Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted by Jessica Robertson
Tell me when you became aware of your sexual and gender identity.
God, four? [laughs]. I was just like, "Why don't I have a penis?" I knew exactly who I was at that age, which sucked -- not having words for it and being told I was something else.
How did you understand the difference and then come into it? Being transgendered is a difficult concept to grasp, let alone articulate.
Well, it was a very confusing and difficult time. I won't tell you that it was easy, because it wasn't. How did I come into it? I didn't. I suppressed it and I tried to make it go away. I spent years telling myself that I had mental problems and that I needed to get help. I didn't talk to anyone about it. I lived in a suburb of Toronto which was very conservative, and I didn't know one queer person. A lot of transgendered people go through the same thing. I think the education wasn't there for me when I was young, either. The first time I heard about transgendered people -- or even the word "transgendered" -- was on 'Geraldo Rivera.' I remember seeing this guy with a beard, and they were like, "This man was born a woman!" I was like, "Holy shit! That's me."
How old were you?
Fourteen or 15. Then I heard about [murdered transsexual] Brandon Teena. I remember seeing his girlfriend and his girlfriend's mom on a show, talking about the way he was killed. I was completely and utterly horrified. Upon hearing that -- because that was the only education that I had at that point -- [transgendered] became all about the freaks and how they deserved to die. I decided it was not a road I could take. I could get hurt and I could die. So I just decided to come out and live as a lesbian.
And how were your relationships with women while you identified as a lesbian?
It's funny, because I always ended up dating straight women who were like, "I don't know why I'm attracted to you, because I'm not gay!" I was like, "OK, well, I don't know why I'm attracted to you, because I'm not a lesbian." I was confused. I could never identify with lesbians. I could connect with them as people -- I just couldn't connect with myself being one.
Who was the first person that you told you were transgendered to?
My friend Renee. I had started going to therapy and I made a connection [that I was transgendered] through a dream. I was horrified. I told her because she was a really close friend at the time, and she had had a boyfriend who had transitioned into her girlfriend.
And did you initially enter therapy as a means to understand your identity?
No, I went because I was going through a really hard time in my life. I had just gotten out of a six-and-a-half-year relationship and was having issues with trusting myself. I don't know if I did it subconsciously, but I went and started talking. It just happened to come out. I mean, that's what therapy is about -- trying to figure out who you are. It worked! Look at that.
How was your family during all of this?
My family was really, really cool. They have had to go through a lot of weird shit with me. First off, I'm a musician. Having a kid who is a rock 'n' roller is a problem in and of itself [laughs]! My mom and dad are phenomenal, seeing as how I have had to come out to them twice.
Walk me through each coming out with your parents, first as a lesbian and then as transgendered.
[I came out as a lesbian] when I was 17. I had been into girls my entire teenage life -- ever since I became sexually aware. I eventually wrote my parents a letter, gave it to my brother and said, "Give this to Mom and Dad!" I didn't know how to walk up to them and be like, "I'm gay!" That's a tough thing to do as a kid. My parents came up to me, gave me a hug and said, "We love you." My mom was also like, "You think we didn't know that? I worry more about your brother's spending habits than that! I don't care." It was amazing. The only question my father had for me -- which I thought was so funny -- was, "But I thought you liked George Michael?" [laughs]. I was like, "Yeah, Dad, but I like Madonna, too!"
The second time around was about two years ago. I had some trans friends that my parents had met, and I told my mom, "You know my friend so-and-so? I think I'm like that." She was like, "You know, I kind of thought that!" I was like, "What do you mean? You know everything!"
She seems pretty progressive.
I know! It was so funny because she's an old-school Portuguese woman. She said, "You think I don't know that? I watch TV! I read books! I know magazines!" It's been difficult, though, because my parents are old-school. So, calling me by my new name is a little hard and they call me "she" still. But they try, and it's all I can ask for right now.
Did you find it hard at first to use different pronouns or adjusting to your new name?
I'm one of those people that as soon as I know what I want, I go for it and make it happen. I have gotten past the difficulty of transitioning. I've done top surgery, and that's as far as I'm going. The only difficulty I have is my voice. Visibility can [also] be an issue. I get treated like a female -- especially by the pronouns. But when you choose a path like I have, you learn to accept it.
Is dating difficult for you?
No, man. I have been talking a lot of trans guys and found this really cool new community that exists in Toronto. I have come across the knowledge that there are women out there who are attracted to trans men. Whether you want to call them tranny chasers or whatever, I'm all for them because it means people like me can get some lovin'!
Tell me how you feel in your body today.
I think everyone has issues with their body -- whether they're trans or not. There's a few things I'd like to do -- maybe some situps and get rid of my belly [laughs]. Generally, though, I've been feeling pretty happy when I wake up in the morning. Especially getting top surgery -- that was key for me. Going through that and coming out the other side ... I just feel happy. I don't have to think about it anymore. As long as I get a cup of coffee, I'm good to go.