Transcript: Widening the Lens on Gender | Dec 05, 2018

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black blazer over a checkered blue shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Widening the lens on gender. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says VIVEK SHRAYA IS A VISUAL
ARTIST, MUSICIAN, AND WRITER
WHOSE WORK OVER MANY YEARS HAS
EXPLORED AND CHALLENGED IDEAS
ABOUT GENDER.
HER LATEST BOOK, "I'M AFRAID OF
MEN," HAS CAPTURED THE ATTENTION
OF A WIDER AUDIENCE AND SPARKED
CONVERSATIONS ABOUT IDENTITY AND
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN.
AND WE'RE PLEASED IT BRINGS
VIVEK SHRAYA TO OUR STUDIO.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover is pink and mauve.
Vivek is in her thirties, with long wavy blond hair. She wears a bright red shirt and a bindi on the centre of her forehead.

Nam continues IT'S NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

Vivek says THANKS FOR
HAVING ME.

Nam says SO WHO IS VIVEK SHRAYA?
I JUST SAID WHO YOU ARE.

Vivek says YOU JUST TOLD ME.

Nam says WHO IS VIVEK SHRAYA?

The caption changes to "Vivek Shraya. Author, 'I'm afraid of men.'"

Vivek says WELL, FIRST AND FOREMOST, I'M
AN ARTIST, AND I AM... HAVE
IMMIGRANT PARENTS.
I'M QUEER.
I'M TRANS.
I'M A LOVER AND A FIGHTER.
YEAH.
I DON'T KNOW.

Nam says WHEN DID YOU FIRST
START TO QUESTION YOUR GENDER
IDENTITY?

Vivek says I MEAN, IT'S INTERESTING
BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW THAT I HAD
ACCESS TO THAT KIND OF LANGUAGE
WHEN I WAS GROWING UP IN
EDMONTON IN THE '80S AND
'90S.
FOR ME, I CAME OUT AS TRANS TWO
YEARS AGO.

Nam says IN YOUR 30S.

Vivek says YEAH, IN MY 30S.
SO I WAS 35.
AND AGAIN, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE
OFTEN LIKE, WHEN DID YOU
TRANSITION?
I DON'T THINK THAT I WAS
DELIBERATELY THINKING IN THOSE
TERMS IN MY 30S?
I WASN'T LIKE, OH, NOW I'M
THINKING ABOUT TRANSITIONING.
IT ALL HAPPENED VERY
INNOCUOUSLY.
I GAVE UP WHAT I WAS IN MY 20S
AND 30S.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

The caption changes to "Changing minds through art."

Vivek says I THINK AS A FORM OF
SURVIVAL, I LEARNED THAT
ANYTHING FEMININE FOR A BOY TO
CARRY FORWARD OR POSSESS WOULD
CAUSE HARASSMENT OR VIOLENCE,
AND SO I SHOWED A LOT OF... YOU
KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS I TALKED
ABOUT IN "I'M AFRAID OF MEN," I
STOPPED WEARING COLOUR.
I LEARNED VERY QUICKLY IF I
WANTED TO GET RED AS A BOY, I
NEEDED TO WEAR BLUE, BLACK, OR
GREY.
IN MY 30S I STARTED RECLAIMING
SOME OF THIS, I STARTED WEARING
LEGGINGS AND NAIL POLISH AND
SUDDENLY IT STARTED EVOLVING
INTO WANTING TO BE CALLED SHE
AND HER, USING THOSE PRONOUNS.
YEAH.
AND HERE I AM.

Nam says SO YOU FIRST CAME OUT
AS BEING GAY WHEN YOU WERE
YOUNGER, IN YOUR 20S?

Vivek says MM-HMM, IN MY LATE TEENS.

Nam says AND WHEN DID YOU...
YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE
LANGUAGE.
BUT HAVE YOU ALWAYS FELT THAT
THAT WASN'T WHO YOU WERE?

Vivek says YEAH.
I MEAN, THE TRUTH IS, I WAS
ALWAYS ATTRACTED TO A RANGE OF
PEOPLE, AND I WAS TOLD VERY
QUICKLY AGAIN BY OTHER GAY
PEOPLE WHEN I STARTED MEETING
THEM, NO, NO, NO, YOU CAN'T BE
ATTRACTED TO GIRLS.
YOU'RE CONFUSED.
YOU'RE GAY.
SO THAT WAS WITH SEXUALITY.
AND WITH GENDER THE SAME THING
WAS HAPPENING, YOU'RE A BOY,
YOU'RE A BOY, YOU'RE A BOY.
SO MY WHOLE LIFE I'VE BEEN TOLD
WHO I AM BY OTHERS, ESSENTIALLY.

Nam says IN THE BOOK TOO YOU
WRITE ABOUT, YOU KNOW, LIKING
CERTAIN PARTS OF YOUR BODY, YOU
KNOW, WHEN YOU IDENTIFIED AS
BEING A MAN.

Vivek says MM-HMM.

Nam says LIKE, THE MUSCLES AND
THE HAIR.
AND NOW YOU HAVE KIND OF PUT THE
TWO TOGETHER.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT... WELL,
LET ME JUST ASK YOU.

Vivek says SURE.

Nam says HOW HAS THAT BEEN LIKE
FOR YOU, LIKE DEFINING WHO YOU
ARE AND WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE?

The caption changes to "Vivek Shraya, @vivekshraya."

Vivek says I MEAN, IT'S A
WORK-IN-PROGRESS.
I THINK THAT I OFTEN HAVE FELT
PRESSURE TO BE ON ONE SIDE OF
THE SPECTRUM OR ANOTHER.
YOU KNOW, AS YOU TALKED ABOUT,
LIKE WITH MASCULINITY, IT'S LIKE
IF I WANTED TO BE A BOY IN NORTH
AMERICAN, IT MEANT HAVING BIG
MUSCLES, IT MEANT HAVING A
BEARD.
AND NOW BEING A GIRL, I FEEL
LIKE I'M SUPPOSED TO GET RID OF
MY MUSCLES, I'M SUPPOSED TO GET
RID OF MY HAIR, I'M SUPPOSED TO
GET ON THE TREADMILL AND BE A
SIZE ZERO.
SO FOR ME, I THINK THE
DIFFERENCE NOW BETWEEN WHAT I
MEANT THROUGH IN MY 20S AND
WHAT I'M GOING THROUGH WITH
TRANSNESS IS I REFUSE IN A LOT
OF WAYS TO GIVE INTO THIS
PRESSURE.
SO FOR ME, YOU KNOW, HAVING
HAIRY LEGS, KEEPING MY HAIRY
CHEST, THOSE THINGS FEEL LIKE AN
IMPORTANT PART OF ASSERTING WHO
I AM IN THIS WORLD, EVEN IF IT
DOESN'T MATCH OUR IDEAS OF WOMAN
HOOD OR GIRL HOOD.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Nam says AND THE GIRL HAS KIND
OF LIKE A DOUBLE MEANING, THE
TITLE, "I'M AFRAID OF MEN" ON
ONE SIDE; ON THE OTHER
SIDE, "MEN ARE AFRAID OF ME."
WHY ARE YOU AFRAID OF MEN?

A picture shows the other side of the book, that reads "Men are afraid of me" in inverted colours.

Vivek laughs and says WELL, I MEAN, I
THINK FOR ME THERE'S SOMETHING
REALLY VULNERABLE ABOUT THE
TITLE.
PEOPLE HEAR "I'M AFRAID OF
MEAN," AND IT'S LIKE, AH, YOU
KNOW.
IT'S SORT OF LIKE BEING I'M
AFRAID OF THE BOGEYMAN OR
SOMETHING.
FOR ME HAVING THE BACK OF THE
BOOK SAY "MEN ARE AFRAID OF ME."
FELT REALLY IMPORTANT IN TERMS
OF COMPLETING THE CYCLE.
SO USUALLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN
MY LIFE HAS BEEN THAT MEN HAVE
ENCOUNTERED ME AS SOMEONE WHO IS
DIFFERENT, AND THAT HAS MADE
THEM UNCOMFORTABLE.
AND INSTEAD OF SITTING WITH THAT
DISCOMFORT AND CHALLENGING THAT
DISCOMFORT, THEY TEND TO LASH
OUT AT ME.

Nam says LIKE PHYSICALLY OR
VERBALLY?

Vivek says PHYSICALLY, VERBALLY, THROUGH
A RANGE OF GESTURES, AND SO I'M
AFRAID OF MEN BECAUSE MEN ARE
AFRAID OF ME, ESSENTIALLY.

Nam says AND YOU WRITE ABOUT
FEAR.
IT SEEMS LIKE... NOT TO PUT
WORDS IN YOUR MOUTH...

Vivek says GO AHEAD.

Nam says IT MIGHT BE AN EMOTION
YOU'RE VERY FAMILIAR WITH.
DID WRITING THIS BOOK ERASE THAT FEAR?

Vivek says ABSOLUTELY NOT.
I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS I'VE
BEEN REALLY TRYING TO PUSH
AGAINST WITH THIS BOOK, THERE'S
AN IDEA I THINK WITH ANY PERM
NARRATIVE, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S
PAINFUL, THAT IT'S CATHARTIC AND
IT'S A RELEASE.
AND I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S
BECAUSE, BY THINKING THAT THE
READER THEN FEELS MORE
COMFORTABLE BY ENGAGING WITH THE
CONTENT, LIKE YOU GOT SOMETHING
AND I GOT SOMETHING, AND FOR ME
TO SAY, NO, ACTUALLY IT WASN'T
CATHARTIC, IT WAS ACTUALLY VERY
PAINFUL, AND THAT FEAR, IT'S NOT
ABOUT ERADICATING FEAR.
HOPEFULLY THAT WOULD BE THE
DREAM, BUT I ACTUALLY DON'T
BELIEVE THAT'S POSSIBLE FOR ME.
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT ACKNOWLEDGING
FEAR AND LEARNING TO LIVE WITH
FEAR, UNDERSTANDING THAT FEAR
WILL PROBABLY BE A BIG PART OF
MY LIFE AND HOW TO LIVE WITH IT.

Nam says NOW BECAUSE YOU'VE
DECIDED THIS IS WHO I AM, THIS
IS VIVEK, AND YOU'RE MOVING IN
THE WORLD THE WAY YOU ARE, DON'T
YOU FEEL MORE AFRAID?

Vivek says I DO, ABSOLUTELY, YEAH.
I'M VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE, YOU
KNOW, AN ART CAREER.
SO THAT MEANS THAT LIKE, I CAN
LOOK LIKE THIS RIGHT NOW WITH
YOU OR ON STAGE, BUT IN MY
DAY-TO-DAY LIFE, YOU KNOW, I'M
VERY, VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT HOW I
PRESENT MYSELF AND WHAT SPACES
I'LL WEAR MAKEUP IN, WHAT SPACES
I'LL WEAR A DRESS IN BECAUSE,
YOU KNOW, THE TRUTH IS, TRANS
WOMEN AND TRANS WOMEN OF COLOUR
ARE UNDER ATTACK ON A REGULAR
BASIS.
AND SO FOR ME, I'M ALWAYS
THINKING ABOUT MY SAFETY.

Nam says I'M GLAD YOU MENTIONED
THE INTERSECTIONALITY.
WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?

Vivek says YOUR DIFFERENCES ARE
AMPLIFIED AND YOUR EXPERIENCE OF
OPPRESSION IS AMPLIFIED.
FOR ME IT'S NOT JUST THAT I'M
TRANS, IT'S ALSO ADDING BEING A
PERSON OF COLOUR AND WE LIVE IN
A RACIST, MISOGYNIST WORLD.
SO A TRANS WOMAN OF COLOUR ENDS
UP BEING THE BRUNT OF THAT,
ESSENTIALLY, OR RECEIVING THE
BRUNT OF THAT.

The caption changes to "Culture and identity."

Nam says THIS BOOK HAS RECEIVED
A LOT OF PRESS AND "NOW."
MAGAZINE IN TORONTO, VANITY FAIR
DID A SPREAD.
IT'S BEEN ON MANY LISTS.
IT'S CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED.
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS BOOK HAS
CONNECTED WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT
PEOPLE.

Vivek says YOU KNOW, THAT'S SOMETHING
I'VE BEEN TRYING TO FIGURE OUT,
TO BE HONEST.
AT MY MOST OPTIMISTIC, I'M LIKE,
WOW, THIS IS A WONDERFUL MOMENT
OF PROGRESS AND THAT FINALLY
PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN
NARRATIVES THAT AREN'T WHITE,
THAT AREN'T, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, CIS
GENDER OR STRAIGHT, WE'RE
INTERESTED IN AN INTERSECTIONAL
PERSPECTIVE.
AT MY MOST CYNICAL I'M WORRIED
THAT WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN LARGELY
THE READERS OF THIS BOOK,
THERE'S SOMETHING VALIDATING
ABOUT HAVING SOMEONE WHO USED TO
BE A MAN SAY THE THINGS THAT
WOMEN FEEL AND HAVE FELT ALL
ALONG, SO I WORRY THAT THE
UNDERCURRENT OF WHAT IS MAKING
THIS BOOK SUCCESSFUL IS ACTUALLY
PATRIARCHY.
SO, YEAH.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU THINK MEN
THINK OF IT?

Vivek says I MEAN, I'VE HAD THE OBVIOUS,
LIKE, RESPONSES FROM MEN WHO
LIKE INSTEAD OF HEARING "I'M
AFRAID OF MEN" MEANING "I HATE
MEN."
WHICH IS FRUSTRATING.
BECAUSE HAVING A CONVERSATION
ABOUT FEAR IS SO IMPORTANT, BUT
THIS BOOK IS REALLY ABOUT A
TENSION BETWEEN FEAR AND LOVE,
FEAR AND DESIRE, THAT BOTH OF
THOSE THINGS CAN CO-EXIST AND I
THINK A LOT OF WOMEN CAN RELATE
TO THAT.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME I HAVE HAD
A LOT OF MEN, SURPRISINGLY,
STRAIGHT MEN, WHITE MEN, WHO
HAVE REACHED OUT AND BEEN LIKE,
I HAD THIS ONE PERSON WHO SAID
I'M A LUMBERJACK AND THIS IS NOT
SOMETHING I'D TYPICALLY READ BUT
IT'S REALLY CHANGED MY
PERSPECTIVE AND I WANT ALL THE
MEN IN MY LIFE TO READ IT.
THAT MAKES ME HOPEFUL TOO.

Nam says I READ IT... I'VE BEEN
READING IT ON THE SUBWAY AND
IT'S BEEN VERY INTERESTING
SEEING PEOPLE'S REACTIONS...

Vivek says TELL ME.
HOW HAS THAT BEEN?

Nam says THEY WOULD ASK ME WHAT
THE BOOK WAS ABOUT.
SOMETIMES I FELT I NEEDED TO
SHOW THEM THE BACK.

Vivek says THE BACK SIDE.

Nam says I DON'T KNOW IF THAT
WAS JUST ME, BUT TRYING TO MAKE
SOMEONE ELSE FEEL COMFORTABLE.
I'M SURE THAT'S BEEN A COMMON
REACTION.

Vivek says YEAH.
FOR ME, AS AN ARTIST, IT'S BEEN
REALLY INTERESTING TO THINK
ABOUT THE BOOK AS AN OBJECT IN
AND OF ITSELF OUTSIDE OF THE
CONTENTS.
CERTAINLY IN TERMS OF THINKING
OF THE DESIGN, I THINK THAT WAS
A BIG PART, WAS THINKING ABOUT
HOW THIS BOOK MIGHT BE SOMETHING
THAT WOMEN WANT TO TAKE SELFIES
WITH OR BE IN PUBLIC SPACES
WITH.
AND IT'S BEEN INTERESTING
HEARING WOMEN TALKING ABOUT
TAKING IT TO PUBLIC SPACES AND
AT FIRST READING IT VERY
COVERTLY BECAUSE OF THE TITLE
AND THEN AS THEY GET INTO THE
BOOK AND THEY'RE FEELING MORE
AND MORE DEFIANT, THE BOOK
STARTS RAISING AND THEY'RE LIKE,
YEAH, OWNING IT.
THAT'S WHAT'S SO BEAUTIFUL ABOUT
THE BOOK, IS SEEING THE WAYS
THAT WOMEN ARE OWNING THEIR FEAR
OF MEN.
BECAUSE I THINK THE
CONVERSATIONS AROUND MASCULINITY
AND VIOLENCE, SO MUCH OF THEM
ARE AROUND VIOLENCE AS OPPOSED
TO THIS FEELING OF FEAR.

Nam says THAT SOMETIMES YOU
MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY
ARTICULATE SOMETHING...

Vivek says EXACTLY, EXACTLY.

Nam says WOULD YOU CONSIDER
THIS A FEMINIST MANIFESTO?

Vivek says WOULD YOU?

Nam says HEY, I'M ASKING THE
QUESTIONS.

[LAUGHTER]

Vivek says I MEAN, I HOPE SO.
I HOPE SO.
I MEAN, IT'S DEFINITELY FROM A
FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE.
I MEAN, "MANIFESTO" FEELS LIKE A
VERY GENEROUS READING OF THE
BOOK, AND I HOPE SO.
I HOPE IT'S A BOOK THAT PEOPLE
TURN TO AND CONNECT TO OVER THE
YEARS.
BUT, YEAH.

Nam says WE ALSO MENTIONED THAT
YOU ARE AN ARTIST.
LET'S TAKE A SHORT CLIP ABOUT AN
ART PROJECT THAT YOU DID
HONOURING YOUR MOTHER.
SHELDON, PLEASE ROLL.

A clip plays.

In the clip, Vivek says MY MOM HAS ALWAYS WANTED TO HAVE TWO SONS.
AFTER SEEING HOW WOMEN AND GIRLS
WERE TREATED WHEN IT CAME TO HER
HAVING CHILDREN, SHE WAS LIKE,
NO, LIKE, I DO NOT WANT GIRLS.
AND SO SHE PRAYED.
THEY ENDED UP BEING LUCKY,
HAVING TWO BOYS.

Clips show Hindi deities and temples. Then a picture shows a woman hugging a toddler.

Vivek continues MY HAIR STARTED GROWING VERY LONG.
SO FOR THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF MY
LIFE, I WAS CONFUSED FOR A GIRL.

(music plays)

Pairs of pictures flash by in which Vivek recreates family pictures of her mother when young.

Vivek says I REMEMBER AS A CHILD, LIKE,
WATCHING MY MOM GETTING DRESSED
UP AND PUTTING ON MAKEUP AND
JUST LIKE BEING SO FASCINATED.
THE TRICIA PROJECT, A SERIES OF
PHOTOS WITH MY MOM THAT I
RECAPTURED AS A SUBJECT.
THE PROJECT IS TO HONOUR MY MOM,
OF COURSE, BUT ALSO TO HONOUR
THE DAUGHTER SHE WASN'T ALLOWED TO WANT.

In a picture, the woman smiles as she poses with two tall men. One is Vivek when young, and dressed as a man.

The clip ends.

Nam says THAT IS SUCH A SAD STATEMENT.

Vivek says YEAH.

Nam says WHY DO YOU RETURN TO
YOUR MOTHER SO OFTEN IN YOUR ART?

Vivek says ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ME CRY?

[LAUGHTER]

Vivek says NO.
TRUTHFULLY, MY MOM HAS BEEN A,
FIRST AND FOREMOST, ONE OF THE
FEW PEOPLE IN MY LIFE IN
EDMONTON WHO DIDN'T CHASTIZE ME
FOR MY FACE.
SHE NEVER TRASHED MY JORDAN
JACKET.
WHEN I SHOWED INTEREST IN MY
MOM'S MAKEUP OR EARRINGS, I
NEVER HEARD "THAT'S FOR WOMEN."
FOR ME SHE IS SOMEONE I
AM IMMENSELY GRATEFUL FOR,
GRATEFUL TOO.
PEOPLE SAY HOW DID YOU SURVIVE
IN HIGH SCHOOL?
I SAID, AND IT'S CHEESY, MY
MOTHER'S LOVE.
SHE NEVER CONDEMNED WHO I WAS
KEPT ME ALIVE.
SECONDLY, HER GENDER.
I THOUGHT MY MOM... LOOK AT HER
PHOTOS OF HER, RIGHT?
SHE WAS JUST THE MOST BEAUTIFUL,
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.
I TALK ABOUT THIS IN "I'M AFRAID
OF MEN" AS WELL.
SHE REPRESENTED THIS BOLLYWOOD
GLAMOUR THAT I ONLY SAW IN THE
FILMS.
AND THERE IS MY MOM WHO LOOKS
LIKE ANY OF THESE ACTRESSES.
I THINK IN MY ART I'M OFTEN
TURNING TO HER AS A SYMBOL OF
THE FEMININE AND THE SYMBOL OF
THE GODDESS, AND ALSO AS A FORM
OF GRATITUDE.

Nam says WHAT ABOUT YOUR DAD?

Vivek says YOU KNOW, MY DAD HAS BEEN
SUCH AN INTERESTING FIGURE IN MY LIFE.
THE TRUTH IS, BEING AN IMMIGRANT
IN CANADA, HE FELT LIKE HIS ROLE
WAS TO BRING HOME THE BUTTER,
AND THAT'S WHAT HE DID.
HE WORKED VERY, VERY HARD.
YOU KNOW, HE WORKED THREE JOBS.
BUT THAT MEANT WE DIDN'T HAVE
MUCH OF A RELATIONSHIP AT ALL,
SO HE WASN'T AROUND.
BUT WHAT'S BEEN EXCITING IS
WATCHING HIM REALLY, DURING HIS
RETIREMENT, REALLY GROWING AND
MAKING STRIDES IN OUR
RELATIONSHIP NOW.
MY DAD HAS BECOME A SYMBOL OF
GROWTH FOR ME BECAUSE I THINK IT
WAS A RELATIONSHIP THAT I KIND
OF WROTE OFF.
I WAS LIKE, HMM, THAT'S NEVER
GOING TO HAPPEN.
AND NOW IN HIS 60S, HE'S JUST
BEEN SO, SO SUPPORTIVE OF WHO I AM.

Nam says IN THE BOOK TOO, YOU
WRITE ABOUT, WHEN YOU WERE
LIVING AS A BOY, THAT YOU
PERFORMED MASCULINITY.
IN WHAT WAYS DID YOU PERFORM IT?

The caption changes to "Challenging masculinity."

Vivek says WELL, I THINK THE FIRST PART
OF PERFORMING MASCULINITY WAS
LEARNING HOW TO TAKE UP SPACE.
SO, YOU KNOW, I TALK ABOUT HOW I
MEET LIKE A STRAIGHT MAN WHO IS
NICE TO ME, WHICH WAS SHOCKING,
AND THEN HE SORT OF BECOMES LIKE
MY MAN COACH.
YOU KNOW, I REMEMBER BEING ON
WHYTE AVE. IN EDMONTON AND HIM
STANDING ON ONE SIDE OF THE
STREET AND BEING, OKAY, TAKE UP
MORE SPACE.
WALK WITH YOUR LEG FACING OUT.
HE WAS LIKE GAY MEN WALK LIKE
THERE'S SOMETHING UP THEIR BUM.
WALK LIKE THIS.
FOR ME, I REMEMBER THAT, LIKE,
IT WAS ABOUT REALLY ASSERTING
SPACE.
AND THEN, LIKE I SAID, MOVING
AWAY FROM COLOUR.
AND THEN A BIG PART OF IT WAS
ALSO JUST LIKE BEING AT THE GYM
A LOT.
DOWNING MY CHICKEN BREAST AND
PROTEIN SHAKES AND TRYING TO
GAIN AS MUCH MUSCLE AS POSSIBLE.

Nam says SOMETHING YOU WRITE
ABOUT THAT I HAVEN'T HEARD ABOUT
VERY MUCH IS THE MYTH OF A GOOD GUY.
WHY DO YOU ADDRESS IT?

Vivek says WELL, BECAUSE I THINK IN OUR
CULTURE, WE HAVE SUCH AN
ATTACHMENT TO THE GOOD MAN OR
THE GOOD GUY, AND THE BEST
EXAMPLE I CAN GIVE IS DURING
THIS WHOLE hashtag METOO REVELATIONS,
THE FIRST RESPONSE IS
OFTEN, "NOT HIM TOO.
I THOUGHT HE WAS ONE OF THE GOOD
ONES.
I THOUGHT HE WAS A GOOD MAN."
AND I'VE HAD THAT EXPERIENCE AS
WELL WHERE ANY OF THE MEN WHO I
TALK ABOUT IN THE BOOK, WHEN I
HAVE A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE WITH
THEM, MY FIRST THOUGHT IS, "I
THOUGHT THEY WERE AN EXCEPTION."
SO THINKING MORE ABOUT WHAT DOES
IT MEAN TO BE A GOOD MAN AND HOW
TOO WHEN I WAS MALE STROVE...
STRIVED?... TO BE A GOOD MAN.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANT
AND IT'S BECAUSE GOOD DOESN'T
ACTUALLY MEAN ANYTHING.
IT'S A NEBULOUS STANDARD.

Nam says YOU NEED IT TO BE MORE
SPECIFIC?

Vivek says YEAH.
AND ALSO MEN ARE CALLED GOOD FOR
DOING VERY LITTLE.
I TALK ABOUT HOW I'D BE IN THE
KITCHEN WASHING DISHES AND
PEOPLE WOULD BE SAYING, YOU'RE
SUCH A GOOD MAN.
AND I'M LIKE, REALLY?
I WASHED SOME DISHES.
ONE OF THE THING I'M ARGUING
ABOUT IN THE BOOK IS NOT THAT
MEN AREN'T GOOD BUT GOOD AND BAD
AS VALUES ARE NOT USEFUL.
THEY'RE MORALISTIC AND
RELIGIOUS.
WE NEED MORE CONCRETE
MEASUREMENTS IN TERMS OF
THINKING ABOUT MASCULINITY.
THE EXAMPLE I GAVE IN THE BOOK
IS ABOUT HOW ABOUT A MAN WHO
COMMUNICATES?

Nam says RIGHT.
YOU ALSO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN.

Vivek says YES.

Nam says THE ROLE THAT WOMEN
PLAYED IN YOUR LIFE IN MAKING
YOU, I GUESS, HAVE THIS FEAR IN
YOUR BODY.
WHY ARE YOU AFRAID OF WOMEN?

Vivek says WELL, I MEAN, FOR ME WITH
THIS BOOK, IT FELT LIKE AN
OPPORTUNITY NOT TO JUST, QUOTE,
UNQUOTE, MAN BASH.
I THINK THAT'S THE ASSUMPTION
WITH THE TITLE AND THAT'S WHAT A
LOT OF MEN THINK.
I THINK THE TRUTH IS WE'RE ALL
COMPLICIT IN THIS CONVERSATION
AROUND MASCULINITY, AND I THINK
A LOT OF PEOPLE, IT'S EASY TO
BLAME THE OPPRESSOR.
BUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH WOMEN,
ESPECIALLY AFTER COMING OUT AS
TRANS, IS WOMEN CAN BE CRUEL TO
ME.
WOMEN DEAL WITH THE MISOGYNY
THEY FACE.
WE END UP TAKING IT OUT ON EACH
OTHER.
AND TRANS WOMEN, PARTICULARLY
BECAUSE WE'RE STILL SEEN AS MEN
WHO ARE TRYING TO TAKE UP
WOMEN'S SPACE, WE GET A LOT OF
IT AS WELL.
SO, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT FOR
ME ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'M
TRYING TO ARGUE IN THE BOOK IS
THAT, LIKE, I THINK THAT THE
NUMBER ONE THING WOMEN CAN DO TO
FIGHT MISOGYNY AND PATRIARCHY IS
FINDING WAYS TO BE KIND TO EACH
OTHER AND PUSH AGAINST THAT SORT
OF TRAINING TO BE CRUEL AND
COMPETITIVE, BECAUSE I DO THINK
THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S
INSTILLED IN US.

Nam says I ONLY HAVE A FEW
MINUTES LEFT.
I WANT TO READ SOMETHING QUICKLY
FROM THE BOOK ABOUT INTERNAL
BIASES. YOU WRITE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Internal biases." The quote reads "I have always been disturbed by this transition, by the reality that often the only way to capture someone's attention and to encourage them to recognize their own internal biases (and to work to alter them) is to confront them with sensational stories of suffering. Why is my humanity only seen or cared about when I share the ways in which I have been victimized and violated?"
Quoted from Vivek Shraya, "I'm afraid of men." 2018.

Nam says HOW CAN PEOPLE BE MORE
ACCEPTING OF OTHER STORIES
WITHOUT HAVING TO LIVE THROUGH
THAT SAME EXPERIENCE?

The caption changes to "The way forward."

Vivek says I MEAN, I THINK THE BIG
THING... THIS IS GOING TO SOUND
SO BASIC, NAM... BUT I THINK
IT'S JUST LISTENING, RIGHT?
I THINK MOST PEOPLE NEED TO SEE
SOME SORT OF GRAPHIC VIDEO, THE
POLICE BEATING A BLACK MAN TO BE
LIKE, OH, RIGHT.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
WE SHOULDN'T NEED THAT.
WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO LISTEN TO
EACH OTHER.
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS I EXPERIENCE
RACISM, I EXPERIENCE MISOGYNY,
WHY AREN'T WE JUST LISTENING AND
TAKING THEIR WORD FOR IT.

Nam says AND THE U.S.
GOVERNMENT IS LOOKING AT
DEFINING GENDER BY BIOLOGY ALONE.
IN OTHER WORDS, TAKING A BIG
STEP BACKWARDS.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?

Vivek says I MEAN, IT'S HARD BECAUSE ON
ONE HAND IT'S REALLY... IT'S
SUCH A TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE
FEELING, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND,
IT DOESN'T SURPRISE ME BECAUSE
MY DAY-TO-DAY EXPERIENCE OF
TRANSNESS IS ONE IN WHICH MOST
PEOPLE DON'T SEE TRANS AS A
LEGITIMATE GENDER ANYWAYS.
SO I THINK ALL I CAN DO IS KEEP
LIVING MY TRUTH AND KEEP
SUPPORTING MY COMMUNITIES AND,
YOU KNOW, TRY TO MOBILIZE OTHER
PEOPLE TO SUPPORT TRANS PEOPLE
AS WELL.

Nam says AND IF SOMEONE IS
WATCHING AND MAYBE THEIR CHILD
IS GOING THROUGH THE SAME
EXPERIENCE YOU WENT THROUGH,
WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU
GIVE THEM?

Vivek says I MEAN, I THINK THE NUMBER
ONE THING PARENTS CAN DO, AGAIN,
IS TO LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD.
WHAT I HEAR IS WHAT IF THEY'RE
CONFUSED?
WHAT IF THEY DON'T KNOW?
OFTEN TRANS PEOPLE ARE ROBBED OF
AMBIGUITY AND CONFUSION.
CONFUSION IS NOT A BAD THING.
(B) CONFUSION IS USED AS A WAY
TO NEGATE THE SORT OF AGENCY OF
THE CHILD.
FOR ME, GOING BACK TO ME TEENAGE
YEARS, I KNEW WHO I WAS, BUT
EVERYBODY AROUND ME WAS TELLING
ME I WASN'T WHO I WAS.

Nam says I THINK ONE OF THE
QUESTIONS ASKED A LOT IS, WHAT
IF THEY CHANGE THEIR MINDS?

Vivek says RIGHT.
AND WHAT IF THEY DO?
THAT'S OKAY.
WHAT IF THEY CHANGE THEIR MIND
AGAIN IS A WAY TO ROB THEM OF
AGENCY, RIGHT?
I THINK IT'S REALLY TRUSTING
THAT A CHILD KNOWS WHO THEY ARE
AND GIVE THEM THE ROOM AND SPACE
TO GROW INTO WHO THEY ARE.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU HOPE THIS
BOOK DOES?

Vivek says I HOPE THIS BOOK INSPIRES
MORE CONVERSATIONS LIKE THIS.
I HOPE THAT THE BIGGEST THING
THAT I HOPE IS THAT THE BOOK
ALLOWS US TO THINK BEYOND THE
BINARY, TO MOVE AWAY FROM TERMS
LIKE MASCULINE AND FEMININE.
ANY TIME YOU SEE A BOY WEARING,
YOU KNOW, LIPSTICK OR A GIRL
HAVING SHORT HAIR, I WOULD LOVE
TO SEE US MOVING AWAY FROM
THAT'S TOO MASCULINE OR FEMININE
OR THAT'S TOO MANLY OR TOO GIRLY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta; Producer: Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine."

Nam says VIVEK, IT'S BEEN A
PLEASURE. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

Vivek says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Watch: Widening the Lens on Gender