Friday, May 8, 2015

Can We Talk? Ian Harvie Part I

Ian Harvie
Photo: Miki Vargas
"I don't understand it, but I accept it is societies go to phrase. It stops us from really putting ourselves in someone else's place. It keeps us from really going there. But we could go there, and if we allowed ourselves to do that we would really understand it." - Ian Harvie

The above quote is a little paraphrased but it stuck with me after I turned off the recorder and Ian and Myself were chatting off record. This is one of the most eye opening, honest things I have heard in a long time.

For those of you not in the loop Ian is a transgender comedian/actor and friend. Post Bruce Jenner's recent interview let's keep the dialogue flowing...

Note: Because this is a long interview and was so interesting. I am doing something I have never done before and presenting it in two parts.

MS: I caught you on Comedy Central's The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, you were really great!

IH: Well I did have the benefit of knowing the subject matter going into the show. It isn't like I was going to talk about astrophysics (laughs) I was there to talk about gender and Jenner. Some topics I am super familiar with. As you know I have been thinking about these things for decades. (laughs)

MS: Not sure if you remember this, but...I saw you when your scruff was first coming in and I reached up a grabbed your face and felt it, and said: "Your getting your scruff how cool!" Then I thought how rude I was for not asking you to. You just smiled at me.

IH: Had it been a complete stranger, I don't know if I would have said something to you, but my body language might have been something other than "alright, whatever" you know. (laughs) I also think it has to do with context. Context is everything. Even when we spoke on the show about the use of the word "Fag" or "Tranny" whatever language is like the "N word" of any given community it's all about the who and how it's being used. So you coming up to me an touching my face, it's really context, and I believe that I am intuitive enough to understand when someones context even without words. Just by their actions, it's really rare that someone is coming up to you with ill intent. I know that people are worried about it, that they look for it even when it is not there. I've watched so many people misinterpret things that were clearly not what they were thinking it was. They are hyper vigilant about the topic of people being derogatory about Trans-People and not getting storylines right because they have gotten them wrong for so long, that our community is incredibly sensitive, as they should be, but even about things that were not with male intent. Even with Larry Wilmore on the show, he would tell me to write certain things down and I'd slide it to him and he'd say it anyway, part of it was to be shockingly comedic. Part of it was to name the word for people even though I didn't want to say it, it was to start a dialogue around it, Larry wasn't calling someone that name. he was saying the word. Then people got in a major uproar about it. Context for me is everything.

MS: I agree. I am sometimes off the cuff so I was curious about what you thought about that. Obviously what I did was without any bad intent, however it was so spontaneous...

IH: Also having seen someone before who did not have facial hair, and the next time you see them it's like "holy shit you have facial hair" there is probably a physical draw in an innocent way that makes you want to reach out and touch it. It's like "Wow!" and your hand just goes out in front of you. (laughs) I kind of don't blame people it's a really miraculous fucking process.

MS: I know this is something that I may be saying out of turn, but you are a cute guy.

IH: Here's the thing someone said this on Facebook the other day and I have to agree with it, it's time that Cisgender people, and I don't mean this as an insult to you or to anybody, get over the fact that Transpeople are hot. It's like we are somehow exempt owning beauty and I am not the hottest dude on the planet. There's a thought culture because we are Transpeople we are not thought of as hot. When Transpeople are hot it is somehow an even more heightened kind of amazement on Cisgender peoples part. My God they're Trans and their hot! (both laugh)

MS: I've only ever known you as a guy, if someone hadn't told me that you were Trans I don't think I would have known.

IH: It's the whiskers. (laughs)

MS: When I say something it's in general terms it's never about pointing something out.

IH: My sentiment probably applies more to Trans-Women. Because they have been the subject of such misogyny. They hear that they are not woman enough, they are not pretty enough for the male gays. What I am saying is probably more applicable to the Trans-Women community. People when they see someone in that community, when they comment they are hot, it's shocking probably more so than for Trans-Guys. Please don't take this as an insult, but I guess I take that as a compliment that someone finds me attractive. Because I have struggled with my outward appearance for so long, that I never actually felt hot myself. It never ever sunk in. I've spent over forty years not feeling beautiful and for the first time I do feel beautiful.

Keep it real with Ian at:

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