted to have, I am so happy and comfortable with myself. It can be quite tiresome to always worry what people think of you and it can make life miserable—not just for trans people but anyone. I have all kinds of friends and fans who ask me all the time, “How can I live life like you do, without a care of what other people think?” I would always say that “Just learn to love yourself and become yourself.”
The overriding theme of your work is about self-love and acceptance. Are you a positive & optimistic person?
For sure I am! This is truly one of the keys to being happy. It took me many years to learn this but with determination and the desire not to have hate in my life, I have done it. The odd thing is that I notice the more “popular” I become, the more of a target of hate and envy I become for some in the trans community. Their hateful words kind of shock me sometimes, but I learned to not take these comments personally. I know that these people have not learned to love themselves like I have. They experience these reactions towards a person like myself who is free of that.
“A day in the life of Buck Angel”. What to expect?
Ok, you will be shocked! I think people think I have some crazy lifestyle but really I am pretty mellow. My days are spent at my awesome home in Mexico (if I am not on the road working). I am married and have 7 rescue dogs and spend my time with them. I love to read and also workout everyday. I am also very much into health and fitness. I think this is a very important part of loving yourself.
It was great talking to you. Thank you very much and I wish you lots and lots of success.
Thank you so much for the interview and I hope that my work can help to inspire some of your readers.
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