“This is my fifth decade being alive, and in each of those decades, there’s been a time where I’ve tried to say, ‘Hey, I think I’m transgender, this was even before that word existed.”
In early twenties, I was on my way to coming out into transitioning. I would dress gender nonconforming and quite often explicitly feminine, and I would talk to people that I felt a closeness to about what I was going through. I experienced a lot of violence and harassment. That was part of my daily experience. Sometimes, if they happened to be walking behind me at enough distance where they would read me as feminine, they would catcall me. Getting closer to me, they would see me as masculine and then become very angry. I was assaulted on a number of occasions.
I do think the world has changed, to some degree. I have to say that makes me hopeful. Things are different than they were in 1997, despite our current overarching political system. That’s not to say there isn’t a very long way to go. But I think those experiences and then having gone through a period where I was less open about my gender identity meant I had sort of worked through some of those things. It also gave me so much compassion and admiration for people who did live publicly as trans women.
Up until this point, I felt comfortable working with my own gender fluidity, my own identification within the feminine end of the spectrum, and the politics that arise from those things through my music. Retroactively, this is a thread that goes through my entire body of work. It’s an interesting way to listen to it if you weren’t already getting that.
I feel very blessed because the world that I operate in is relatively open-minded. I mean, the electronic music world can be extremely bro-y and also close-minded and sometimes even worse than maybe a more traditional office job. However, at least where I’ve found myself, the people who are around me have been very supportive. I still had fears that I might experience consequences, mostly because I know so many trans women who have lost their jobs when they’ve come out. It’s a very unfortunate reality. There was a fear and awareness that my ability to do this really is a privilege—and it shouldn’t be, but it is.
“I’m carrying so many of these things around with me. That’s been challenging to work through having those preconditioned societal ideas of what transgender women can do,” Russom said.
|Gavin as a man|
‘For anybody who is struggling with their gender identity or who wants to come out and is afraid to what would be better than giving someone permission to do that through my performance. That’s the ultimate. It’s what other people gave to me, so I’d love to pass that along to other people, too.”