Being Buck Angel

By on May 31, 2017
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Recently Synergy was fortunate enough to snag some precious time with Buck Angel, an amazing whirlwind personality. Buck is described as an icon of popular culture, he has transitioned his body from female to male and he has a clear message of empowerment through self-acceptance and being sexually comfortable in your own skin.

Buck inspires people to think outside the box, he is re-defining gender and educating an entire generation on the fluidity of sexuality and identity politics. Since Buck coined the phrase ” it’s not what’s between your legs that define you!”, the term has become an anthem for men and women everywhere who have been inspired by this message of self-acceptance.
When Synergy Magazine spoke with Buck he was about to tour Demark, Malaysia, and Tokyo.

Congratulations on the 2017 AVN Award for Transsexual Scene of the Year for Evil Angel’s Girl/Boy 2 with Valentina Nappi, directed by Dana Vespoli. You also picked up the 2017 Xbiz Specialty Product/Line! It’s been quite a year, how do you fit it all in?

Thank you so much! We ( Perfect Fit Brand and I ), also won the AVN “O” award for the most innovative toy! It’s been an amazing year so far. I feel so blessed and so much gratitude for where I am in my life. Sometimes I can’t believe it, but then I remember how long I have been beating down the walls in front of me.

What have you got lined up for 2017?
Gosh, just so many things but one of them is that Perfect Fit Brand and I are working on more products for my community which is so exciting. It’s so great to see my community finally being serviced. Along with that, I am working on some new adult site projects to help bring more visibility for trans men and woman. It will also create jobs and enable trans people to make their own sites and content. Basically, represent themselves the way they would like to be. Along with that, I am working on some cannabis products. I believe that using natural alternatives to western medicine should be an option for our community which has a lot of trauma, mental health, anxiety, PTSD and more. Doctors prescribe narcotics and that I believe is just masking the problem. We should at least have an alternative choice.

I am also working on my book about my life. It has been something I have wanted to do for a while but really didn’t have the time and I am not that comfortable writing. Finally, I found a co-writer who is a professional and can help me put it all together.

You have become an incredible motivational force for transgender individuals and self- empowerment. Let’s go back to the beginning, how did this all start? What kind of childhood did you have?
I feel so lucky to be this guy who people listen to and known that I only want the best for my community and really for humans in general. That wasn’t always the case. I come from a life of misery. Hating myself so much. Suicide attempts, cutting, drinking, and drugs. Just a lost cause really. But the thing is my childhood wasn’t bad. I actually had a very normal upbringing. My parents were super cool about treating me like Buck even though I was a girl.

I was really raised like a boy most of my childhood. It didn’t stop until I hit puberty and that is really when all the trouble started. This is something every person can relate too. It’s not just a trans thing. Though the difference is that trans people never grow into their bodies through puberty like cisgender people do. I just never felt like a whole person after puberty. It just went downhill from there. I started acting out. Drinking and using drugs to hide the pain, the pain that no one understood. My parents sent me to many phycologists and doctors trying to figure me out. I became rebellious and mean. I started cutting myself with razor blades. I thought about suicide all the time, I even attempted it a couple times and was admitted to a psychiatric ward for a bit.

Where the school was a place that most kids bonded with others, I hated it. I didn’t make many friends and the only thing that’s saved me was sports. I joined the women’s track team and excelled at that, all while my drinking and drug usage escalated. I started fighting in school with other students. which got me sent to other schools. That, in turn, made me more isolated. It just was a downward spiral.

The crazy thing is that all this time I was a sought after runner by clubs. I eventually got onto one of the biggest amateur running teams but that only kept me at bay for a while, because the next thing that started to happen was my sexuality. And that just made my life even worse. Can you imagine in the late 70’s this girl so shy, so angry and not understanding herself at all and then sexuality hits me like a ton of bricks, I was so lost. No one to talk to about this.
Every time I would talk to a phycologist they just said I would grow out of it. When I would say I felt like a man they had no idea how to respond.

Eventually, my sexual feelings for other girls just wouldn’t go away and I had a relationship with my best friend who was also a runner. But that was very secret and we were just ” best friends”. So much to deal with as a young person in a time where no one discussed any of this, oh except in the woman’s sports world it was very frowned upon to be a lesbian. So again there I was with no one to discuss anything with me. Eventually I just left high school with no degree and wandered the world with anger and resentment. I become a raging drug addict and alcoholic and eventually homeless. It wasn’t until I got sober and figured out that I could become a man that’s when things turned around for me.

What issues did you face to physically become a man and how have you come to self-accept?
Well like I said before I always knew. I am sure you can ask any transgender person this question and they will probably say something similar. All of my mental health professionals back in my youth and early adulthood did not have the tools to help. I do not blame them because in those days they had no training. They were working with zero tools. It was tough on me and made me feel alone and like I was lost. It a strange feeling, when you know you are right, about how you feel but zero validation, I actually at times felt like I was insane.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to meet a therapist who understood me. She was compassionate, even though she didn’t really have the skills to deal with it, she made a big effort to learn and be involved with my transition. I feel like she saved my life in many ways. Her name is Casey Weitzman and she is now in the practice of helping transgender people. After she validated my feelings and made me feel like I wasn’t insane we worked on trying to find doctors. This was in Los Angeles and there were no resources. We had to dig deep.

The internet and the amazing resources that it has today didn’t exist back then. Bookstores were the equivalent of this. So eventually in an LGBT bookshop in west Hollywood California, I found a transgender magazine and in it were a list of doctors, all for the MTF trans person and nothing for FTM. But I made a leap and contacted the hormones doctor who invited me into his office and we discussed that he had never worked with anyone like me but was willing to take the chance if I was. He said to me, ” you will be my guinea pig”, and when I look back on that it makes me smile because it’s such a profound statement. But when he actually said it I remember feeling so scared but knowing that I had no choice, because the second choice was death.

I took the chance! I was lucky enough after that to find a top surgeon who also had never worked with transgender males. He worked with trans women but was very interested in this new surgery that was called the keyhole, which today has become one of the primary top surgery for trans men. I was one of the first in the states to get this. Again, a ” guinea pig”, but feeling so confident about trusting my doctor. His name is Dr. Gary Alter and he was so loving and caring. He never made me feel anything other than love.

I have been very lucky in that even though I was ahead of my time, my medical team was always so caring. I really equate that to not only them but myself, in that I gave off the energy that I was in need of fixing myself to become the man I was supposed to be. Both of our desires to create my authentic self-fed off each other’s energies. I know how lucky I am to be this guy today. But I also know that I would never be if it wasn’t for the amazing love and respect that all my medical providers gave to me. This is how I became the confidant man today.

Most people would say I am not complete because I did not choose to do the penis surgery or what we in the trans world call ” bottom surgery” This became a big problem if the trans male world. Trans men were very angry at me for speaking out about being a man with a vagina. They attacked me, a funny thing is they still do it today. It really goes to show how we have been so brainwashed to believe that we are our genitals and nothing else. I have been freed of this idea and I think some people want to get to this freedom and they cannot so they react towards people like myself. It is sad to me, because I do this work in order to hopefully create a space for others to get to where I am.

For me it’s all about sharing. It’s about hopefully inspiring people, not just trans people, that they can be whoever they like, just take that path and remove the fear.

You seem to be comfortable in your own skin, what message can you give to others who are identifying with you and are considering or going thru transgender issues?
I have been very lucky in that somehow, I saw the “light”. I finally figured out the puzzle and that is that I had to live life on my own terms and not what others wanted. I was doing that my whole life. The thing that solidified that for me was my vagina. Which always makes me laugh because it is the last thing I would ever think was going to make me a whole person or even the man I am today. But what I think is the important message here is this. You must understand yourself and what you want from life.

There will always be someone or communities that will tell you that you are not good enough until you conform to their beliefs. To me that sounds like a cult. It is a dangerous way to think. We as trans people have always been told that we will never be. So you must understand that you can be, you can be that dream that you have always dreamt, you can be that gender you always wanted to be. But that is up to you and no one else. Follow your heart and follow your own idea. You do not have to answer to anyone but yourself. Always focus on you. Do not react and do not find your peace in reacting to others. It is a very important thing I am saying here. We have learned to “conform” again in the transgender world. There are people who want to control us there as well. Who believe that being a transgender person is under a certain guideline=ne and that is far from the truth. Remember that you are a human first and a trans person second.

You’ve appeared on HBO, National Geographics, The Tyra Banks Show, Dan Savage, Sirius Radio, and many others. You ‘ve been written about in Forbes, Esquire, Cosmo, VICE, Huffington Post, ELLE, Buzz Feed, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Maxim and the New York Times. You are a such a popular interview subject for the major media outlets and the press, this can’t be just because of a physical change in your appearance. Why do you think there is so much interest in your persona?
Thank you. I really feel so much gratitude for my voice and the acceptance that more and more want to hear about my journey because they see value in it. Not just for trans people but for people. I think that is why I have been sought after. My message is about becoming yourself in a world that is all about control. That enables not only the LGBTQ community to hear me but the world. I think of myself as more of a human rights activist than a trans activist. I believe that we should all have a choice in becoming ourselves. Why should it only be about trans? We put so much pressure on people to fit into communities, to fit into a society that it is so damaging. I have been freed of this idea and sharing it has been one of the many gifts that I have been given through my transition.

Your successful Netflix doc, ‘Sexing The Transman’ has been shown worldwide, what can you tell us about the motivation and the filming?
What I saw in the mainstream film festivals, especially LGBTQ was zero representation about trans male sexuality. My trans male adult series called ‘Sexing The trans man XXX’, was doing very well in the adult world but was crossing over into the mainstream but many people were not so interested in the sex part of it, but more the interviews about sex and sexuality with trans men and transition.
I decided that in order to reach that audience I had to make something that would get into the festivals and that’s how Sexing the Transman Documentary was conceived. With no experience with film making for that festival circuit I can make it and put it out there. Then it exploded. I was actually very shocked at how well received it was. You know I made that in 2012 and I just recently came back from Copenhagen where is screened at the Winter Pride Festival. That’s how much in demand this subject is.
I am very grateful that we are understanding that speaking about sexuality and sex in the trans world is important. I connected to my body through sex and why I believe that this is an important subject to discuss. See more here at http://sexingthetransman.com/.

You’ve also received numerous awards for transmen and transgender movies (http://buckangelentertainment.com/), is this an area that you will expand on?
Most defiantly yes. I believe in the power of film making. It has really changed everything for me and my business. Reaching outside the adult world to mainstream has been very powerful. I still get pushed against. But that will never stop me. I think that means it’s more important than ever. we have new generations of young trans kids. They might not get surgeries and we need to start to talk about sex and sexuality as a trans person who doesn’t conform to society’s ideas of gender and genitals. We need to start this discussion now. Why are we not? it says so much about our ideas of sex. That it’s not important. It is more important than people understand and I will keep pushing for this conversation until I see that happen.

Last year you partnered with Perfect Fit Brand to create the ‘Buck-Off’, the first sex toy marketed specifically for Female To Male (FTM) trans people. How did this come about?
It was a long hard road but in the end, I am so grateful I ended up with Steve Callow and Perfect Fit Brand. They have been so wonderful and caring. Understanding the need for this product. Taking a chance with me when my idea was just an idea. Steve took the time to sit down with me and literally within minutes of my pitch to him he stopped me and said ” Buck there is really no pleasure product made for trans men”, and he was shocked. I said to him, ” yes there really is nothing”, and he said well then that’s a “no-brainer lets do this”, and the Buck Off was born.

Steve is a great designer and with my years of speaking to trans men as well as creating the Buck Off out of other toys on the market, we fine-tuned it and that’s how it was born! I had been to almost all the major toy companies in the business but no one wanted to take a chance with me. It is why I will always be so grateful for Prefect Fit Brand, and with that we have now started to produce more products for my community.

British artist Marc Quinn created a life-size sculpture of you which was purchased by the Museum of Adelaide, Australia, as a permanent piece. How does it feel to be immortalized in an Australian museum?
Words cannot even explain the immense honour and gratitude I have for this. Marc Quinn had a vision and I was lucky to be a part of this. When the Adelaide museum purchased the piece and invited me to come to speak to the donors in a, Conversation with Buck event, it was one of the major highlights of my life. It was a game-changing experience for me on many levels. To be accepted in the world of art is a whole other level. To have a sculpture made of yourself is really just something that I cannot express.
When I was there at the museum taking photos for the paper and a group of young school girls came in and they were all so interested in my sculpture. I stood back so they didn’t notice me. Then I heard the woman who was taking the class around explain that I was a real person, because I think it is hard for some to envision that a man with a vagina really exists in the world. Then she saw me standing there and told the girls that I was actually there, they all gasped. Not in a bad way but they were clearly shocked that I was indeed real. Speaking to them they were so sweet and really I could see how they understood everything I was saying. I thought to myself, there could easily be someone in that group who is transgender and might be struggling and maybe my words and presence will be a light for them.

You have already accomplished so much, and for so many, what else is on your Buck(et) list?
My life is a blessing. I have been saved for a reason. My voice is powerful for a reason and that is because I have learned to love myself and I am unapologetic for it. so with that, I have so many projects that I feel will further my message. Working on a line of products with Perfect Fit Brand, creating cannabis products to help with the LGBT community mental health, writing a book, speaking, creating a trans male adult site where trans men can express themselves sexually the way they see fit. But most important for me is just to keep my voice out there in hopes of inspiring others to just be!
Thank you so much for this interview I am grateful that you hear me and give me space to continue my work.

A Synergy Magazine interview with Buck Angel

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