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Mey Rude

MEY: I identify as a Latina, Mexican-American, trans woman. Binary trans woman. Bisexual. I
also like to use like labels just like, gay for myself. I’ve been using queer less. But only, but like,
not a problem with the overall word, just like there’s some white people in my life who very
strongly identify as queer who have been kind of ruining it for me—

NIA: *Laughs* Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

MEY: So I haven’t been using queer as much lately. Yeah.

NIA: Damn, I feel like I sort of get that. Like, it’s not exactly my experience but when I first
moved to the Bay—

MEY: Oh yeah.

NIA: I wasn’t really familiar with like kink or BDSM culture very much and the first people that
I met into that were like, really into it and really obnoxious.

MEY: Mmmm.

NIA: And I was like, Oh, maybe this isn’t for me because… y’all suck. *laughs*

MEY: Yeahhh. Yeah no, it’s…for me it’s like people who… there’s like this new generation of
people who like think that because we have all these like new terms now we’re better than
previous generations of LGBT people, y’know? Well, and it comes from the same thing where
like… “Oh like, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera called themselves drag queens, therefore
they weren’t really trans or anything,” y’know? And it’s like, I hear similar things about queer
stuff where it’s like “Oh, well like, older generations don’t call themselves queer but that’s just
cause they didn’t know.”

NIA: Huh.

MEY: And it’s like “Dude, like, I don’t want to be a part of that.”

INTRO

NIA: Yeah, I feel like you’ve already touched on something really important which is like, I
think that part of what makes it hard to have intergenerational queer and trans dialogues is that
we’re like not using the same language. *laughs*
MEY: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. When people start shaming other generations for using the quote
unquote wrong language then it becomes a huge mess, y’know, and I don’t want to like be…
like, I mean, I want to respect the elders who brought us here and respect the language that they
used, y’know, I don’t want to be a part of this group who’s insulting older people because they
used different words or they weren’t as like, educated, you know?

NIA: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s really complicated because it’s not just the words, it’s also the
ideas. *laughs*

MEY: Yeah. Yeah, that’s true too.

NIA: I don’t know. I think about this a lot because of like, as I’m working on my books I’m
thinking about how they’re going to be dated by the time they’re published, y’know? *laughing*

MEY: Mmm. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

NIA: And thinking about queer history I’ve read that seems like so… regressive?

MEY: Mmm hmm.

NIA: And about how anything… any contribution to queer history that I try to make will
eventually be seen as regressive also, probably sooner than I would like. *laughs*

MEY: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s just like people… well but, and that also leads to people trying to
make like queer history and queer discourse like, like, unaccessable.

NIA: Hmm.

MEY: You know, like if you don’t have a degree in gender studies and you aren’t hip to all the
new lingo then people will like shame you out of these spaces.

NIA: So, do you identify as an artist?

MEY: Uh. I mean, well so, okay. I haven’t, like I mean, this is a big imposter syndrome thing for
me because like, I am a writer. I identify very strongly as a writer, but then, well and so like I
write those like journalism pieces and personal essays and just like, I guess kind of like fluff
pieces, I don’t know. But when I moved here to LA, I especially started making a lot of friends
with people who both write fiction and write stories and then also like illustrate and do like, art
art, y’know?
NIA: Visual art?

MEY: Yeah, visual art. Yeah, sorry.

NIA: It’s okay!


MEY: It’s--but that’s part of the imposter syndrome thing. “Oh, I’m just this comics journalist
hanging out with all these comics writers and comics illustrators”, and so I like have this big
thing where I have been like struggling to feel that I can identify as an artist like them, y’know,
cause they’re like, they get to… like I’m writing about them for a living, y’know. I’m writing
about the art that they do for a living. And so…

NIA: But I mean, that’s what arts and culture journalists do, right?

MEY: Yeah! Yeah, like it’s one hundred percent imposter syndrome thing, it’s one hundred
percent like, just me thinking like “Oh, I’m not good enough and all my friends are so much
more creative than me and this isn’t real art” and even like, sometimes, y’know, I’ll be like “Oh,
my personal essays aren’t real art, but then like when I’m in like a good mental health space I’m
like “Oh, I know that this is art and I know that I’m producing original new ideas and in new
ways and it’s really cool.” But y’know, but it’s well it’s been one of the things that like, I mean
like right now I’m on this like, journey to a new phase of my career and that’s been a big part of
it is that I’m trying to like figure out who I want to be as a writer, y‘know?

NIA: Your writing is not exclusively about comics though.

MEY: Yeah, it’s not. It’s just… When I would hang out with a bunch of comics people, y’know,
I’d be the only person at the party who like, who doesn’t have…

NIA: Can’t draw?

MEY: Yeah, who number one, can’t draw, and number two doesn’t have a published book,
y’know?

NIA: Well, fuck that! *laughing* I mean like, I don’t know, I totally understand what you’re
saying about imposter syndrome and also like—

MEY: Yeah.

NIA: --lots of artists don’t have published books.


MEY: Then also yeah, and like, no I’m a real artist like one hundred percent I write with my
heart and I write creatively and—

NIA: You’re a really good writer.

MEY: Thank you! Thank you. But yeah, it’s just my friends are all so super talented and super
creative and amazing, y’know, and so like when I hang out with them I’m like “whoa.”

NIA: Awww.

MEY: Whoa.

NIA: *Laughs* How did you get started writing? Was it like something that you… did you study
writing in school?

MEY: Yeah! Well, so I… when I went into college I was a political science major planning on
going to law school to be like a… like I wanted to work for like the ACLU or something like
that.

NIA: Uh huh.

MEY: But then after a year and a half of that I was like, “Oh man, I hate doing all this research
in like, law libraries and stuff. Like, this is a nightmare. I do not want to do this for the rest of my
life,” and I was like “Oh what I do miss though is writing essays.” So I switched to English and
Literature major so that I could just like, read books and then write essays about them, and I was
like, “this is fun for me, not even work.” So I got that degree and then because I didn’t want to
become a teacher, I worked as a janitor for five years after graduation cause it’s, y’know like, I
had an English degree in Pocatello, Idaho there weren’t very many jobs available. But then, I
saw this like… I was on Tumblr and I followed the website Autostraddle on Tumblr, and like, I
would read their articles all the time, and they were putting together this call where they… it was
for a series called Tran*Scribe. Like Trans*…

NIA: Mhmm.

MEY: And then Scribe, y’know. Trans*Scribe. They were looking for queer identified trans
women writers to write for their site and it was gonna be paid work. Because like, this was, like,
at the time when trans women were like, first breaking into… Not like breaking into—

NIA: *laughs*
MEY: but like, being accepted in parts of lesbian culture like in a more mainstream way,
y’know?

NIA: Mhm.

MEY: So like Autostraddle only had like one trans woman I think writing for them before
Annika and so they were like, “Oh we need to get more trans women’s voices on here if we’re
going to be a website representing all queer women.” It was a great, like, it was a great thing.
They published a lot of great essays from it. And so I submitted one. Like, I hadn’t written
anything since college, so in like four years or whatever y’know. I hadn’t written anything and
then I just wrote about being fat and trans and like the complicated cross section of that, y’know,
where like I’m out here buying a whole new wardrobe and then in most stores the clothes don’t
even fit me.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: And, like the extra dysphoria that came with that that I was like “Oh wow, my body isn’t
even built for women’s clothes at all, y’know. And cause again, because I lived in Pocatello,
Idaho there weren’t a lot of shopping options. So, it was, but so I wrote about that and about how
coming out helped me gain confidence in both myself as a woman and as a fat person.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: And Autostraddle published it. Then like a month later or something they asked me to
write something else. And then I went to A-Camp which is the queer women, non-binary people,
trans men summer camp that Autostraddle hosts. And I was asked to be on staff because like
very… a great move on their part Autostraddle was like “Oh, we should at least have one trans
woman on staff because we’re going to have some trans women campers, y’know. And so they
asked me to be on… and this was just like, six months after I came out. Like—

NIA: Okay.

MEY: right after. Like I came out October 31st, which was a bad idea—

NIA: *Laughs*

MEY: cause like, coming out on Halloween, being like “Oh, I dress like a woman now!” A lot of
people in my life were like “Oh, is this like, a Halloween costume? Is this a joke?” So that was a
bad decision on my part but I was like “Oh it’s two birds with one stone: I’ll have a costume and
I’ll be able to like, present the real me.” But, y’know, not a great idea. It’s… I mean, if you have
friends that like know what’s up then that’s a great idea but then go to your church like three
days later and you’re wearing your dress still and your pastor’s like “Is this a Halloween joke?”
then it’s not so great. But, anyway, but so yeah, so I came out October 31st. Then in, I think,
January my first piece was published and then in like April was camp. Or maybe even March.
But yeah, it was like, right then. Y’know, just a few months after I came out. Like, I wasn’t on
hormones, I wasn’t… I didn’t have like any real-life queer friends cause again, Pocatello, Idaho,
y’know? I guess you don’t know.

NIA: *Laughs*

MEY: Okay. Pocatello, Idaho is a town in south eastern Idaho, close to Utah. It’s about like
50,000-60,000 people but Idaho is one of the reddest states in the country and Pocatello is… a
huge portion of it is LDS [Latter Day Saints] Mormon. And so even though Pocatello is a college
town and so it’s more liberal than most of Idaho, it’s… that still means that like, the city council
is like eight Republicans and four Democrats, y’know, like that’s liberal for Idaho.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: That’s the kind of town I grew up in. Like, it didn’t have a lot of excitement or resources.
There was one gay bar but it was like pretty much just like, but it pretty much is still just like a
gay men’s bar, y’know. There… when I first came out there wasn’t a doctor in town prescribing
hormones for trans people which is like, the main reason I wasn’t on hormones for the first like,
year and a half after I came out, because just there wasn’t anyone in town.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: And like, my whole community in Pocatello was my church family and then when I came
out I got kicked out of that. So, then Autostraddle became my first family after I came out.

NIA: Wow.

MEY: Yeah.

NIA: I know you said it’s a college town but I’m guessing the area around it is like, fairly rural?

MEY: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a college town and a farming town. Like, it’s surrounded by farms, like
people sometimes like ride horses or… The front page story in the paper a few years ago was this
kid rode a cow to high school—

NIA: *laughs*
MEY: and that was like above the fold front page news story. So like that tells you the kind of
town it is, y’know?

NIA: I mean is there anything that you… I know you haven’t been in LA… So, you were born
and raised there. In Pocatello.

MEY: In Pocatello, yeah.

NIA: And then you just moved to LA like six months ago?

MEY: Well, so that’s been a weird journey. So almost, let’s see, almost two years ago I tried
moving here but… and so I was here six months or so, but then I had to move back and then like
I got into a really bad mental place and I had to be hospitalized for like, a suicide attempt. This is
about thirteen months ago now. And then, after that, I moved back here to Los Angeles, so I
could be here with like, with family where I have a support system. And also because like
MediCal is super great and allowed me to like get my like, all my hormones and my psych
medication for free and allowed me to get… was getting free therapy at the LGBT center.
Y’know, which like, in Idaho, I can’t get those things, obviously.

NIA: Were you able to access hormones at all before you left Idaho or no?

MEY: Yeah. Yeah. A few, like I said like a year and a half, I think, about, after I came out, I
found out about this doctor who had recently moved to Pocatello. Dr. Neil Reagan. He’s
amazing. He was like taking all the trans patients in town and helping us out. And like, he was
super great… he hooked me up with a therapist, like a trans-friendly therapist in Pocatello.

NIA: Okay.

MEY: And then she moved and I wasn’t able to find a trans-friendly therapist after that. Like, the
next therapist I went to, in the first session she was like “Just by looking at you I can’t tell that
you’re not a natural woman.” And I was like “Ooof. Okay, this isn’t gonna work out.”

NIA: Yeah.

MEY: This is not going to work out, y’know. So like, there were two people basically in
Pocatello who I knew of at least, and I knew that both of them had… Like Neil Reagan is still
like the trans doctor like, I mean, he’s a cis gay man but he’s like the trans doctor in Pocatello,
and Southeast Idaho. And he’s helping a ton of people now, like it’s amazing. There are like,
teenagers in Pocatello and pre-teens who are out as trans like, in their schools and on hormone
blockers and like, it’s amazing. Like he’s done a revolutionary job in Pocatello.

NIA: That’s awesome. And you said you were like, pretty involved in your church?

MEY: *laughs* Very involved, yeah.

NIA: What denomination?

MEY: Well, so, I grew up Catholic. But then when I was in 6th grade my mom converted to the
American Baptist Church and then I started… at my mom’s church there was like youth group
and like fun stuff like, for kids, y’know. So I started going there. I got really involved there. And
so then by the time I was in college I would still go to Mass every Sunday but then after Mass I
would go to the Baptist church for church service, then I would go teach Sunday school at the
Baptist church, then like, I would go and eat lunch or whatever and then in the early evening I
would have small group at the Baptist church which was like a group of eighteen to twenty-five
year olds and we would meet up and talk about the Bible and life and stuff. And then Mondays I
volunteered at youth group and then Tuesdays I also volunteered at youth group for high school
students and then I also volunteered to like babysit and I was a janitor at this church for a little
while. Like, this was my whole life.

NIA: Okay.

MEY: Yeah. It was bonkers.

NIA: That sounds so intense. Is there anything that you, I don’t know, miss about small town
life?

MEY: Is there?... I just went back to Idaho for like two weeks for a wedding and then to visit my
dad because he lives there. And it was not great.

NIA: Is your mom in LA?

MEY: Yeah, my mom lives there. Well my mom… so my mom lives in LA but she was visiting
my dad in Idaho now. Like, they’re still together but in like a super-complicated situation
involving like my grandfather dying and my grandma, like my seventy year old grandmother
trying to raise her teenage great grand-daughter. And then my mom getting a job here in LA to
help raise this teenage girl and then falling off a ladder and having… being in like, the
workman’s comp thing where she can’t move out of the state.
NIA: Oh man.

MEY: And so it’s just a very complicated, ridiculous thing. But yeah.

NIA: So you were saying you went back and it was…you didn’t miss much.

MEY: Oh yeah. Yeah, no. Like there’s one person still in town who I like. Or like, who like, and
who it goes both ways, y’know? Cause like a lot of people in my group stopped talking to me
and like a lot of them are still in town, y’know?

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: But like there’s only one person there who I’m still friends with. There’s… I guess I like
the affordability

NIA: Mmhmm.

MEY: Like, I’m looking for a new place here in LA and when I was in Pocatello I would see like
“For Rent” signs and like “For rent: three bedroom, two baths with a yard for $875.”

NIA: Holy shit. *laughing*

MEY: Yeah, I was like “Oh my Goooaaargh!”

NIA: I don’t think you could get a studio for that in the Bay.

MEY: No. Yeah it’s… yeah, so I was like this is ridiculous. Like the price difference is. So I
miss that, definitely.

NIA: Your writing career pretty much started at Autostraddle? Or it started in college?

MEY: Yeah. Well yeah, the first time I got paid to write anything was for Autostraddle.

NIA: Okay. I… just like, I was looking at the links you sent me earlier and it said you’ve written
like over 500… Yeah, it said Mey has written 574 articles for us.

MEY: Yeah, yeah. I write a lot. Like, I mean like, I kind of… part of it was like I don’t think…
because I lived in Idaho for the first several years I wrote for Autostraddle and I had never, I had
barely ever met any of-- most of the people in reaI life, just at like A-Camp. So I kind of didn’t…
I was just kind of like off in my own world doing my own thing and I was like “Oh, like I love
writing so I’m gonna put out like two or three articles every week at least.” Y’know, sometimes
like four or five. And then, like, we did like a round up at the end of the day of like who’d
written the most articles and I was like, “Oh, only like two or three other writers at Autostraddle
are doing that.” Like most people write like maximum one a week. And I was like “Oh, I wrote
like 135 articles this year *laughs*

NIA: Wow.

MEY: But I mean, but that’s what I like. And like, I love writing. It’s so fun for me.

NIA: Were you able to support yourself off of writing?

MEY: So, not at first. And I don’t think ever completely. When I was the trans editor at
Autostraddle I was making like a base salary plus whatever I would write. And when I was doing
that I was also working as like a consultant, like that’s the other thing I do: I work as a consultant
on comic books and books and like, young adult novels and stuff that have trans characters. And
so when I was doing that I was able to live off of my Autostraddle paycheck and then doing this
freelance consulting, cause like, people will pay you good money to consult on books like that.

NIA: That’s great. How did you get started with the consulting?

MEY: There was this thing called the Sensitivity Reader’s Databank. Where it was people who
were like, people of color, or LGBTQ, or have disabilities, or immigrants, whatever, y’know.
You could put down like your name and your contact info and your writing and editing
background, and then the identities that you’re willing to consult on. And so this way if like, an
able-bodied writer was like “Oh I’m writing this book about someone in a wheelchair” they
could find like, someone who has a background in editing who also is in a wheelchair, y’know,
and be like “Hey, is my… I want to make sure that like I’m not being insulting or dehumanizing
or anything. Can you read this and help me figure it out?” And so I did that for trans characters
and I’ve done it for a lot of comic books and mostly YA novels and then like, a few general…
adult novels?

NIA: *Laughs*

MEY: I never know what to call them.

NIA: Yeah, yeah. That’s sounds really awesome. Do you enjoy it?

MEY: Oh, I love it. Like, at first it was a pretty rocky road. A few of the first authors were like,
not happy with the notes I gave them. Y’know, they were like—
NIA: *laughs* Then why did they ask you for notes?

MEY: Cause sometimes publishers would make people.

NIA: Ohh. Interesting.

MEY: Yeah. It was…*disappointment gurgles* There’s this one writer who, when I was telling
him that… cause he had a trans woman character and then some gay men characters, and all the
gay men were hitting on this trans woman and I was like “That’s... that’s not really how that
works.”

NIA: *Laughs*

MEY: And he was like, “Well, when this takes place, like bisexuality didn’t exist…”

NIA: *laughing* What?!

MEY: So yeah, it was very confusing. I was like “What?” And he was like “Yeah. No, they just
had the term gay. They didn’t have bisexual so, you need to just not… like, I know better than
you on this.” And I was like “Okay…” but so like, I had a few rough things like that early on, but
now it’s gotten to the point where like people are excited to learn and excited to have good
representation and so it’s like, and I work with super great writers and editors who just like,
desperately want to have good representation, y’know, and that’s like, super exciting to see, like,
it makes me so happy when like, I get a YA novel with a great trans girl character in it. And
written by like a cis, often straight writers, and they’re just like I just want this character to be
like badass and cool and I want to make sure I don’t like mess up anything with her. And it’s just
like, really exciting like for the future of publishing, y’know?

NIA: Yeah. Definitely. And so, are they mostly finding you through this database?

MEY: Well, so, *sighs* there was this big like, whiplash situation where like, some people
would write books and then give it to a sensitivity reader… Like, they would write a book about,
like, that like discussed like racism, y’know? And then they’d give it to… like white people
would, and give it to sensitivity readers of color and they’d be like “Whoa, this is really racist.”
And so there became this like this thing where some authors started trash talking sensitivity
readers like, publicly, and being like—

NIA: Oh like, by name? Like personal…?


MEY: Yeah! Yeah. Like, and it got to this like, ridiculous point where there was this like,
terrible just like… it was a small group. Like a small group of writers were like, just like trashing
sensitivity readers publicly and by name like, in newspapers or like online publications

NIA: Oh my God!

MEY: Yeah, and like book publishing forums. Like, things like that. It was… so like the, I think
the website is no longer being maintained.

NIA: Thats-- But do they realize they’re telling on themselves? *laughs*

MEY: Yeah, no, it was so weird! These people were like “I wrote this super racist book and then
someone told me it was racist, and that’s terrible.”

NIA: Right. “And I’m mad at them and I’m going to call them out.”

MEY: And it’s like, yeah, you are terrible for being mad that you can’t write a super racist book.
But and so the database is… I don’t think is like updating anything anymore. So now I mainly
get my, those jobs a lot of the time through like connections, cause like I built up a lot of
connections in like, publishing and like, the book world, where people know that I do this
service, y’know.

NIA: Well that’s great. It seems like, I know the freelance life is really difficult but it sounds like
you’ve been able to make it work.

MEY: Yeah. I am making it work right now. Yeah. Like in a really cool way like, just like I feel
really good about my career right now in a way that I haven’t since like, I first started writing for
Autostraddle.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: Like I feel like I’m really like… well cause like I’m leaving Autostraddle, like that’s…
this is my last month there. But it’s just not because of like, y’know like I love Riese and I love
Autostraddle. It’s just I need to… I feel like I’m in a place where I need to like, take these next
steps and move on to something new and challenging, y’know? Like I feel like I kind of got, like
found my place at Autostraddle and like, stayed there. And I want to try… I wanna find
something new, y’know?

NIA: Yeah. So, well, how do you feel like your writing has changed in the like, five years you’ve
been at Autostraddle, right?
MEY: Yeah. Yeah, well, number one, my confidence level. When I started I didn’t want to take a
lot of chances because I was like “Oh, what if like, this thing that I’m into or this thing that I
think is good writing is actually terrible.” Y’know, so I would keep it a lot closer to the chest. I
would be more straightforward in my writing, what I wrote about, and I wasn’t as open about my
own personal stuff.

NIA: Okay.

MEY: Largely because I was still living in Pocatello, Idaho.

NIA: Yeah.

MEY: Y’know and I didn’t have like a personal community there in Pocatello, so like I didn’t
feel necessarily safe like, writing more super personal stuff.

NIA: Yeah.

MEY: But so now I feel a lot more open and confident in both my skills as a writer and then just
who I am as a person, y’know? Like, a lot of my early stuff—which I mean is common for trans
writers—a lot of my early stuff was like exploration and like figuring out my identity and all this
stuff, y’know. But now I feel like, I feel like I’m like coming into myself as like a complete
writer. Does that make sense?

NIA: Yeah, I think so, I mean—

MEY: Yeah, like I don’t have to keep on writing these essays like searching for what I want to
talk about. Now I know what I want to talk about and what I want to say.

NIA: What do you want to talk about?

MEY: *laughs* Yeah! Great question. Well, and I was just thinking about this yesterday like, I
just pitched a series of articles to this website about this… like, well so right now, well so like,
like I said I tried to kill myself last year. I was living in Idaho. I was just in a very bad place. And
then over this past year like I’ve been in therapy and I’ve been exercising. Like, not like, going
to the gym, I can just talk walks. To be—sorry, like I’m not—no shaming gym people…
NIA: *laughs*

MEY: I wanted to clear that up. Like, I’m not a gym person, like I’m not going to like lift
weights or like running or anything like that. I just take walks in my neighborhood.
NIA: Yeah, I mean like exercise is exercise.

MEY: Yeah, and but like I’m on medication and everything. And just, I feel like while definitely
it was like the hardest year of my life this was also definitely the best year of my life. And I’ve
finally gotten to a place where like I love my body more than ever, I love my life more than ever.
Like, I’m happier being a trans person than I ever have been before.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: And I just want, like my main goal right now is to make other people, or to help other
people feel that way. I want them to know that like, you can be trans and love your body. You
can be trans and like, find love and have a happy sex life, y’know?

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: You can be trans and go out and do these things that like, as a trans woman like it can,
like I just wrote about a Sephora class that I took on makeup.

NIA: Yes! I read that piece.

MEY: Like, that can be a super scary thing, yeah. And then like, so I want to write about like
things like that where it’s like, as a trans woman you can have this like, happy life and like, you
can do these like quote unquote normal womanhood things, y’know, that seem like so
inaccessible to so many trans women like, “Oh, I’ll never have… like I’m trans but I’ll never be
able to like wear a bikini or like I’ll never be able to have a cis lesbian girlfriend,” y’know,
whatever. Like I also wrote that article about trans lesbian sex
[https://www.autostraddle.com/how-to-have-trans-woman-lesbian-sex-with-a-penis-414839/]
because I wanted to be like “Hey guys, we can have great sex lives with cis women who identify
as lesbians” and that doesn’t make them any less lesbians. And there are cis lesbians who love
trans women’s bodies and specifically love trans women’s genitals, which I don’t think is a
message we hear at all.

NIA: Yeah.

MEY: That there are people who identify as lesbians who will happily have sex with trans
women, y’know? Like there’s so much of this like gross like TERF stuff going on.

NIA: Mmhmm.
MEY: And like, when I wrote that article I got so much hate on Twitter, like people calling me a
rapist—

NIA: Oh my God!

MEY: People calling me a man. Yeah, it’s… that’s a big tactic, is that they’ll be like anytime
you mention sex they’ll be like “Oh, you’re trying to force me to have sex with you.”

NIA: What?

MEY: Yeah, no, it’s weird. A lot of people have called me a rapist online because, well, first it
was when I wrote that biological sex isn’t is a real as people think it is. People started calling me
a rapist for that one, which that was confusing. And then now, like and I’m laughing about it
cause like it’s terrible. It’s terrible.

NIA: Yeah, no, I wish you could see my face right now. *laughing*

MEY: Yeah, no, but it’s so ridiculous, that like, I have to laugh about it. And like, they have no
effect on like my real life, y’know, these people. Two dozen of them will call me a rapist for a
week online and that’s terrible, but then like next the week they’re still bitter and angry and sad
and I’m going to Palm Springs with my girlfriend.

NIA: *laughs*

MEY: So, I’ve just learned to laugh at it now.

NIA: So a couple years ago I feel like no one was really talking about TERFs but now I feel like
they’re everywhere.

MEY: Yeah, it’s— well I think that it’s a mixture of two things, like I feel like there is like, what
we talked about before with language, I feel like there’s just a change in language where there
are a lot of non-TERFS, like, who are women who see trans women as other women but are also
only attracted to people with vaginas.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: Cause like there was a study recently that came out that was like “How many cis people
would sleep with a trans person?” and for women… I mean, it was like dismally low numbers. It
was like for men it was like 3% and for women it like 12% or something said that they would
consider like—
NIA: They’re lying! *laughing*

MEY: It’s like terrible numbers.

NIA: Yeah.

MEY: But then the women side, lesbians when they said, like lesbians who said yes we would
have a relationship with a trans person, 69% said they would only have a relationship with a
trans man.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: Which, you know, is such like a weird juxtaposition where they’re like, “Yeah, I strongly
identify as a lesbian but I would only have sex with a trans man, not with a woman.”

NIA: Right.

MEY: Y’know, like, “not with a trans woman.” And I think like some of it is just like a change
in, we need a new term for people who like, have vaginas and want to have sex with other
vaginas. I mean, it’s like, it’s very crude language now obviously. Like, but like someone of
them I don’t think are like TERFs. I think some of them are just like “Oh” like I think they
would have sex with someone with a vagina, y’know, like they’d be totally down with that. But
then also just there’s… but then TERFs are like recruiting from that group and being like “Oh, if
you’re into vaginas then you have to join our crew because trans women with penises are going
to force themselves on you,” y’know? It’s just, there’s just so much going on in like, queer
discourse right now. That I think that groups like TERFs are able to take people who are
confused by all this discourse, which is another thing with this queer stuff, y’know. There’s all
this discourse and all this like, academic jargon and then, so people are getting confused and
when people are confused then that like fractures up the community, y’know? And I think that
TERFs are just like tricking people by using like Judith Butler and, y’know, all these gender
theorists being like “Oh like, gender isn’t real, therefore trans women aren’t real.” And if you
don’t know anything about gender theory then you can be like “Oh, that makes sense.”

NIA: *laughs*

MEY: Y’know? So I think that it’s, I don’t know, like I’m on this big like, I don’t know how to
say this in like a good way or whatever but like on this big like dummy kick where I’m like “Oh,
it’s good to be kind of a dummy.” I’m having fun with all the stuff I don’t know and learning
new things. Like, I mean I, like I get so confused all the time but I just like simple things. I
learned that like brioche bread was sweet, like a month… a couple of months ago when I tried to
make a grilled cheese sandwich with it.

NIA: *laughs*

MEY: And I was like, this is disgusting. And everyone was like “Yeah, Mey, that’s for like
French toast and stuff. And I was like, “Well… I didn’t know that.” But and then like I didn’t
know that like cloud weighed anything, I thought that they were weightless honestly until I saw
flat earth memes about clouds and then I was like, “Oh, okay.”

NIA: I didn’t know that either. *laughing*

MEY: *laughs* Yeah, no, like you don’t think about things like that. But it’s like basic science.
But then with like, gender stuff, like I think that sometimes we use academic language and these
difficult concepts to sort of keep people out, especially like rural people or southern people or
Midwest people, y’know. People who just don’t have access to this kind of language and this
kind of discourse on a daily basis.

NIA: Yeah, I think you raise a really good point that I hadn’t really thought about which is just
like if people are confused, and I think often feel alienated, by queer language or especially by
academic queer language—

MEY: Yeah

NIA: Language that like, you need a certain amount of class privilege to have access to—

MEY: Exactly, yeah

NIA: then it’s really easy for someone to be like “Hey, are you confused and alienated by this?
Join our club of other people that are pissed off.”

MEY: With like the rise of fascism there’s a lot of groupthink.

NIA: Hm.

MEY: Y’know, and people get wrapped up in these groups, and these like reactionary groups
especially where in a time like this where there’s all this competing information. People aren’t
using their best judgement and they’re just like, when a group invites you, people who are
desperate will like join that group, y’know? And it’s a sad thing going on right now. And people
are taking advantage.
NIA: Yeah.

MEY: I don’t really know what the point is, it’s just like, I don’t know… I am, I’m a fan of like,
and like coming from Idaho like I’m a fan of like people who come from small towns or farming
towns or a red state and like just, there’s a lot of people bashing those people right now,
pretending that there aren’t queer people in Idaho and pretending that there aren’t people of color
in Idaho and like other places like that, y’know, and it’s just getting to me.

NIA: Yeah. Yeah, I think you touched on another thing that’s really important where like, I don’t
know, the sort of like urbanism, I guess, of queer culture.

MEY: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

NIA: And how that perpetuates a sort of like, I guess I want to say like leaving queers behind
who aren’t able or don’t want to move to cities.

MEY: Mmhmm. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. There’s like this almost like this we’re giving up on
them and it’s like “Oh, sorry I can’t [unintelligible] is like join the revolution.”

NIA: Sorry the connection keeps dropping out.

MEY: ...We have no use for you. I said if you’re not gonna move to the city and join the
revolution then it’s like big parts of the community are like “Oh, we have no use for you then.”

NIA: Mm. Okay. I want to refocus on your work. *laughs*

MEY: Yeah, sorry that I…

NIA: No, no, don’t apologize, I’m really enjoying this conversation. How did you first get into
comics? Was that always like a passion of yours?

MEY: Yeah, like, well and especially growing up I would, one thing that I would do is like, our
local library had like a big comics collection, which I love, but then also it gave me an excuse
cause comics, like I mean, this is getting into very like gendered language, but like comics were
boy things, y’know. But so then I could read like Wonder Woman comics or Batgirl and be like
“Oh yeah, this is still a boy thing.” Cause I was like deeply closeted, y’know. And like, very
strongly trying to present this… like I remember when I was in the Boy Scouts I was trying to
prove that I was a guy when I was growing up. And so like I could read comic books and then,
but still read books about women and read books about these awesome women, y’know like,
Wonder Woman, Storm from X-Men, I was like “Dude, these are like awesome characters.” And
I was able to like, talk about them being awesome without people being like “Oh, that’s girly.”

NIA: Mm.

MEY: And so like, I like got really…which is…kids should be able to read whatever they want.

NIA: Right.

MEY: Y’know, this was just my like, internalized stuff, but also like bullying, growing up in
Idaho like, but so like, I got like super into comic books at a child. And not just like your Calvin
& Hobbs, the Far Side, things like that, y’know. And so then, when… after I’d written a few
things for Autostraddle they were looking for staff writers where you had to pitch a column. And
so, I was like, well like, the middle part of this… well so like, after I realized that I was trans and
that I was attracted to other women but before I came out I started reading all these webcomics
about like queer women and trans women—

NIA: Mhmm.

MEY: Because it was like, the only place I could like get media where like trans women weren’t
sex workers being murdered and having no name, y’know.

NIA: Mhmm.

MEY: Like, I could either watch Law & Order SVU or I could read about like trans women
having like a happy life.

NIA: Yeah.

MEY: So obviously, y’know, I read the webcomic. And so then I pitched for Autostraddle “Oh
well, right now I’m reading like twenty different LGBTQ web comics so I could write about
comics cause then I could also write about like Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways or Fun Home,
y’know, things like that.

NIA: Mhm.

MEY: Like graphic novels and superhero comics that have queer content so I thought like “Oh,
that’s a good idea.” So I pitched that and the editors loved it and since then I’ve been writing
Drawn to Comics. Which I’m writing the last one ever this weekend. So that’s been a weird
thing.
NIA: Nice. Yeah, it’s… I haven’t read too many of the Drawn to Comics but I’m excited to read
more of them. I saw that Annie Mock is in there. And I don’t know, I feel like you’re doing the
Lord’s work supporting queer and trans comics creators and like getting the word out about what
they do.

MEY: Yeah, like honestly, I feel… I don’t want to be like full of myself or whatever, like I feel
bad that like, I’m not going to be writing this column anymore because I know that for a lot of
queer creators I was like the first comics journalist to write about them, y’know. So it feels weird
to not be doing, that I’m not going to be doing that anymore. And like, I’m trying to look for
other ways that I can still do that not at Autostraddle anymore, y’know. Cause it just, it feels
weird to… like I want like, the main reason, the main push behind it was that I was like “first of
all, like representation is great and I want people to be able to see themselves in comics and
media. And then number two: looking at all these great queer creators, I want them to like make
money and be able to do what they love and be able to do what they do for a living,” y’know,
and so I feel bad that I’m not, that I don’t have this platform to support them anymore.

NIA: I mean, I feel like, if this is something you’re passionate about, which it seems clear that
you are, you’ll find a way to keep doing it *laughs*

MEY: Mmhmm. Yeah.

NIA: How are you liking LA so far?

MEY: I love it. LA is my dream city. There’s like, so many things about it that I love. It gets
hard for me to like talk about it because like, first of all I love the beach, like I think that there’s
almost nothing better than going to the beach. And right now I live like a forty minute walk away
from the beach.

NIA: Oh wow.

MEY: So I can just like walk down there. Yeah, like I did this like four or five days ago, I just
walked down to Venice Beach and just like, hung out, y’know, like for an afternoon and just
walked back. I love, oh man, just like the food here is so much better than in Pocatello.

NIA: Mmhmm.

MEY: Like, I grew up mainly eating like, we’d have just, y’know, like meat and potatoes.

NIA: Mmhmm.
MEY: And then like when my mom would cook, because my mom’s Mexican, then we would
have like Mexican food, y’know.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: But, y’know, here in LA like, I have so many options. Like, it’s just like, I’m an extrovert
and I like going out and experiencing new things and in Pocatello you can’t really do that.

NIA: Mmm.

MEY: So like, here like I try new things all the time. And I just go out with people and like,
Pocatello didn’t have a music venue. Pocatello didn’t have anything and so like when I hear—

NIA: How can a college town not have a music venue? *laughing*

MEY: I know. It was the worst college town in the world, okay? It was like famous for being a
bad college town.

NIA: *laughing*

MEY: Like also, the only things… the only things open past midnight were Denny’s and
Walmart so like again, bad for a college town. But yeah, it was… well, like I’m also so like a
night person so when I went back I was trying to order some food one night and it was 9:30.
And all of the Chinese places like had closed at nine.

NIA: Oh man.

MEY: And I was like, “Guys, it’s 9:30, I can’t order food?”

NIA: *Laughing*

MEY: What is happening? It’s not even like, nighttime yet, it’s just evening. So like, yeah, like
the city and like, especially Los Angeles, is where I’m meant to be. And also like, I love
Hollywood I love. Like, honestly, I was talking to my girlfriend about this the other day like,
when I see just like interesting looking man-made structures I’m just like “Dang, this is
incredible that humans are able to make this kind of thing.” Just like walking through like a
downtown area where just like, in the city where just everything was made by humans, y’know,
like I mean like a lot of people are like “Oh this is a terrible thing no nature or whatever” but like
people like me designed all this and invented these building materials. Like I don’t even know
how to like, how you would invent like concrete, y’know. That makes no sense to me. The fact
that there are people who like, built entire cities and I’m like “Whoa, this is amazing to look at”
and it’s just like, the LGBT Center where is in Hollywood like, right by the Walk of Fame and
all that stuff, y’know. And after therapy I would go and walk cause I was like, this is incredible.
Like look at human culture, look at what we’ve accomplished. Look at the amazing things we
can build, y’know?

Transcribed by Kim Tillman

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