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Alex: Interview Transcript

Levi  0:00  

I have a couple of like, fun questions that we can answer if you want. 

 

Alex  0:04  

Oh my god, please. Yeah. Why don't we start with those?

 

Levi  0:07  

Yeah. Okay. Can you just introduce yourself in whatever way you'd like?

 

Alex  0:13  

Cool. Yeah. I'm Alex. My pronouns are they/he. I am 21 going to be 22 in [REDACTED] days...

 

Levi  0:26  

Oh my god, wait in [REDACTED] days?

 

Alex  0:28  

Yeah. [LAUGHS] 

 

Levi  0:29  

That's so exciting.

 

Alex  0:30  

[OVERLAPPING] Yeah, I was supposed to be – What?

 

Levi  0:35  

Are you doing anything for your birthday?

 

Alex  0:37  

Um, I have two midterms on my birthday.

 

Levi  0:43  

Very fun. 

 

Alex  0:44  

Uh huh. But I will be taking time for myself.

 

Levi  0:50  

You should, yeah. I'm glad to hear that.

 

Alex  0:53  

What were you saying?

 

Levi  0:55  

So, like some of the other questions that I had, were, it was like, what was something that – what is something that brings you joy is one of them. And –

 

Alex  1:04  

Oh!

 

Levi  1:05  

I can answer them as well. But you go ahead first.

 

Alex  1:08  

I would love to hear your responses too.

 

Levi  1:10  

Yeah, for sure. 

 

Alex  1:13  

Something that brings me a lot of joy is good lighting, like indoor lighting. And also I like the sun. I like waking up early and I also like looking at the sunset and it's a really cheesy answer. But I like not being indoors all day and feeling like a real person. I like knowing that I'm... like, especially with the sun. It makes me feel very small because it's like wow it's just a – it's a – it's a huge star and it's in space and its light and warmth and radiation like travel all that way and beam down on us and make things grow and make things move and I think that's really magical.

 

Levi  2:03  

You sound so intelligent when you say that. 

 

Alex  2:07  

[LAUGHS] [UNINTELLIGIBLE]

 

Levi  2:09  

I feel similarly about water – 

 

Alex  2:13  

Oh.

 

Levi  2:13  

– to the sun I don't have like the I've forgotten all like the solar science that's why I'm like amazed by by your response. But –

 

Alex  2:27  

The solar signs like in astrology?

 

Levi  2:30  

Even the idea of like beams of sunlight. Whatever you just said was impressive to me.

 

Alex  2:35  

Oh. Wait I thought you said signs like s-i-g-n-s, I'm sorry. That [UNINTELLIGIBLE] – you said science. Yeah.

 

Levi  2:41  

Yeah. But I like bodies of water like I really liked lakes when I was a kid, but I feel like I like oceans a lot better. Now. The vastness, very peaceful. It has to release like some sort of immediate serotonin. And I like swimming too. And acting like a little fish. And I really like – I was in a band last last year with two of my friends.

 

Alex  3:19  

You were? Oh my god, wait what did you play?

 

Levi  3:21  

Yes. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] I played the drums.

 

Alex  3:24  

You're fucking kidding me. You play drums?

 

Levi  3:26  

Yeah.

 

Alex  3:27  

So do I.

 

Levi  3:29  

No. 

 

Alex  3:30  

Yeah. 

 

Levi  3:31  

Really? 

 

Alex  3:32  

Yeah, I wish – I wish you could see my facial expression right now. But like, yeah, I was in a metal band for three years.

 

Levi  3:38  

Oh, god. No way. 

 

Alex  3:40  

Yeah. [LAUGHS]

 

Levi  3:41  

Cool. Wait, how long have you played?

 

Alex  3:43  

I was just about to ask you that I've been playing since I was well, I don't really practice anymore because college no access to drums but like, I started when I was 13 or 14 I think.

 

Levi  3:55  

Literally same.

 

Alex  3:56  

Oh my god. That's so crazy. [LAUGHS]

 

Levi  3:57  

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah we played like, I mean, we were just playing for fun. Like we played Oblivion by Grimes and like some other pop hits, you know?

 

Alex  4:12  

Oh my gosh, wait did you have a vocalist too, because I would have loved to. I would love to hear like what their Grimes cover sounds like.

 

Levi  4:24  

Oh, it's really it's really nice. Like we never recorded we just played at like, shows around the school. And it was me and two of my friends. So we had like a lead singer and then I did like background vocals and drums and then we had a keyboard player.

 

Alex  4:41  

Oh, that's so cool.

 

Levi  4:42  

It was really fun. [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

 

Alex  4:43  

That's so like butch of you. 

 

Levi  4:47  

It is it is – it always has been I guess. And that brought me a lot of joy because I felt like it was fulfilling some sort of like childhood dream, childhood need.

 

Alex  5:01  

Did you watch Camp Rock as a kid?

 

Levi  5:03  

Yeah, of course.

 

Alex  5:05  

Yeah. I feel like that the idea of being in a band I think, even though I have been in a band, it's still like there's something about it that I romanticize. You know.

 

Levi  5:24  

I think I always have and like, I had never been in like an informal band like this one where it's kind of like, you get together with some of your friends and something about that just releases power over your body. Like, I don't know, it was really really sweet too, it was my close friends. But now, they're both graduated. 

 

Alex  5:47  

Oh that sucks. Are they still in the area? 

 

Levi  5:50  

No. Yeah. 

 

Alex  5:53  

Aw.

 

Levi  5:55  

Yeah. But the other question that I have as just like a fun or I guess getting comfortable question is, what is like a place that holds meaning to you?

 

Alex  6:08  

Ooh. I think this is really specific, like, on the floor, of my childhood bedroom, kind of in a corner next to my closet, that was like my reading nook as a kid. [LAUGHS] I used to read a lot of Magic Treehouse, and a lot of like, science books, but also a lot of I think like, like, fantasy fiction and the Magic Treehouse, like, hit the spot, where those two genres kind of intersected for me. So that was my favorite series growing up. And I just remember, like, my household was not super stable or super peaceful. And reading, as it was, for many people, was my escape as a kid and I would kind of just sit there and like nestle up in my beanbag, like in the sunlight and kind of just escape into that world for a little bit.

 

Levi  7:46  

That sounds very peaceful. 

 

Alex  7:52  

Yeah. 

 

Levi  7:54  

It's nice that you had that space in your own room, you know?

 

Alex  7:59  

Yeah. And I'm, like, grateful to have had my own room at all.

 

Levi  8:03  

Yeah, that's true. The beanbag – that is [UNINTELLIGIBLE]

 

Alex  8:10  

I might be remembering that wrong. I don't think I ever actually had a beanbag. It might have just been a pile of pillows. But that was cozy too.

 

Levi  8:17  

Yeah. Absolutely. Wow, I feel like for me, we actually – when you said Magic Treehouse, it reminded me that there's a tree outside of my house that is kind of like lower to the ground and has branches that are you know, like it curves outward. And it has like a short stature and it's kind of like a wide tree. So like all the branches were very, like sturdy and accessible to like young children's –

 

Alex  8:48  

Short King.

 

Levi  8:49  

To short kings. And my friend and I made it like our little home as kids and we would go outside and we would sweep it and we would pick like which branch each of us would sleep on. And we made monkey bars and we had a little roll of yarn for animals to come play with that we tied around one of the branches.

 

Alex  9:14  

Oh my god, that's so sweet.

 

Levi  9:15  

Yeah, and oh my god, I'm I'm getting all these memories because so you could kind of walk through the tree and it would – it would lead you to this rock that faced my street it was kind of suspended a big rock suspended above my street and there was a plant on that rock that had like really really nice smelling leaves. And so we would kind of like reach out like over we would stand on the rock like overlooking the the neighborhood and like reach out and grab nice smelling leaves and adorn them around the tree house for you know, homely scents. Yeah. I feel like it's hard for me to paint the scene. But it was a very special place at that time.

Alex  10:09

I was about to say you're doing a really good job of painting the scene, like, literally the words I was going to use.

Levi  10:15

Wow.

 

Alex  10:16  

Like, I may not be able to picture the exact arrangement of things, but the feeling like it feels like I'm experiencing that very strongly.

 

Levi  10:29  

Yeah, I kind of felt the same way when you were speaking honestly. 

 

Alex  10:33  

Aw, aw.

 

Levi  10:34  

I created the picture in my head, you know? Yeah.

 

Alex  10:38  

We're so creative. We're so innovative.

 

Levi  10:39  

[OVERLAPPING] Okay, I feel like, I want to turn my camera off, because now I'm self conscious. 

 

Alex  10:44  

Okay. Totally. Okay. 

 

Levi  10:48  

But yeah, those are all my starter questions. And I feel like we can begin wherever you want to. 

 

Alex  10:57  

Cool. 

 

Levi  11:02  

Do you want to kind of introduce these topics yourself? Or?

 

Alex  11:07  

Um, yeah, I can do that. Also, before we start, I also wanted to say that I'm super stoked that we had those starter questions, because I feel like we haven't really spoken much outside of like, logistic things or like catching up on like, our semesters. So that was really nice.

 

Levi  11:28  

Yeah, no, I agree. Definitely. I appreciate –

 

Alex  11:33  

Okay – I can... Hm?

 

Levi  11:36  

I appreciate you, you know, buying the bit – the starter question bit – and taking it seriously.

 

Alex  11:43  

[LAUGHS] I mean, I like those kinds of questions. I think they're sweet. And I like your responses too.

 

Levi  11:50  

Mhm. Yeah, I like them as well. I think it's nice to just like get some common ground.

 

Alex  11:55  

Yeah. Cool. Okay, I can start going into some of the topics.

 

Levi  12:02  

Mhm.

 

Alex  12:08  

Something that has been on my mind, especially as I am preparing myself to officially move out of home

 

Levi  12:25  

Mhm.

 

Alex  12:25  

Is...Well, I think I've just been preparing myself to leave my mother on her own. My dad and my mom got divorced a bit ago. And they were separated for very long, which was for the best. It also meant that like my mom happened to be the primary caretaker. And I never realized until I got older and I was in therapy, and I was looking back and reflecting on my childhood, just how much work she did to protect us. And I think she did a really good job at raising me as a tomboy, and as her trans kid, even though she didn't understand it, fully at the time, when I came out to her. I think she was doing what she could and her priority was keeping us safe first. And kind of like forming a relationship with me was secondary. 

 

Levi  12:57  

Mhm.

 

Alex  13:00  

And I wish that I had more opportunities to get to know her because now it feels really hard to have close conversations with her because I never really got to have heart to hearts with her as a kid. But I don't know sometimes I feel like I really want to just talk, talk to her about my gender and how much joy I found in my community. I want to take her to a pride – pride march one day.

 

Levi  14:38  

Aw. 

 

Alex  14:39  

Yeah.

 

Levi  14:40  

That's sweet.

 

Alex  14:43  

Like she's posted on her Facebook like oh, I – I support gay marriage, etc. 

 

Levi  14:50  

Mhm.

 

Alex  14:50  

And like that was back in like, what, like 2015, 2014?

 

Levi  14:58  

Was that before you came out to her? Or after?

 

Alex  15:01  

That was before I came out to her. [REDACTED] I want to talk to her about my queerness and about gender. But I don't really have the wo – I don't know how to translate those terms into Mandarin, which is one of the language – one of the languages that she speaks. She has been in the US for 40 years, so longer than she has been in her home country, Taiwan. [OVERLAPPING: Mhm] So she's about equally fluent in English and Mandarin. But like terms like transgender, trans masculine, non binary, those are terms that are unfamiliar to her, I think partly because of a generation – generational difference, and a cultural difference, and just her not really being exposed to queerness. In her family. So I was, I think, her most, her first direct exposure to queerness. And that was really hard for her because she couldn't talk about it with her friends. I think she was afraid of what they thought, what they would think. And she couldn't talk about it with her family because she doesn't want to be known as like, the one parent who doesn't have a normal kid, quote unquote normal. Like my extended family in Taiwan is really conservative, and just very old school. And they care a lot about image and my mom has always been very free spirited, and she's always been the black sheep of the family, but she still has to play into respectability politics a little bit. [OVERLAPPING: Hm] To maintain, like a relationship with her family members.

 

Levi  17:39  

Do you feel like there were unspoken moments of like gender fluidity or like recognition between you guys even before you came out to her?

 

Alex  17:55  

Oh my god. Yeah. That's a good question. I never thought about that. But yeah, like, immediately. So many things come to mind. Like I hated wearing dresses. I used to play piano. I was classically trained from – like I started when I was maybe like, five or six, that was like young. So I would go to these piano recitals in these big poofy dresses and dresses aren't gendered, but they were for me when I was little, and I hated them. Like I really hated them. And when I told her that, she was just like, okay, and then it was just like, I didn't have to wear dresses after that I could wear like pants. And that was really cool. And I felt really comfortable. Expressing, like the tomboyish side of me around her. I played sports, she signed me up for sports classes. She let me like run around in the garden and get really dirty and like do things that my more conservative dad would frown upon. And even even now, I think there are definitely unspoken moments where she like we understand each other like I understand [UNINTELLIGIBLE] and she understands that I am happier living the way I am now. I think every time that I visit home for break, I think we understand each other a little bit more. I – I appreciate her more. And she appreciates me more because we don't live together while I'm at school and I'm not there to help her and she's not there to help me. And aside from realizing like my utility, I think she also misses, like, misses me like as her kid. [OVERLAPPING: Yeah] And part of like me being her kid means that, like, she has to accept in some form that I am queer. And think she's come to terms with it not in like a, oh, I'm tolerating this kind of way, but in like a, oh, I realize that this is how my kid is happier kind of way. [OVERLAPPING: Mhm. Mm] That's a really good question. I'll be thinking about that after this.

 

Levi  20:57  

Yeah, I mean, I feel like language is so important. And there's also so many other unspoken ways of communicating with people. So I was just thinking about that and the relationship between a parent and a child at a young age. I feel like there's a lot of unspoken language and communication that happens around gender. 

 

Alex  21:22  

Mhm. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] 

 

Levi  21:22  

[OVERLAPPING] Do you feel like as you got older – sorry, go ahead.

 

Alex  21:27  

No, no, you go first.

 

Levi  21:30  

Do you feel like as you got older, like the respectability politics became more important than when you were a child like because I feel like gender... Yeah, like did that change as you got older? Or was it always a factor even when you had certain like freedoms and comfort with her?

 

Alex  22:01  

Hm. I think in some ways, I think in general I was, it was more acceptable for me to be like to not conform to my assigned gender at birth when I was a kid, like when kids are kids like it's like, whatever, like they're just kids. And then when they're older, they're expected to learn how to perform gender and gender norms. And I was never really good at that. So I guess Okay, I'm going to circle back to the original question – respectability politics and how that's changed over time.

 

Levi  23:02  

Mhm.

 

Alex  23:11  

Like, now, I think I'm more intentional about how I perform gender. And what I mean by that is that in some spaces, I will feel really comfortable being queer like obnoxiously queer, but in other spaces, in other contexts, like when I'm with – when I'm talking to my dad, who hasn't seen what I looked like since I was 14 or 15. And also, we – we don't have any physical contact, or in person contact, we only text but he expects me to be this like loyal, pious, obedient, hardworking little girl and I'm just not that person. And, but I know how to play into that desire of his like I know how to perform gender over text, in a way that appeases him and in a way that...I think placates is a better word than appeases. My dad is like a scary person and my mom and I used to do everything we could to kind of cater to his needs and put ours second but now I think it's actually a really empowering thing to be able to switch my gender performance back and forth. And I'm in control of when I want to do that.

 

Levi  24:52  

Mhm. It's really I've – I've never thought about the idea of performing gender over text specifically, and I feel like talking about language. This also can relate to that in some ways, like, what does that mean? You know, like what does performing gender over a text message mean to you?

 

Alex  25:25  

Is that like a rhetorical question or like a question question.

 

Levi  25:30  

I mean, it's kind of a question question you don't have to answer it, it just has me – it has me thinking about forms of communication and and what we like, can and can't convey in different like mediums, languages. I feel like text is just a form that I hadn't even considered to be gendered or, or that kind of thing. 

 

Alex  26:01  

Because it's so mundane. It's just like, oh, you text someone like it's just a thing you do. And then I think people consider other forms of expression and language to be more gendered, like, I don't know, maybe poetry, maybe the film, maybe photography or painting? I don't think I don't consider any of those gendered activities, or I don't assign a gendered style to any of those things, but I've known people who are very like, like, they look for gender in everything, they look – they expect masculinity and femininity, and never anything in between and everything. This is going off topic, but I was listening to a podcast about Language and Gender and well, it was talking about how in some languages, nouns are feminine and masculine, like nouns are gendered like in Spanish, Spanish, French, Italian. I can't think of any non Romance languages, I think Russian, Russian, yes. And the language that people grow up with, affects their perception of inanimate objects like like if bridge in one language is feminine, then people will think of bridges as like, elegant, strong, and like supportive and like, if the word bridge is like a masculine noun in another language, then people who grew up with that language will view bridges as like steadfast and like, I don't know. I I think in my gender fuckery journey, I have thrown out all the gendered words that I know. So I'm having trouble describing a bridge as a masculine thing.

 

Levi  28:34  

Yeah. Yeah. [LAUGHS]

 

Alex  28:37  

I don't know if that makes sense, though. 

 

Levi  28:39  

No, it does make sense. It does.

 

Alex  28:41  

Okay. So it's like, I think it's kind of kind of fun, that language can affect our perceptions of gender in like ways we don't even consider.

 

Levi  28:57  

Yeah, definitely.

 

Alex  29:09  

Since you posed the question, I'm curious to hear what thoughts you have about it too.

 

Levi  29:15  

About language and gender?

 

Alex  29:19  

About language and gender and specifically, like you were talking about, like how you never considered texting to also be part of gender performance.

 

Levi  29:32  

Yeah, I mean, I feel like there's so many things that I don't actively consider to be a part of gender performance that are. And thinking about the example of gendered words that you were speaking about is another thing like in each, I guess like gendered societal context, there's just – so much of it is interwoven into gender roles and the way we like think about things that aren't explicitly gendered. So I guess it makes sense to me that text is one of those things, I just – I've never thought about, like, choosing my language over text in an intentionally gendered way. So it struck me that you're able to do that. And, and yeah, I think it's I think it's a cool example of, of how language can can like hold a lot more than what's on the surface of it, I guess.

 

30:59 - 36:15

[REDACTED]

 

Levi  36:15

Do you feel like the medium of text, like the fact that you only speak with your dad over text allows you for more control over the conversation? 

 

Alex  36:24

[OVERLAPPING] Oh, totally. It also gives me time to go on to Google Translate and figure out like, how how do I say this in Chinese? 

 

Levi  36:34

Right.

 

Alex  36:35  

But it's like, it's it feels like I like obviously, I can go back and edit things and change. Like, I can be super intentional about how I talk to my dad over text whereas in person, it's harder to hide, like, my immediate reactions, or it's hard to filter out all the complicated feelings I have about him. 

 

Levi  37:03

Mhm.

 

Alex  37:04

And like respond to him in a dignified and composed way. 

 

Levi  37:09

Mhm.

 

Alex  37:10  

So I think that's part of the reason that, why I haven't really talked to him, or seen him in person, like, that's my boundary with him [OVERLAPPING: Mm] because I'm not ready to perform gender in front of him as a person, because he's scary. And also I'm not ready to perform my gender or perform different genders in Chinese. Like, I am not very fluent in Chinese anymore. I used to be as a kid. Um. Yeah.

 

Levi  37:55  

Yeah. That makes that makes a lot of sense. And I'm glad you're able to have that. That form of communication that feels safe for you.

 

Alex  38:10  

I think it feels the safest given. Like all the other options, ie like we meet up in person or like have lunch or something. But still, I guess sometimes. One of my – something that I kind of have nightmares about is like, one day he sees me out in public, [OVERLAPPING: Mm] or like we finally meet up or he comes to my graduation and he sees what I look like. And I'm always just like that dream kind of goes in it can go two different ways. So sometimes it goes the route of like, oh, I'm so like, he he's so happy that he has a a son, like quote unquote, son like, because I don't want to explain how I'm like genderqueer and non binary to him. [OVERLAPPING: Mhm] So he will approximate my gender as male basically so and like sons are more much more valued in Chinese culture and Taiwanese culture than like daughters, so maybe like on one hand, he'll be excited that he finally has a son, blah, blah, blah, all that. And as long as he knows that I'm happy then he'll be supportive. On the other hand, he is so goddamn traditional and he really is a stickler about gender norms and gender roles. [OVERLAPPING: Mhm] Like he used to tell my mom she always had to have her nails painted and like always had to have makeup on when she went out, that was terrible. But like on the other hand, he could also be, he could also reject me completely. [OVERLAPPING: Mm] And in either case, if I were to see him again in person, like I feel like I am deceiving him. And I am but it feels it feels like I'm deceiving him unfairly. But also I know that I'm performing, like, gender with him in a way that protects me. [OVERLAPPING: Mm] I don't know if that was coherent at all.

 

Levi  40:40  

Yeah. But why? Why would it be unfair, you know?

 

Alex  40:47

Because I'm very autistic. And I like being blunt and honest with people. And I think people should be owed the truth. [LAUGHS] However, this is definitely one of those situations where there's exceptions. And it's just like, I always feel a little bit guilty. When I'm like hiding something from people who have made my life really hard in the past, like even doing things in self defense has come with a lot of guilt. And, like, gender is such a fundamental thing to my identity. And I've spent a lot of emotional labor and time and a lot of energy trying on different performances and crafting my gender and settling into it, all of those things. And I feel like the fact that I'm hiding this part of myself from him, even though I don't really want him to be in my life, even that feels unfair. And that that, like I'm saying that and I know that's irrational. And I think a lot of that is based in trauma that I have with him. 

 

42:37-45:45

[REDACTED]

 

Levi  45:49  

I was just curious how you think that moving out of the house is going to like change your guys' [you and your mom’s] relationship or how you want it to, even?

 

Alex  46:06  

I think I tried to touch on this a little bit earlier. And then I got really distracted by something like another thought. But, well I think the first thing is that being out of the house has made it safer, like physically for me to express my gender. 

 

Levi  46:26

Mhm.

 

Alex  46:26  

And it's made me more confident about being queer around her, especially because I think like 9 out of 10 friends I have are trans, which is something, which is such a huge privilege. And I'm so lucky to have so many wonderful trans people in my life. And like, that also feels really empowering. And so when I go home, it, I can't help but take some of that energy with me.

 

Levi  47:01  

Mm.

 

Alex  47:13  

And I think, I think that I forgot your original question. [LAUGHS]

 

Levi  47:20  

[LAUGHS] How your, how you envision your relationship with your mom changing as you move into – as you move out of the house and into young adult – ? 

 

Alex  47:31  

Oh, cool. Yeah. 

 

Levi  47:33  

Yeah.

 

Alex  47:34  

I think we're both more intentional about the time, the limited time that we spend together because I only go home for breaks. And I used to go home for summers. But this summer, I'm going to be staying in the city where I go for college. Having my own apartment, God, and working two jobs. So that's the first time that I'm – the first summer that I'm not going to be spending with my mom. And she knows that. And it's been kind of a bittersweet time. [OVERLAPPING: Yeah] We used to fight a lot back when we lived together like 24/7 in high school. And we apologize a lot more and we take more accountability for our actions when we do things that are upsetting to each other now. So it sucks that I don't get to spend as much time with her. But I think because the time that she gets to spend with me becomes so much more valuable to her when she's with me, she kind of has to accept my queerness and over time, I think she's grown to celebrate it a little bit. I don't think it's something I'll ever really talk about explicitly with her because I don't think it's something she will ever personally know, like, will will personally understand like just how important it is to me, but, being expressive as my gender and my genders – sorry, expressing my gender and my genders has empowered me in other parts of my life like something that used to give me a lot of dysphoria was my voice and my my like physical build and being on testosterone and getting top surgery have made me just more confident in general like I can go out in public without feeling like shit most of the time, [OVERLAPPING: Mhm] and around her, I feel less self conscious. Because I feel more like, more more comfortable in my own skin. 

 

Levi  50:14  

Yeah. 

 

Alex  50:18  

So like gender continues to remain this unspoken thing between us. But I think it I think it transcends language like we understand each other. And we're like, kind of, at this crossroads where we both have a lot of love and respect and care for each other, but we just don't say it. [OVERLAPPING: Mm] But we know it's there.

 

Levi  50:45  

That's really beautiful. Honestly.

 

Alex  50:48  

I knew you're gonna say something like that. [LAUGHS]

 

Levi  50:50  

[LAUGHS] It is, I mean, I feel like you're speaking about her in a very loving way, like putting yourself into her shoes in terms of her limitations as a parent, you know. 

 

Alex  51:03  

[OVERLAPPING] Mhm. Yeah. 

 

Levi  51:06 

Because I know, it's hard for me to, to sort of see the mental blocks around my own family's upbringing and the, the way they envisioned their child in, in this world and place myself – yeah, like within their limitations. So – while also recognizing like, how far they've come and...and yeah, like the love that still exists.

 

Alex 51:40  

Mhm. I think sometimes I'm glad that my mom and I have a little bit of a language barrier, because I would rather I would actually actively rather not talk about gender with her. Because I – I know a lot of like my trans friends who grew up in primarily English monolingual speaking, like monolingual English speaking households, and like their parents or their parent and or like their caregivers and siblings they have. They are equipped with the power of like, having the same like knowing the same language. [OVERLAPPING: Yeah] And so they can use their words in more hurtful ways. And like, sometimes my mom and I don't, we just don't really talk very much about heavy stuff in general. And I'm kind of...wait, let me backtrack, I think, like, with my monolingual English speaking friends, adults are more equipped to intellectualize and intellectualize queerness and speak down upon it in a really condescending way using their shared language, but with my mom and I, like, it's through actions that we show love, like cutting fruit for each other, or cooking or making the bed for each other. Or like cleaning up the house, like things like that. If that doesn't make sense to you, that's okay.

 

Levi  53:36 

No, no, it – yeah, I hear you. And I was just thinking about how we started the conversation talking about the desire to have those more emotional conversations. And now we're kind of – Yeah, cause I was just thinking about what you were saying that you don't want to speak with – to like, try and speak with her about gender in the future. And yeah, like, do you, I guess I'm curious, do you, so that's something that you don't want to pursue? Or like – to – like, is it sort of like a resignation that you guys won't be able to speak about it? Or is it something that you would want to start having those more emotional conversations, even if not about gender, about anything at all?

 

Alex  54:35  

It's something that I actively want like I actively want to not talk about gender with her. [OVERLAPPING: Mhm] And that it doesn't feel like – not in a way that feels like I'm putting bits of myself away. But I want to get her – I want to get–  I want [UNINTELLIGIBLE] I want to get to know her in different ways. Like I don't really know anything about what it was like for her when she first came to America. I know that she worked in Manhattan for, she made clothes, she was a seamstress and...I want to connect with her in different ways because even though I haven't talked to her about my gender, I feel like she understands it and sees it so it's like, that's acknowledged, let's move on to something else or not move on to something. But let's explore other things.

 

Levi  55:40  

Yeah, definitely. If you guys were to to move on to more emotional topics or explore those, would you want to do them in her native language or in English, or... [ALARM]

 

Alex  55:56  

Oh, that's my birth control alarm. [LAUGHS] We tend to use a mix of both like, at home and over text, like we'll like mid sentence or mid phrase we'll switch between Mandarin and English. But like, we understand each other like it, it gets the point across. And she'll do that with her like her. Her friends too. 

 

Levi  56:22  

Mm. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] – 

 

Alex  56:24  

So like this mix of English and Mandarin, it's – it's what she feels comfortable with. There's this piece written by Amy Tan. Well, she's the author of The Joy Luck Club. 

 

Levi  56:38  

Uh huh. Okay.

 

Alex  56:39  

And she's written lots of pieces on like, the first and second generation Asian American immigrant experience. And there's this piece that she wrote, it's called Mother Tongue. And she talks so lovingly, [UNINTELLIGIBLE] about her mother and how, what others might consider broken English is actually it's it's complete. There's nothing wrong with it, and it conveys more emotion and meaning to her in a way that only they understand. It's like their own secret language. I think that's really cool

 

Levi  57:34  

Yeah, I'm looking up – I'm looking at the piece now.

 

Alex  57:36  

You're looking it up. [LAUGHS] Like I read that in, I feel like junior year of high school, like AP English literature or something, and –

 

Levi  57:45  

Really?

 

Alex  57:47  

Yeah, and it's just stuck with me ever since because I was like, wow, like I felt really seen.

 

Levi  57:55  

Is there any other art that has really spoken to you around these topics? I'm just curious.

 

Alex  58:04  

Not off – not off the top of my head I think Mother Tongue that piece is like the biggest the biggest thing that – yeah, it's like. Yeah.

 

Levi  58:21  

[LAUGHS] Okay

 

Alex  58:44  

How do you feel about closing the interview around here?

 

Levi  58:49  

Yeah, I mean, it feels good to me I just want to take your lead with again, like if there's anything anything else you want to touch on, we can and if you feel if you feel like we should wrap it up. We can wrap it up.

 

Alex  59:10  

Yeah. I appreciate all the space that you've given me. And I feel quite enthusiastic about wrapping this up because I need to pee really bad. [LAUGHS]

 

Levi  59:22  

Of course. Of course. Well thank you again for sharing and yeah, I really appreciate you taking the time to to think about these topics and shape this interview and allow me to be here with you and hear about, hear about your life and your family.

 

Alex  59:40  

Oh my god, you're so humble of course and I'm so glad that I also got to know you in the process and like know myself a little better, as cheesy as that sounds, but it's like you asked really good questions.

 

Levi  59:53  

Oh my god, I try. [LAUGHS]

 

Alex  59:55  

[OVERLAPPING] You really do, it – it feels it seems effortless from the outside.

 

Levi  59:59  

[LAUGHS] No, I feel like I'm just a baby trans person just grasping for community and like meeting you and everyone else involved in this project has been so amazing for me so…

 

1:00:13 - 1:00:47

[REDACTED]

 

Levi  1:00:47

Mhm. Okay I’m gonna stop. I’m gonna stop the recording.

 

Alex  1:00:50

Okay. 

 

Levi  1:00:51

Let’s see. 

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