Talking with Tranpa
Hold my Drink Podcast Blog, Episode 34
Buck Angel went from being a successful fashion model, to a drug addicted, homeless prostitute, to a porn star before becoming a successful entrepreneur and public speaker. The impetus for this roller coaster of a life happened twenty-six years ago when he decided to medically transition from female to male. At the time sex transition and transsexuality were still very new, but he told himself, if it doesn’t work, I’ll just kill myself. If it doesn’t work, I have a way “out”.
Buck Angel has become both famous and infamous within the trans community and in the world at large. Appointing himself with the moniker of Tranpa, he seeks to share his wisdom with others to provide support and to care for those who, like him, suffer on the road to transition or simply just the questioning that marks the coming of age for so many. As part of this effort, he asserts an important difference between TRANSSEXUAL and TRANSGENDER, that has created quite a controversy.
According to Buck, transexual is not an identity choice. It is a means to a way of living authentically. Transgender, on the other hand, is an identity choice. When he transitioned, he did so to live life as a man, not to assert a trans identity. And so, similar to our other guests, Debbie Hayton and Zander Keig, Tranpa has run afoul of those, namely the younger generation of the trans community, who profess that biological sex, like gender, is a social construct.
And speaking of social constructs, Buck blew my mind when he described the different experiences of trans men and trans women. Trans men, born female, were socialized in a certain way and of course, vice versa. Trans women who were socialized from birth as males often transition into women with a more “commanding presence” based on male social norms, freely exercising their voice. It is for this reason that trans women are often some of the most outspoken activists for the trans community and trans rights.
The new language and labels around gender and sexuality are intended to challenge and dismantle social norms and belief systems. In some respects, this is important to normalizing the trans community. However, the original objective of establishing trans rights, has led to a revolutionary fervor that has promoted a “self-identification” movement that tramples scientific principles and can tread on the rights of others.
Join us as we talk with Tranpa and navigate the landmines of these labels with humor, humility and humanity.
In the Hold my Drink — navigating the news and politics with a chaser of civility — and Counterweight podcast, Episode 34, we speak with Buck Angel on the difference between transsexual and transgender, generational differences in the trans community, new language and labels, and his own experience and transition. Buck, who is also affectionately called Tranpa, speaks to people on perseverance and overcoming hardship, self-acceptance, and moving beyond stereotypes to live authentic lives. A former model, who later experienced homelessness, addiction and prostitution before transitioning and becoming the first transsexual porn star and now a successful entrepreneur, Buck does not allow what’s in between his legs to define him. All discussed with a chaser of civility, of course (plus some bonus tips on Buck’s work-out routines), and some water and wine.
Hold My Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we discuss what it takes to imagine a new American identity, together.
More on Buck Angel:
Walk-ins Welcome with Bridget Phetasy, How the Trans Community has been Co-Opted
The Dr. Debra Soh Podcast, Buck Angel: To Hell and Back
Buck was born female on June 5, 1962. He never felt female and struggled through life until he had the life-changing opportunity to transition from female to male and finally live life authentically. He had many obstacles during his transition mostly due to no information for transitioning FTM transsexuals. But with the help of compassionate doctors, he lives his truth and now can help to educate the world with his story. His mission is to inspire people to re-define gender and to foster a new generation as they discover the fluidity of sexuality and navigate gender politics. His message “It’s not what’s between your legs that defines you” has sparked many a conversation and opened minds to the important message that gender is what you say it is for you, and that self-acceptance is not only what makes a person happy, it’s how others come to understand you.