Kalifornia Kim has always faced a whole different set of challenges since childhood, being at war with herself and her gender identity. Today, she shines as the saxist for Randle and the Late Night Scandals, an in-demand band out of Buffalo, New York, who's been big on the scene and, winning several awards. Kim is a transgender who is bringing awareness and acceptance to new levels, fast, with the growing band popularity. Please check out the band and give them a Facebook Like here. Kim graciously gave me this exclusive interview; and it sure taught me a lot. I hope it will shed some light on your thoughts and opinions of an individual going through these battles and challenges, and appreciate Kim's courageous choice to share her story here.
Hi Kim. With the growing popularity of your band Randle and the Late Night Scandals, you have become one of the focal points aside of the prettied-up Randle. The most common question that I have heard is if you are a man who cross-dresses. What is your sexual orientation? This question does come up quite a bit. If you were to put me in the box, I am a male to female transsexual and living my life full time as a woman. My sexual orientation is bi-sexual but tend to have better relationships with women.
OK so now this gets confusing the further we go down this rabbit hole. After working in a corporate setting for the last 12 years, I have had a hard time explaining this to my co-workers,
A very common assumption people make is that gender identity and sexual orientation are in the same box.
WAH? I know right? Ok lets try it this way
I try to explain it more like a NYC Chinese restaurant menu.
Column A, we have your born gender.
Column B you your gender Identity,
Column C you have sexual orientation.
Seems to make more sense if you have the menu in front of you. So for example: You can have a genetically born male, whose gender identity is male and is sexually attracted to women.
Where I am genetically born male, who identifies as a woman and is sexually attracted to both men and woman.
I think of Pete Townshend when he announced he is a woman trapped inside a man’s body. Is that something you identify with?
Oh yes.. I remember this quote. This quote came from Pete during the part of his career when they recorded Empty Glass. “You know what part of the body an "empty glass" is a metaphor for?” And the lyrics to "And I Moved" and "Rough Boys" can be seen in a whole new light now :) . Why do you think in "I Am An Animal" he deems himself to be" queen of the fucking universe?
In his auto biography he also admitted to homosexual affairs . So I am not sure the cliché in his context matches the same as myself or other Transgenders.
The term Trapped in a Man's body was being used to describe his sexual orientation, not his gender identity. Again this is my opinion, I mean one’s identity isn’t always attached to what lies between one’s legs but more often what lies between one’s Ears… Oh Yes. You had a question though (Smiles) .
I can say I do use that quote myself. I have for most my post puberty years of my life to present felt I was in the wrong body. Knowing I felt more female then male, without being to graphic, lets say I was never comfortable in my own skin until I started my transition.
Did you grow up as a male who didn’t feel comfortable as a male, did you identify more with female tendencies, and how much of that stuff is in child rearing as opposed to instinct in your opinion?
Definitely did not feel comfortable as a child . After all these years have passed I still get revelations that are in turn my affirmation I was not brought into this world male .
Since the recent press and buzz of Randle and the Late Night Scandals the most asked question I receive is “How long have you been playing sax. I always have to do the math in my head, then give up then just spout out “Since I was Nine Years Old.” Then I remember why I took up the sax.
In Grade school, if we took band class we did not have to take Physical education. I have always hated Playing sports thus the Music thing gave me a free pass to get away from the awkwardness. Ok I sidetracked here, but let me explain.
The revaluation is that even at that age I was showing signs of Gender Dysphoria. I remember taking a copy of my school picture one day after school and stabbing it with a dart and crying “ I HATE MYSELF, I HATE MYSELF.”
Another memory that I have is out shopping one day with my mother. The clerk greeted us, how can I help you ladies today. My mother laughed so hard that she almost peed herself.
So most of my elementary school years I found myself to be a shut in and did not have too many friends. By the time I hit middle school, I found my closest friends were other girls. On the other side of the pendulum, to compensate for my unbalanced feelings I got into extreme male bonding also. Heavy drinking, and teenage shenanigans.
One weekend when I was 14, my friend and I took a greyhound bus 40 miles toward the coast to his older sisters house. We “borrowed” her car and camped on the coast for the weekend.
This was a weekend of firsts. My first time dressing in public as a girl, and first time being “intimate” as a girl. Sadlly though my first “friend” later committed suicide just before his 16th Birthday. It was this moment that I knew I was different. And felt if I was to live in society, I had to squelch “Kim”.
To answer the question about child rearing as opposed to instinct in my opinion? All Instinct, and survival. I did not have any support from my parents or family. Now if I had talked to my mother about this back then, would I have gotten the resources I needed. Probably not. Growing up in a redneck timber town, I probably would have been chained to the back of a pickup truck dragged through the forest.
Are there stages of surgeries or procedures to do a gender conversion or how does that work? - and where are you in the process?
My opinion is there are more stages of growth mentally before the holy grail of Sexual Reassignment Surgery. (SRS). Health care providers use as a guide the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care for Transgender. Basically here are the steps.
A .Diagnostic assessment ,
B Psychotherapy ,
C.Real life experience,
D Hormonal therapy , and
There are slight variations on the order and steps taken. Some individuals may choose not to have the final surgery.
Again I state, there is more weight to what is in the mind over what is between ones legs. So to answer where is Kalifornia Kim on her journey? Very much Female.
The obstacles you have had to overcome have had to have been horrific and emotionally draining. Please share some of your experiences in your journey, how you felt, and how you got past it.
Wow. Where would I start. My family. When I came out to my mother, I was told she still loved me but wanted me to keep it from my father. Was not until he passed away in 2008 was I able to reunite with my blood relatives. I don't regret that having a loved one die be how an obstacle was removed, but was in a way a weight lifted.
But not entirely. A proverb of coming out is to be mentally prepared to lose all friendships, Family, employment. And any you still have after is blessings. So, I guess I should put a little back story here.
Twenty-one years ago I was very much in love with a woman. And our brief union, we created a beautiful daughter. Her true paternal relationship was not disclosed to her. In 2007 my daughter figured it all out and was able to find me here in Buffalo. Now back to my proverb. Be prepared to lose everybody..
After 15 years of not a day going by I did not think of my daughter, I was not prepared to risk losing her. So wrongfully I did not disclose to her that I had changed my gender identity. When I flew back to the northwest I would visit her in “butch” mode I like to call it.. Ha ha I know right? Like reverse cross-dressing. I would strap down my chest, etc.
When she came to visit me in Buffalo, my closest friends help me purge my apartment of any thing fem and relearned to call my by my born male name. Keeping this secret was too easy when you live 2800 miles apart. Well, mistake I made was keeping this charade up.
In 2012 after I joined the band, and social networking, she was able to see the band page and press we were getting. On Christmas Eve this year, we were talking on the phone.
"Dad," she asked, "this Kalifornia Kim thing. Is this a gimmick or is it really you?" I had to answer truthfully. "It is really me." She asked why I never told her. I answered, "I lost you for 15 years and did not want to lose you again." "Dad, I named my son after you for God's sake. I love you and you would not have lost me then and you are not going to lose me now."
The Happy ending here is that now I am back connected to her mother, and my two grandchildren and they all cant wait for me to meet them as Kim.
Fear is a factor when you are transgender.
Another key event in my life that melded me back into music was the Murder of my close friend Loni Kai back in August of 2001. She was walking home from the clubs in Portland Oregon and was stopped about 4 am by the police. They checked her ID and as the report goes. At 8 am they found her body smashed in with a blunt object in a field
The thing that really pissed me off is that it took for ever to get this listed as a hate crime. Also the local paper had to report it as a man in women's clothing. This really created a fear in me even though I was on the other coast, what if this was to happen to me. How I got through it was I started writing music to get my message out. In 2002, I created a band called Invisible Children, and premiered "The Eye that Beholds You" at a Pride event. “No More Parades today, Tonight we March. The Eye that beholds you made up its mind, long before the story broke”
Of course in my life there are legal obstacles that are out of our control, but the key I have learned to get past most roadblocks is to keep true to myself, love humanity, and keep moving forward.
You’re not from Buffalo. Do you see a difference in your acceptance between towns?
Since I have only lived in Buffalo for 12 years of my life and did not start my full time experience as a trans woman until I moved to Buffalo. I am not sure I am comparing apples to apples here but will do my best.
In Portland, Oregon, there was a larger Transgender community and better resources. This was the dawn of a revolution with even a few of the health care professionals identifying as transgender. So I am sure my transition would have been smoother if I had done so in Portland.
In Buffalo there is a large population of Transgender but not as close knitted community. Now for acceptance. There is a lot of conservative backwash that will get on your face here in Buffalo. But times are changing. I think the key is what I call filters. I may be blinded by on lookers and probably the snickers and whispers have become “white noise” to me, but I have come to accept myself for who I am. I love to smile to strangers on the street and say hello. I try to do this as often. If we all did this, I believe this will make the world a better place indeed.
Do you want to live happily ever after in marriage, are you dating.. ?
EEEK Marriage? Happy wife, happy life? Live Happily every after is the prize here. Love thyself though first. Then if you do connect with someone and can share that love with an individual, by all means. But also, I will never just settle for anyone. In fact I don't settle on anything that is “good enough for now”. Hell it took over 15 years for me to decide on the right tattoo. So for now lets talk about dating. Currently not dating anyone at the moment but I am no longer a shut in. I meet lots of new people every day. If it feels right, of coarse I would consider dating. But finding someone patient enough to accept the fact that my union with Randle and the Late Night Scandals is my true passion. We are driven, and are working our asses off to achieve our dreams. So if you think you can handle that, ask me out for coffee.
I really feel that you are breaking thru a stereotype of ignorance by not only being public with your true identity but to tell other transgenders to accept their self as they were meant to be, to love their self and to be proud. What is the message you want to be associated with Kalifornia Kim?
Life is as diverse as a fruit salad, not a marmalade. Never Judge. And don't be afraid to be an outlaw.
Much love and thank you for sharing some really touchy stuff here with me today!
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