Get to know TransQueer Nation’s Tristan Skye

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imageWhat makes Atlanta’s Tristan Skye tick? As a leader among the next generation of trans folks and the founder of TransQueer Nation, he takes us deeper into his past and looks ahead at his future, including fatherhood. In addition to writing and activism, Skye (photos) and his wife Sicily founded TQ Nation, a private online social network for trans, intersex folks, gender queers and their supporters. A “safe” site introduces web surfers to the network so you can get a feel of what they’re all about before applying to be a member. But TQ Nation is all about inclusion, so it’s not just for people who identify as transgender or gender queer, Skye told Project Q Atlanta last year when announcing the Pride Essay Contest and shoring up plans for the Atlanta Pride Trans March. “We have plenty of spouses/partners and GLB allies on the site and information for them as well,” he said at the time. “We want everyone to know it’s also a place for them. … The support is important on TQ to help those like myself feel the love of the family since we tend to feel misunderstood within our own community. It’s a place to unite us all into the family we need to be.” But who is Tristan Skye? We set about finding out. How did you come to make Atlanta your home? imageActually, it was not by choice. When I was in Tucson, I was really discovering myself and began feeling like I was living two different lives. At that point, I was living as female and had my first girlfriend. This part of my life was very separate from my life with my parents. It was my big secret. During my senior year, my cousin came to visit us and somehow discovered and then told my parents my secret. The next day, I was pulled out of school immediately and my parents booked me on a flight to Tennessee where my grandparents live. I mean the very next day. So my girlfriend and my friends all showed up at the airport at six o’clock the next morning, and everybody is crying. It was a big to-do and very traumatic. But when the plane landed in Phoenix, I called my girlfriend and told her, “I am not getting off this plane in Tennessee! When it stops in Atlanta, I am making a run for it.” And I did. I ended up staying with an uncle here. I was very unhappy. I was living in a city that was not my choice, and I hated it. But then at the age 22, when I returned to Tucson for a year, I discovered that I was missing Atlanta and it actually more felt like home. So I came back. You and your wife have put much of your lives out on the web, specifically your journey through top surgery. How do you think social media helps you and other transgender people? Social media is both good and bad. The internet is becoming a fantastic place for people discovering their transgender selves and understanding how to embrace and express it. When I began researching top surgery for myself, I found a lot of pre- and post-surgery images and stories, but nothing about the process. What was Day Two like? What was Day Five like? Visually, what happens to the scars over a couple of weeks? A month? So my wife and I decided that we’d use our experience to not only document this experience for ourselves, but also for other transmen who will follow me. Putting it out there on the internet allows others to see the struggle we face to achieve the face we know is inside. The bad side of the social media stuff is that it takes so much to maintain a virtual presence. Posting videos to YouTube, writing and commenting on blogs, maintain the TQ Nation website, all of this takes time and energy. It is almost as if you’re running two lives; real and virtual. The virtual one feeds off the real one in order to live. So, you have to fight for balance. My wife is very good for helping me maintain balance. You’ve done a lot of movie “extras” work. What’s that like? I actually started when I was 16. I was an extra in the movie “Box of Moonlight,” but I almost had an actual role. My grandparents run a hotel in Tennessee, and somehow it was chosen for one of the scenes. When the Location Director came out to take photos of the hotel, he took some of me. But unfortunately, the casting director in New York had already filled the part. Other than that, I have been in several independent films. But as far as the extra work, it is long hours for not a lot of pay. But to me it is fun. When I was younger, I wanted to be an actor. But now I see all the pressures of actors’ lives being so public. I realized that I wanted to have something else for my life. I want to settle down, have a family. What would you do if Logo offered you your own show? Well if that offer ever came, I’d do it in a heartbeat. … perhaps a reality show kind of based on that Drew Barrymore’s movie “Never Been Kissed” where she goes undercover into a high school. Well, my show would have me going back to high school, but now, in my current gender, as a boy. While watching various scenarios rollout, we’d cut away to me talking about the differences between what I had experienced in those situations as a girl. A reality show based on a transgender man could be quite cool. I think I look young enough and could get away with it. Of all the Seven Deadly Sins, which one do you suffer with the most? Um…all of them! You know, when I think about it, as I have gotten older, I have changed off on which one takes a hold of me. Currently, I’d have to say gluttony. Because, man! I do love food and have a sweet tooth. However, I have gone through some of the others. Lust when I was younger. Greed before I understood that money wasn’t going to bring me happiness. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Having a full family and enjoying a house on the beach. Part of that dream, I can share with you is actually coming true now. After dreaming for a couple of years about bringing an addition to our relationship, my wife and I are pregnant, and we are expecting our baby around Thanksgiving. The idea of being a father, a good father, is one I have held for a while now. With the help of my wife, I know that we will have a warm loving family. We are so excited! If you were to meet her now, what would your 10-year-old self say to the Tristan Skye of today? I think she would be so grateful that I was brave enough to make this journey. She would also be so shocked to see that we were free of the body and mindset that held us back and made us to be someone else. I think she’d be very happy. I know that the Tristan I am today is very happy. This is mostly due to the relationship I have with my wife. She is an amazing person. I am doing the things necessary to make me whole on the outside. She has helped me to be whole on the inside. imageAryc W. Mosher is co-founder of M-Square Photography, a digital art and protrait studio that has been capturing special moments across greater Atlanta for the past five years, including the ones on this page. He has been involved in LGBT Atlanta since his arrival from Michigan. {encode="[email protected]" title="E-mail him"} or find him on Facebook.


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