What does a transsexual, a woman that has become a man, have to say about the process, the life and the related issues of his change? Stay tuned as we find out … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: MERRICK MOSES, PERSPECTIVES OF A TRANSGENDERED MALE
Guests: Merrick Moses
Date: October 26, 2016
Frank: What does a transsexual, a woman that has become a man, have to say about the process, the life and the related issues of his change? Stay tuned as we find out … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Yes. As always, those are my babies. Thanks for getting daddy’s daughter today.
Merrick Moses was a woman and is now a man… and I’m curious, has your sex change been satisfying or did you just think it was going to be better on the male side?
Merrick: I am walking in my authentic self. So this is—everyday, when I look into the mirror, I look at a dream come true.
Frank: That’s powerful. I was wondering… as I think about it, a sex change, I think about whether if the grass is greener on the other side. And I mean not just for you but for anyone who is participating in such a transformation. Do you think it ever is?
Merrick: It depends on the person. For me, it’s not so much about the grass being greener. It’s about finally walking in a space for [unclear] myself. So if self satisfaction is a measure of the grass being greener, then yes. But I also know as walking in a black man in America, it ain’t ever green like that. You know what I’m saying, it’s never green.
Frank: Uhuh. Uhuh. What would you say your greatest challenge related to your change is or has been?
Merrick: I think my challenges look like around family, around friends, friends who have known me for years and not just them accepting but them using the appropriate pronouns, not making assumptions, getting female who Merrick is as opposed to who I was before.
Frank: Wow, okay. Alright. That raises so many questions and I guess that’s why we’re here.
Welcome to Frank Relationships, a show for you my brethren who like me, are too young to be considered old and too old to be considered young. It’s also for those of you that love and support us. We’re here to provide weekly wisdom, conversation and the information that’ll help create loving and flexible parents and partners.
I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com. If you’re listening to the show on Blog Talk Radio, please follow us and if via iTunes, please subscribe so that you can effortlessly get the show each week.
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Greetings to my co-host, Nancy Goldring, the consummate generalist.
Nancy: Good morning, Frank.
Frank: Good morning. How are you?
Nancy: How are you? I’m great.
Frank: That yellow thing you got, the scarf type… Is that a scarf?
Frank: That looks nice on you.
Nancy: Thank you.
Frank: [unclear] with your complexion, very nice. I like this stuff.
Nancy: I appreciate that, thank you.
Frank: Today’s guest is an ordained old catholic priest, a writer, community activist and teacher. He’s also a native New Yorker and Morgan State University Psychology grad. Morgans in Baltimore for those of you who are wondering and suffice it to say with New York and Baltimore under his belt, he knows the big city. He was ordained to be diaconate—could you, could you… how do you say that?
Merrick: Ah… dia… It’s really early I’m just drinking my first cup of coffee. Diaconate.
Frank: Diaconate. In 2004 and to the priesthood in 2008. But that’s not it… He also used to be a woman. And after his transformation, he became one of the first black transman ordained within the old catholic movement in Baltimore.
So if you, like me, want to know about the surgery, what is gender identity and how gender identity may be different than sexual orientation or how it actually is different to sexual orientation, then stay tuned as your Frank Relationships team talks with the man with the transgender experience and the explanation, Mr. Merrick Moses. Welcome to the show.
Merrick: Thank you so much for having me.
Frank: You bet. Before we get too deep in today’s subject matter, I want to check in and see what’s going on in the news. Merrick, please don’t be bashful. We certainly want you to weigh in on whatever comes up also.
Okay, Nancy, you got anything for me?
Nancy: Only something I came across about not being selfish in relationship. Do you something sexier?
Frank: No, we can go with that.
Nancy: Oh. You want to go with that?
Frank: We can go with both. I got something…
Nancy: Okay. So I came across an article about not being selfish, how not to be selfish in a relationship or how to overcome it because the writer suggests that it’s not something that you can just say, “Oh I’m not going to be selfish and it’s over”. Supposedly, not even in the course of a year is that something you transcend. It’s an evolutionary process, I suppose.
And so I found myself thinking… Hmm, not being selfish in a relationship… Not putting yourself first, putting the needs of someone else before your own and I just looked at that in terms of the last few days of my life and how I was not willing to put my own needs on the back burner and everything worked out fine. Somehow, it wasn’t that I was disregarding the needs of the other people in my life. It was more that I was trying to remain balanced.
And so I looked at how I could get everything done that I needed to get done so that I did not feel resentful when it was time for me to address the needs of other people. Now, the interesting thing was, it did require me to involve, to get support for myself.
Frank: From yourself?
Nancy: For myself.
Frank: For yourself, alright.
Nancy: So there were things that I needed to handle logistically where I actually was able to get a friend to take care of for me, you know pick some things up. Here take something over there, and then I was able to keep my promise to be in a meeting that I thought would’ve been better if I cancelled. I made that meeting and was able to use some of the information I gathered there in the event that I needed to emcee on Saturday.
And so, everything worked out fabulously. And yet, if I had said “Well, let me let this go. You got to be there for other people,” I would’ve been irritated and don’t think things would’ve gone nearly as well.
So the whole idea of putting the needs of someone else before mine—I was having to ask myself “Is that a novel concept?” You know… And it really isn’t a novel concept putting the needs of another before mine responsively and managing my own emotional landscape, such that I can put you first and not necessarily disregard what I need to do.
And so, it talks about… The article talks about listening and being attentive to issue…
Frank: Where’s the article? Where did it come from?
Nancy: The article’s actually online… let’s see… and it appears to be a blog named Heyguy Inyang? I’ve never heard of him before. But I found it on Flip Board, which is my favourite place to find relationship data, just so you know. It’s called Love in Science: How to Overcome Selfishness in a Relationship.
Frank: Whoa. We’ve had conversations like this in the past I think, haven’t we?
Nancy: Okay. About being selfish?
Frank: Selfish, yeah. Have I ever shared my…
Frank: …view on selfishness with you? I think we’re all selfish.
Frank: And that’s just what we are. Sometimes, we can… Sometimes, we can look out for ourselves by looking up for someone else. We can invest in someone else—
Frank: —thinking that we’re going to get it back at some point… or that’s the better way to conduct ourselves because that’s how we view how we move in the world, we believe that we should pick up trash—
Frank: —when we walk around and we should leave—
Frank: We believe that… whatever it is. It may seem charitable to many but we actually believe in our identity as it pertains to that. And so, it isn’t really charitable. It’s for us because it’s how we… If we didn’t do it, we would have a problem with ourselves.
Nancy: Got it, yes.
Frank: And so I really question and call into question the concept of selfishness versus selflessness… because it’s… we all have a place where we want to invest. It’s like if I want to sit quietly for a given period of time in a room full of people, I may be… Some people may say I’m selfish because I’m not being social.
Frank: But the flip is if you are being social, you’re investing in those people and you may get something out of it. you make a business deal or relationship, who knows what can come out of it.
Frank: But if I decide to be quiet, that’s just my decision not to invest there. I’ve invested in something else. And some people may see that as selfish and the other people who are being social and [unclear] up the room as selfless because it’s a social event—if it’s a social event. You know, there’s all kinds of examples [unclear]…
Nancy: Right, right…
Frank: But it is just where you want to invest. You want to invest short term, long term in terms of solitude… You want to invest short term, long term in terms of being social… They would be measured very differently but that’s just my take on things.
Nancy: I hear you.
Frank: Sometimes, it works out. sometimes people view you in what you want to invest in in a good way. some people they view you and what you want to invest in in a bad way. But no matter what you’re doing, you’re investing in something.
Frank: With the intent of a return.
Nancy: Indeed. Jeff?
Jeff: You’re nuts.
Frank: Let’s hear it. Let’s hear it.
Jeff: From the outside looking in… Some people think folks are selfish if they are doing things for their family and themselves, the inner circle. I don’t view that as being selfish. I view that as being responsible.
Jeff: Now there are selfish people…
Frank: Give me an example of a selfish act.
Jeff: Well, it could be perceived that I’m selfish with my time because I work a lot. But I’m working to make my family more comfortable. So I don’t think that’s selfish. I think that’s without the risk of seeming like a martyr. I’m doing that for reasons I know I have to do and it comes from generations of work and all that stuff.
Frank: It comes from generations of who you are, what’s been given down to you [unclear]…
Jeff: Right. Trying to make the next generation better.
Jeff: Have it easier paving the way, through experience, blah, blah, blah… and by setting example.
Jeff: I think the word “selfish” comes into play in relationships a lot because people aren’t willing to compromise and that’s a whole different dynamic. That’s one on one.
Jeff: That’s between the husband, the wife, the partners that are dealing with one another. That’s… you have to come to some sort of a mutual ground where I’m going to give, I’m going to take, I’m going to share… it’s all about compromise in relationship. In the bigger social world which is what Frank was talking about, I happen to agree. It’s just a matter of perspective and if you aren’t selfish to a certain degree, perhaps you’re not being responsible.
Jeff: Either for yourself or for your family or friends.
Jeff: Or work.
Nancy: Okay. Merrick?
Frank: What do you have to say about what I said, what Jeff said, what Nancy said?
Nancy: It’s your first cup of coffee. Maybe you’re not listening.
Merrick: I believe she… I believe that it’s a balance. So we have to balance selfishness with selflessness because if… I don’t think of myself, I can’t take care of anything else. Conversely, if I’m so self-absorbed, then I’m no good to the world. So we have to strike a cogent balance between caring or self and caring for others.
You know, when I look at the gospel and we see instances where Jesus goes away to pray, I think that was him being a little bit selfish. But that’s okay because he had to get himself together, he had to meditate, he had to pray, and talk to the Father in secret. So we have examples, even in Scripture, we have examples of Moses going off and seeing a burning bush. He was with the sheep when he went off. So there are times when we do have to be selfish. But then there are times when we do have to be selfless—it’s just about balance.
Frank: To what Jeff was saying in terms of relationships, people one on one in relationships, I believe that it’s not so much compromise that is… and I’m playing with this. This is something I’ve been given a lot of thought to recently.
It’s not so much compromise as it is being in relationship. Because being in a relationship, it just means that there’s a flow that’s working and when it stops working, that’s when the relationship stops working. But if you have let’s say, if you have 10 marbles, one person wants 9, the other person’s fine with having 1, it is what it is. I suppose you can call it a compromise, however, I think it’s much more… general and less heavy when we call it just being in a relationship.
Jeff: I think you’re mixing metaphors there. Someone’s expectations are they’re going to get one marble and you give them two, you’re generous. If you give them one, you’re giving them what they expect. If you don’t give them any, they might think you’re selfish. But more to the point about sharing, is that if you’re in a relationship, the compromise isn’t so much about one or ten marbles. It’s about time and how you spend that time with the person, how much time you spend with the person.
I’d be interested from Merrick’s point of view on a congregational level, people who do charity work or some sort of philanthropic work. Do you see that as being… I don’t want to say compromise for time but these are unselfish people and I think that—atleast my perception is that—
Nancy: Theoretically, yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, that anyone in the clergy promotes that type of behavior.
Frank: hmm, true?
Merrick: That is true but we also have problems within the clergy around self-care. So this is an example that from my life, I knew a priest who had a profound addiction issue and he did not want to take time for himself. He wanted to continue in ministry, continue with his mass schedule and I was like, “You probably need to take some time off.”
So his lack of wanting to do something, [unclear] selfish kind of really hurts that ministry in the end and I think that being generous also means that we also have to be generous with ourselves as well and that’s very hard particularly if you are a person who has a pension for giving and selflessly giving. I think that we really do need to think about what that balance looks like for us, right? Because he just might [unclear] Frank mentioned in relationship. If you are in a relationship with yourself, how do you develop a relationship with yourself such that you are taking your time for yourself and then you are giving, right? 60-40 in a relationship can be balanced for that particular relationships.
Merrick: That will be [unclear] can be that balance in that relationship depending on [unclear] of the relationship. So I think that people really need to think about what works for them. We do cookie cutter examples of… trying to live a Brady Bunch lifestyle or whatever people think that is. It doesn’t necessarily work because it doesn’t work for you. You know what I’m saying?
Frank: I do know what you’re saying. Anything else, Jeff?
Jeff: No, no. It all makes sense. But again, the basic premise behind being selfish is a matter of perspective and you’ll hear it a lot with couples. And it’s mostly about time.
Frank: Not money…
Jeff: Yeah but you have to come to some sort of agreement and understanding and realistic expectations.
Frank: Okay, alright. There’s a part of me that really wants to jump in the interview but I got something else. I got something else I want to really chat about for—
Nancy: Rock ‘n roll.
Frank: Birth of a Nation.
Nancy: You said you saw that?
Frank: I did see it.
Nancy: Yeah, yeah.
Frank: Did we already talk about this?
Nancy: Well you mentioned last week that you saw it. I saw a preview for it but I haven’t seen it yet.
Frank: But did we talk about anything related to Nate Parker?
Nancy: Not that I recall, no.
Frank: I really have a fundamental—first of all, years ago, seems like almost in another lifetime, Nate Parker when he was at Pen State was it? I think it was Pen State… was accused of raping a woman. You didn’t know that?
Nancy: I did not.
Nancy: I’m serious. No.
Frank: That could be good.
Nancy: okay, okay.
Frank: And there’s been quite a bit of uproar over that and some people are even boycotting the movie.
Nancy: Oh wow.
Frank: And now he was found not guilty. There was another guy that was found guilty but apparently, he spent some time in jail. But apparently, that was overturned. The woman who accused them of raping her was… she ended up committing suicide later and I hear the fervor around whether Nate… around Nate Parker being a rapist or not.
Frank: And I can’t help but say like who knows what happened? I have no idea.
Nancy: So someone else was actually convicted of this?
Frank: Yeah so apparently, Nate Parker and another guy participated in a threesome with the woman… and I think she was inebriated or said she was inebriated to consent to the sex and that’s where the rape allegation came from.
Jeff: Yeah, it was Pen State. It was an allegation.
Jeff: he was a star wrestler. He’s from [unclear]. He was a star wrestler and have a transfer. Again, in this until proven guilty—
Jeff: He went to Oklahoma and was like the number 2 in his weight class in the country. That was his thing. But the stigma of the allegation haven’t split the original [unclear]….
Frank: It is such… it’s a such a heavy issue but in the mist of that heaviness, you, me, any of us sitting here, I am [unclear] to have a genuine opinion about whether he did it or didn’t do it because I don’t know… and as far as I’m concerned, if I don’t know, that’s not even… I’m not touching it. like I don’t have nothing…
Frank: I’m leaving that completely alone.
Nancy: Sure, sure…
Frank: And I feel like that’s the responsible thing for all of us to do. But some people are way… I mean—
Nancy: Well you know what’s confirming it for some people it’s the suicide… You know, they’re saying… and the suicide may be… stem from who knows what also… However, there are definitely in the minds of some people I wouldn’t doubt—let me atleast say—that they’re saying, oh something unconscionable occurred that the woman would take her life. So and…
Frank: Okay… I mean, you got anything—
Nancy: I mean that don’t confirm or deny…
Frank: Yeah, yeah, that’s…
Frank: The way some people spin it.
Nancy: It just makes it even more severe. It just makes the whole… situation in your mind gets ampified by the fact that she took her life.
Frank: Somebody die…
Jeff: The only thing I’ll mention about this is only because I saw it recently. The false allegations that were reported in Rolling Stone Magazine of a group rape or… at University of Virginia. And the young lady who told the story and made the whole things up.
Jeff: Rolling Stone had to apologize. It affected a lot of people. The people who were accused, the administration who are now suing Rolling Stone Magazine… All of them have said the real loser in it is is public perception of the fact that campus rape does occur.
Nancy: Yeah… yeah…
Jeff: Okay, and this is going to be a boy who cried wolf-type situation because unfortunately, it’s like “Look, she just made it up” and look what happened. Meanwhile, there are others who are not making it up.
Jeff: It’s a serious epidemic.
Jeff: And that tarnishes the credibility of anyone who comes out again. Oh they could be making it up… So again, I’m taking that little left turn there but it is tragic that the young lady committed suicide. We don’t know why. That could’ve been [unclear]… again, it’s up to… that could’ve been one of her problems that include lying about being assaulted. A high profile athlete… maybe she put herself in the… like Frank said when he started this, you never know.
Jeff: We weren’t there.
Jeff: And they park now who has a storied career… we’ve seen him in a lot of movies. That’s going to be that stigma. That [unclear]. Oh and he was a legend.
Nancy: Right, right…
Merrick: I think the part of the issue is how this rolled out. It was completely mishandled by his publicity team. They did a terrible job. And so, I think that she was [unclear] a position to constantly defend themselves and in that constant defense, oftentimes he came out as not [unclear]. I’m not saying that he was guilty or not but just the fact that this incident happened and unfortunately he exercised really poor judgment just off the break being in that situation. That being said, the way that the publicity team around him handled it—I don’t know who is his publicist—but he needs to fire them because it was a terrible job… terrible.
Frank: How would you have suggested that they handle it differently?
Merrick: Well I think one of the things that they should’ve done was get out in front of these people. I mean, I’m sure his team knew that this thing was out there. So get out in front of it, right? Also, [unclear] give that one big interview to a major news outlet in which he said “I didn’t do it. It was a terrible time. I was a young man and made really poor decisions and ultimately as a human being, I feel for her pain or whatever perception she had, but I know that I did not rape this woman. But in the end, it’s tragic when anyone kill themselves.” And lastly, people need to understand campus rape is real and he could’ve gone off into that. He could’ve held a fundraise of foreign organization that fights campus rape. You know what I’m saying?
Merrick: Like there are a lot of ways to paint a picture but a picture that they allowed him to paint and they didn’t interfere when I say [unclear] his publicity team, it was terrible. I [unclear] that.
Frank: Interesting and great response. Thank you.
Frank: [unclear] into. Okay, Brother Merrick, let’s get to the good stuff… the other good stuff. What is gender identity?
Merrick: Gender identity is one’s internal sense of whether they feel male, female or in between. There’s a multiplicity of genders which is not male or female. So it’s how you feel about who you are inside in terms of what you perceive your gender to be.
Nancy: So educate us Merrick, what are the gender identities? Because for most people, it’s just male and female.
Merrick: So under the label of transgender, there are multiplicity of genders so you do have transman, you do have transwoman. You do have demiboys and demigirls. You do have people will consider cross dressing under the transgender umbrella although some people would dispute that. People with in terms of the term transgender, I will say that all transsexuals are transgender but not all transgender people are transsexual. Transsexual has to do with someone who has taken a medical intervention to transition from gender to another. You also have people who consider themselves gender-queer, they don’t consider themselves neither male nor female. They will use different pronouns. Some people use the pronoun “they”, some people use the pronoun “we’re”… it all depends on who they perceive themselves to be.
And so when we talk about gender identity, this is not a [unclear] creation, it is actually people around the world have different gender identities and this is from [unclear]. So when we look at the indigenous people of this hemisphere, oftentimes, the native cultures recognize more than one gender.
Frank: How important are those pronouns to you? Because you mentioned that when I asked the early question in your family?
Merrick: They’re really important because when you use the correct pronouns, you’re saying you see me as I am. You see me as I see myself. Oftentimes, when people misgender some [unclear] by accident, sometimes it’s not. In my walking experience, people have misgendered me on purpose to belittle me… right? So that’s a thing. People have misgendered me because they didn’t know.
Frank: And what might—
Merrick: I was at homecoming this weekend and there was someone who I hadn’t seen in 20 years and she just couldn’t get it together, you know what I’m saying? So for me, she’s got a pass because we haven’t seen each other. So that’s a whole another level of education that I have to give this individual and who I am now.
Frank: Okay, so you see someone—mind you, I went to Morgan also and it sounds like we may have been there the same time I was there in ’89. Is that…
Merrick: I was from ’92 to ’96.
Frank: Okay, alright. How do you allow someone to get adjusted? You walk up to someone, you say “Hey” who has not seen you since your change, how does that dynamic work? Please, describe that scenario if you will.
Merrick: Well when I walk… [unclear] was talking to some friends, we have a lot of mutual friends and so… I had to really approach [unclear] and so we laugh and she said she missed me and things of that nature. But then she really like thought [unclear]. And then finally, after about an hour of her like, she wasn’t really going on and off. It was just really kind of like “Wow!” I had to be like, “Hey I’m a man now. I am transgender. I’m a transsexual.” So… and then that was the moment we were sitting in the car and I was like on reality TV [unclear] like really had a laugh about it because I really made it funny because I wanted to make it light. I didn’t want to make it heavy but this was just like one [unclear] in 20 years. So I was very gentle with her. But oftentimes, there are transfolks who aren’t so gentle because they’re fed up and they’re tired. You know what I’m saying? That can only [unclear] for myself.
And so I really treated it as a very gentle thing, in a teacher-mode kind of thing because I wanted to make that human connection with her. I wanted her to see me as I am as opposed to the girl that she knew at Morgan.
Frank: Years ago, I have a friend even he’s still a friend. He’s a gay male and he did something—I don’t really remember what. I think he kissed me on the cheek or something like that. I’ve given him a hug just greeting him and I was like “Whoa!” It really threw me off. And I mentioned it to another friend, and he was saying… the friend that I mentioned it to and just kind of… it was like… it was a weird experience. he said “You both get an opportunity to see how things are… different. How each of you deals with the differences because now he’s used to dealing (the friend that’s gay) is used to dealing with men who that’s not a big issue… and I’m not.
So in terms of interacting with each other, you got to at some level understand that they’re just some differences and talk about them. And…
Merrick: Oh absolutely. I don’t think he should’ve kissed you on the cheek. That was inappropriate. Only because that’s you’re space.
Merrick: I don’t know what was in his mind for him to do that… but that’s like your space. You know what I’m saying?
Merrick: Take my hand or greet each other as you would have greeted because it’s not like he’s [unclear] this is a sexual orientation issue. So when you’re in somebody’s bodily space and that was an invitation that you gave, that’s really much not a cool violation.
Nancy: You crossed the boundary.
Frank: Now here’s a comedic story… the same friend, he and I getting a drink one night talking and I said… there was a woman and her partner walked in. I mean, her male partner, they walked in. then I said “Wow, she’s attractive.” And he says something that just blew my mind like I couldn’t see this coming… I just couldn’t see it coming. He said, “So is he.” And I was like… I was like, oh sh…. He said, we could tag team. You take her and I take him.
Nancy: Oh my gracious…
Jeff: That’s totally appropriate…
Frank: Oh boy… So you know… One side it could be offensive and you don’t see it coming. Another side, it could be funny and you don’t see it coming. So there’s a level of respect that I try to have about the entire issue and the naivety that may come on both sides for the entire issue.
Frank: How do you deal with your family now? And tell me about the whole family process—coming out to your family, when your family began to know, was it because you said something or was it because of just who you were? I mean, based on that question itself, I could probably sit here, not say another word for the next half hour.
Merrick: It was very interesting because the last time I saw my family, they’ve moved to Atlanta now. so I went down there to see them in 2014 and that time, I had just started my medical transition so I told my aunt and she didn’t believe me until my cousin and she just asked me why [unclear] with that.
But in terms of me and my cousin, when I came out as gay in ’98, she took me to my first lesbian party. So we were good on that and she’s bisexual so she kind of got it. Although she didn’t understand it, she kind of got it. Her mother on the otherhand had a big problem and she goes “Oh I’ll never see you as this,” and she was going off and I was like “Yeah, okay.”
But the very intere… But she’s like “I love you [unclear].” And I said okay. my thing is… it’s so funny because sometimes when you see family and they kind of forget how old you are… so I’m looking at my aunt like, regardless of whether you believe in it or not, whatever there is to believe for you, I am a 40 year old man. So you don’t call no [unclear] in this body at all. But in respecting where she is and so over the months, we actually had conversation and I tried to get her… I tried to get her to understand it in a very gentle way. What turned her, her heart though, this is very interesting… she told me that she watched Caitlin Jenner’s reality TV show and that like… her heart’s saying [unclear]. And I was like “Uh okay.” [unclear] however god wants to work in your life, that’s great.
And so we do have a really good relationship now. In terms of the rest of my family, people say “well we love you” regardless. There are some people who don’t talk to me. I haven’t spoken to them in almost 30 years. I don’t really care about that.
And so at the end of the day, what I realize is that you have to get—well in terms of my life, I had to give my family time but also creating healthy balanced [unclear] for myself and standing in who I am, standing up as a man. Like because there’s—I had to draw some red lines in this planet. Some point… but in the end, when my aunt said her heart changed, that was amazing to me. That was amazing to me because my mother’s side is very… Black and southern, and some respects… my grandparents are from Virginia and West Virginia, respectively. But my father’s side is Panamanian.
So when I told my Panamanian cousin, she called me. He was like “I’ve seen from changes that you have,” and we talked about it. He was so loving and gracious.
Frank: Very nice.
Merrick: I thought that that was interesting because I expected my Afro-Latino-Caribbean family to be a little bit more [unclear].
Nancy: Me too…
Merrick: While my Black American family was much more harsh than the Caribbean people. So I think that that was very interesting.
Frank: That touches on the selfish-selfless conversation we had earlier. I mean, if you think about it, some family members could say you‘re being selfish by having an issue with us having an issue.
Frank: I mean, you spring this on us and you just want us to live with it—that’s being selfish. And so, but yet, you could say exactly what you did say. I’m setting some boundaries—
Nancy: This is my decision.
Frank: —where… Yeah, where I’ve got to help myself make a world for myself that makes sense. And so, if you want to see that is selfish in a bad way, sure. If you want to see selfish in a good way, great.
Nancy: Right, right… In ’98, how old were you?
Merrick: I was 24.
Nancy: Okay, so you were 24 when you came out. and you have been a lesbian woman… Well, a lesbian presenting in the masculine, correct?
Nancy: So then I’m… I feel like if someone in my family who I know is openly gay and presenting as a man and comes to me and says “well…”
Frank: Someone in your family that’s a woman?
Nancy: A woman or man, if they’re gay, and they’re presenting on the opposite sides.
Nancy: So she’s presenting as… Now if she’s a lesbian woman presenting as a woman and then she says “I’m going to change my sex to a man” then I would kind be confused. And yet, she’s a lesbian, she’s presenting in the masculine and now she says she wants to go ahead and do a medical transformation… Then in my mind, I’m thinking “Well of course.”
Merrick: Right but you’re progressive… Right? And so…
Nancy: It’s funny because I didn’t—
Merrick: …[unclear] pattern.
Nancy: Yeah that’s just to me, it’s just a natural evolution of a process. Now it does happen that—or should I say it is possible that you could be a… I don’t even know… Now I’m kind of confused…
Merrick: Of them presenting lesbian who decides a transition and become transmale, that does happen too.
Frank: My brain is spinning.
Merrick: I want to put it out there. Sometimes people dress in a certain way for protection, right? So we see a lot of this in [unclear]. You see a lot of these in further down the [unclear]. People will dress in a certain way and have a sexual orientation because they are trying to protect themselves.
I knew a masculine presenting woman, in the lesbian world she would probably be considered as a stone butch who told me that she does not wear men’s shoes. I’m looking at her like, well you clearly are presenting masculine. And she said because she doesn’t wear male shoes because if she did, she would be disowned by her family. This person is over 50 and a veteran of the army. So I’m looking at her like, I don’t even know why you care what they think, but everybody has to go though their family process. She’s from the Eastern shore of Maryland. So if you’ve ever been to the Eastern shore of Maryland, [unclear] near Alabama like it really is.
So her doing that was a way for her to protect herself and still be in commune with her family. Like that issue of shoes was a very big thing for them. I don’t know why, I totally don’t come from that space so I don’t know.
Merrick: But she had to do that to keep her commune with her family. And she was also one of the breadwinners in her family as well.
Merrick: So even her money than her [unclear] of her family was not good enough for easing her, to walk in her full authentic self. A lot of LGBT people go through that daily.
Nancy: Okay. So let me ask you something… so now, seems like a long, long time ago I saw this movie called “Stonewall”, okay? So one of the characters in the movie is a man presenting as a woman. He cross-dresses, okay?
Nancy: So 100% dresses up. I mean, like RuPaul dress-up, okay? Now as the story progresses, you find out that this woman-man is in a romantic relationship with the man who is a man married the whole 9 yards. She’s in a relationship with the man who owns the bar. So in a… story goes on and you see them together in a bedroom and the man is ready to leave his wife for his lover and he says, “I want you to have the operation.” And she’s like, no way. I’m like saying, “But you dress up—I mean to the nines, like a woman, make-up, everything and he’s just saying go all—let’s take this thing all the way. And then I can be with you openly and outwardly. She just felt like he was asking her to do something unthinkable and he loved her.
Nancy: So the story goes on, they go to bed and sometime in the night, he commits suicide. And I mean, you want to talk about tail spin, I was just like “oh my gosh.” But it confused me too. It confused—
Frank: Was that like the first 5 minutes of the movie or that’s the movie?
Nancy: Oh no, this is as things go on… so it confused me that she was so upset when he asked her to have the operation. I thought that like I’m thinking with you, that it would be the next… You know, it would be the next thing to do. But he was not willing to go that far.
Merrick: Every transperson’s transition looks different. So for some transgender people, they have no medical intervention, they’re not taking hormones, they’re not exploiting the various gender-affirming surgical procedures and options that are available. They don’t feel that they need to do that to be authentically who they are.
Nancy: I got you.
Merrick: So I think that one of the narratives that… a false narrative is that in order to be trans, you have to have surgery or you have to take hormones. That’s not necessarily the case. The reason why people do embark on medical intervention is to feel more like themselves and I didn’t see the movie but from what I’m hearing from you, it sounds like this person already felt like themselves. So they didn’t feel the need to undergo medical intervention to affirm who they knew they already are and walk in their authenticity.
Nancy: Got it.
Merrick: They felt that they were complete as they are.
Nancy: Yeah… Okay…
Merrick: In terms of who I am, I felt like I needed to do that because from the time I was… for the time I hit like pre-puberty, like middle school age from like 10 to 12, 13, I had been at war with my body. I was very clear about that. And so when I embarked on walking in my authentic self and I did decide to medically transition, that I decided to declare peace with my body. And so, where I’m at now, the war is over and I feel so much more clarity and just really feel good in my spirit because the war is over. But that’s my story, that’s not everybody’s story.
Frank: What conversation did you have with yourself or anyone related to you… my understanding of what you said was that you were a lesbian…
Frank: …and then you decided you were going to become man? And how did that—
Frank: Okay, did I get something wrong?
Merrick: No I was just going to say that it wasn’t that I decided to become a man, I decided to walk in who I already was and has kept hidden.
Merrick: Like so a lot of people don’t understand these levels of coming out and being out. For me as a transperson, I have engaged in many years of self-hatred. Merrick was always here but I really didn’t like Merrick too much. You understand what I’m saying? And so I got tired of being sick and tired. I have reached the age of 40 and I was like I can’t go through the rest of my life not being who I am.
Frank: So now do you still like women?
Merrick: I like women and men. My sexual orientation is bisexuality.
Frank: Got you.
Nancy: But when you were lesbian, you were lesbian?
Merrick: Yes. And so what happened was when I embarked in my medical intervention, I experienced something that people call “orientation expansion”. And so even in high school, I have dated boys in high school because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do, right?
Merrick: Growing up in a Roman Catholic household with a Baptist mother, you aren’t going to do anything else at that time.
Nancy: Right, right.
Merrick: And so… I decided…
Frank: Growing up in a Roman Catholic house…
Merrick: Say again?
Frank: You said “growing up in a Roman Catholic household with a Baptist mother.” So dad was Roman Catholic?
Merrick: Yes, my father was from Panama and he was not only Roman Catholic but if you know any Latinos who practice [unclear]. So that’s how I was raised.
Frank: Got you. And mom was a Baptist?
Merrick: So my mother… Yeah, she never converted. She… to get married at the altar, she promised to raise any children from their union as Roman Catholic. So that’s how I was Baptized and confirmed in first communion as Roman Catholic.
Frank: I interrupted what you were saying just because I was… that was a clarifying question but please continue where you were going with that.
Merrick: So where was I at? What was I saying?
Nancy: So I said… you were talking about growing up and how you did date men or boys when you were young because your Baptist mother wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Merrick: Yeah, actually not. And so when I came out at 24, that was after a spiritual process. My mother had died and I just felt at that point that I needed to live in that space because that’s where I thought I was…. But this man, this boy within me was always there. And so, it took me many years and therapy, right? I decided in 2011… I decided going to account [unclear] gender issue. He sat me down and he told, I think you’re trying and I pretty much [unclear] him out, right? But he was so patient and for 3 years, I was with him and then I decided to see a therapist who specializes in gender dysphoria and that is gender dysphoria is a great feeling of discomfort when your inside and your outside don’t match when they are incongruent to the person that’s living in the body. And so, one of the reasons I went to the gender the gender therapist is because I made a commitment to myself in 2014 that I would finally walk the way of congruence.
So when I did that, I decided in May of that year, I would try hormonal therapy for 90 days to see how I felt. And then after that 90 days, I was like this is who I am. Like I had felt so… I had felt so in alignment with myself. It reminded me of back when I was 10, when I was pre-puberty and I didn’t have any war with my body issues. So I decided that I would continue my journey and it is so profound.
Merrick: So profound.
Frank: Now you have… Apparently, you have a therapist that can say you sound like you’re trans. And I consider that though I do not know definitely, I consider that something that could fall into the new category. What do you think if you have an opinion one way or the other, what do you think happened 50 years ago, 100 years ago with individuals who may have been going through what you went through when there were no therapist that could—or no formal therapist that could tell you what you were told?
Merrick: Well we do have instances of people who pretty much cross dress or dressed as the other gender for the bulk of their life, like you have a brother named Billy Tipson who was a jazz musician and he was a fine female at birth. She lived his life as a man and then disappeared at some point. Someone told me that he disappeared because he was scared that people found out who he was.
And then you have people who was a [unclear] Smith who dressed as a man and said that she was a lesbian then she had a fundamental’s cushion, I think, conversion experience it at some point and decided that she no longer wanted to walk in her [unclear] at that time. There has been instances I know that there was a native American ambassador during the time of the treaty when the native Americans were forced to basically negotiate with the US government and this person was considered two spirits. So having the spirit of male and female, and he walked in as we would term today in a trans [unclear] light, in a [unclear] view.
So there has been instances throughout time, throughout the world where people walked in a gender that wasn’t necessarily congruent with their genitalia or how people thought they were supposed to act because they had some body part. So people just lived, they didn’t undergo medical interventions because there was none at that time but they often crossdress if you will, for lack of a better word.
Frank: And the bathroom, the current bathroom conversation that’s being had, particularly in North Carolina… are you familiar with it?
Frank: Well can you outline what the issue is? And then I have a few questions.
Merrick: The issue is there’s a house bill to that in its provisions, said that people couldn’t use the bathroom according to their gender identity. They had to go according to birth [unclear] right. And so what’s problematic with that is if you have people who are passable, meaning that they are presenting in their complete identity, so if you have a transwoman who looks like a woman, who is a woman, right? Going into male facilities because she has what has been termed the “male member”, that’s problematic. You set people up for rape, right?
Conversely, if you have a transman going into a woman’s bathroom, that’s going to make women feel unsafe and that’s not in accord with who she is as a human being. This false [unclear] of all the man are going to be in women’s bathrooms and they’re going to be attacking women, the truth of the matter is that we have more instances of people in congress going into the bathroom and trying to victimize other men as opposed to transwomen victimizing women.
So we need to kind of… we need to really understand what that is. I mean, if you look at Mr. Trump and his whole sexual [unclear] narration, I would be more scared of my daughter being in contact with somebody like that or even my son being in contact with somebody like that than opposed to a transwoman who’s just trying to pee in a woman’s bathroom. You know what I’m saying?
And so I think that this was used to really [unclear] votes, keep conservatives in power but it really backfired. But the other part of the bill was really stripping a lot of workers’ rights. So we don’t necessarily talk about that part of the [unclear] but that’s also a very important part of that bill, that people haven’t really talked about.
Frank: So do you think that it should just be whatever you have, whatever your genitalia is currently, is the bathroom that you should use?
Merrick: No. because I don’t identify as a woman. I’m not a woman. So I don’t want to be in a woman’s bathroom.
Nancy: So the ideal situation is a gender-neutral bathroom, you know how you go in places an it’s a unisex, like at home.
Nancy: But so many—
Merrick: Because a toilet is a toilet.
Nancy: Right. But so many…
Frank: Except the urinal.
Nancy: Yeah, but so many establishments are set up to separate the sexes. I guess it will turn into a matter of having to… and a unisex bathroom typically only has one… only will accommodate one person at a time so then you look at things getting backed up because we don’t have it separated. I mean women slip into the men’s bathroom all the time but they do it—
Merrick: All the time.
Nancy: —when nobody’s in there. Do you know what I mean?
Nancy: So I don’t know… I guess it’s a dicey issue… But—
Merrick: I think that gender-neutral bathrooms, if I have an establishment and I have two bathrooms, I could make it both gender neutral and there would be single stall, people could come and go as they please. I personally prefer gender-neutral bathrooms anyway but I think that in terms of the multi –stall bathrooms, that’s the issue. I think that people should be using the bathroom in accord with their gender identity. I think this issue around predatory behavior because that’s what the [unclear] was, predatory behavior, we need to really look at that and what that looks like because sexual assault does happen in bathrooms but it often involves [unclear] gender people and the [unclear] gender person is a person who was assigned one gender at birth and continues to identify with that gender throughout their lifetime.
Nancy: That’s us?
Nancy: Well, Merrick…
Nancy: I just thought I was a woman. Okay… So listen, listen… I have to know this before we go… What is it like to be a Black man in America?
Merrick: That’s very interesting. That could be a whole other show but I will say this… That going up among a lot of the men… and I have male cousins, so you hear about what it’s like to be a Black man, right?
Merrick: Or as experiencing as when I was a masculine presenting lesbian, often getting mistaken for a man and then having to deal with that and also police abuses too. A lot of times, we don’t talk about how masculine women are harassed by the police and even beat up out of police too. We don’t talk about that. but now as being who I am, walking in Black masculinity, it is a joy but it’s also very frightening because I wasn’t socialized as a Black man. So the talks that I heard on how to interact with the police, I heard vicariously through the men that I grew up around as opposed to someone saying to me “this is what you need to do to not die.”
And so as I walk in this world, I replay those conversations in my head. I pull up the voices of my male ancestors who have had those conversations when I was present in the room with other men. When I pull those conversation up to keep me safe, but there’s also an aspect of privilege that I now have in my own community that I didn’t have before when I walked in Black femininity. I think that’s very interesting too, in that being served first or people asking me am I okay and having certain spaces where Black women, particularly, older Black women look out for me when that wasn’t the case when I presented as female and how I thought that that was interesting. It gave me an insight into the behaviors that I saw from Black men when I was a child because I couldn’t understand something… like why she was doing this and why he got away with such and such. And now, as a Black man walking through [unclear], I’m like now I understand. But I also feel that it helped me, helped people bridge gender gaps because I do know now as I walk in myself, as I walk in my Black masculinity, I have a view of male and female relationships that are very uncommon, not just in my community, in the world. This is a very rare human experience.
Merrick: And I think that transgender people, if folks have the mind to do it can add as a healing agent between men and women.
Frank: How come you never ask me that, Nancy? What’s it like to—
Nancy: Because you only have one perspective, Frank, in this particular situation. Merrick’s opinion trumps yours. She has been both. He has been both and so we have the benefit, and extremely unique perspective.
Nancy: So I appreciate you having the eyes to see both sides, Merrick.
Frank: You’re listening—
Merrick: And I will say because I choose to.
Merrick: Because there are other transguys and other transwomen who don’t necessarily have that perspective, you know?
Nancy: Got it, got it…
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been talking with priest and transsexual, Merrick Moses. Merrick, anything you want us to know? Anything you want to throw out there? What you’re up to? Where we can find you?
Merrick: I’m on Twitter @merrickmoses. I’m on Facebook as Merrick Moses. I’m on Instagram @merrickmoses. The last thing I would say is that before people make assumptions, just get to know a person. If you’re not sure what a person’s pronoun is, then ask “what is your preferred gender pronoun?” and I would just ask that people be open-hearted because you never know who you’ll meet. You’ll never what that smile could do to someone or kind words to save somebody’s life. So let’s be gentle with each other.
Frank: That’s real.
Nancy: Thank you so much.
Merrick: Thank you.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed transgender issues, the North Carolina bathroom issue and the suggested resolutions, and how to navigate and deal with LGBT conversations and the issues related to those conversations with families.
Thank you to my co-host, Nancy; thank to Jeff Newman, my engineer; and thank you to my guest, Merrick Moses. You’ve been great. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had hanging out with today’s ensemble.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that I hope you create a relation that’s as loving and accepting as possible.
Let us know what you think of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. If you’re listening via Blog Talk Radio, make sure you like us there and if via iTunes, make sure you subscribe so that you can receive each week’s show.
This is Frank Love.
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