An interview with Paige Phoenix
Paige Elliot Phoenix is a 36-year-old female-to-male transgender who appeared on Australia’s The X Factor in 2011. Paige describes music as his life and what he does best. He says that his decision to transition was one of the best he has ever made, one that has enabled him to be the person he always wanted to be.
Paige is intense and passionate and has a loyal and generous heart. He shows a whole lot of courage and in the eyes of many is very inspiring to be so open and honest about who he really is. He also describes himself as "wolf-like".
Paige maintains a vlog under the name nokiebloke (new window), speaking about his life and thoughts and his musical career. Recently I spoke to him about the experience of gender transitioning.
Growing up as a female in what ways did you feel like you didn’t belong in a female body?
My chest always felt wrong to me as a kid. I rocked around shirtless a lot, so as I got older and that got less OK, my body felt like more and more of a burden.
What was it like for your family when you disclosed your choice to live as a male?
A better question to ask them, I think. I can tell you that they responded with shock, distress and asked me to cease contact. So you can make some assumptions from there about what it might have been like for them.
Did you ever experience verbal or physical abuse as a result of discrimination?
Yeah. It's hard to know, sometimes when you're being discriminated against, whether it's because you're queer, or just because the person you're dealing with is an asshole, but, I think often times even when it's not being made explicit - e.g. I'm not going to give you this rental property because you look like you might be gay! - that stuff can be operating under the surface.
I was assaulted physically at a BBQ a couple of weeks ago and even though nothing was actually said about it, I think in part it was because I was trans. Fractured nose, two black eyes. I think we need to be careful if we choose to be out.
Growing up, who was your idol?
Ani DiFranco. My dad. Anyone who could fight - Jean Claude Van Damme. Arundhati Roy. John Farnham.
What where the emotional and mental results of transition?
There were lots of them. My emotionality has changed a lot. I think differently. We don't really have medical research to back it up yet, but I think it rewires you completely.
I have lots of "classic" male behaviours that I find I have to work against at times: territorialism, the urge to take bigger risks, the urge to compete. And I'm also much better at problem solving and fixing things. Go figure.
Was there ever a time that you felt you might not be making the right choice in regards to physical transition?
Sort of. I mean, I questioned everything the whole time. There were points where I wondered what the consequences would be if I somehow made a wrong choice and I did something irreversible that I couldn't live with, what then?
I remember going under the anesthetic to get my first chest surgery and I was terrified. Even though I'd wanted it as long as I could remember there was always this "what if" in the back of my mind.
I think it's incredibly important to spend as much time as you can with a qualified practitioner considering all your options and why it is your making the choices you're making, because they are huge and many of them can't be reversed again afterward.
What advice would you give to young people who identify as transgender?
There's a lot of negative messages and images out there of transgendered folks. But there's also a really amazing community and a massive amount of good support and information. Believe wholeheartedly that you have a right to be whoever you want to be, and surround yourself with people who will support you in your journey.
Don't listen to haters. They're just stuck and scared and usually jealous that you're living the life you've dreamed of when they didn't have the courage. But if it's possible, don't hate back. That's a vicious circle that goes nowhere. They need love.
In what ways do you think your life has changed the most now living as a male?
I'm happier now. I can create more, because I'm more myself. Body grooming takes A LOT longer - I'm very hairy.
To some you are a hero and an idol. How do you feel about this?
I think it’s an incredible compliment and an honour, but at the end of the day we're all just folks being ourselves, and everyone does it a little differently. I just hope that whatever I've been able to contribute has helped in some way. And I hope we can keep the ball rolling.
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Reviews written by Bonnie
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