Hello Aydian, Thanks for doing this interview with me. First of all could you tell me a little about yourself?
My name is Aydian Ethan Dowling, I identify as a transgender man, I was born female and transitioned to a man. I came out as a lesbian when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old and lived as a lesbian until I was about 21 when I came out as transgender. I also identify as an entrepreneur as I own a clothing company called Point5CC.com as well as just started a non-profit called PointOfPride.org
I also identify as well as a motivational speaker as I love to encourage and promote people to find the strength and power they have within themselves and share the gifts they have inside themselves with the world.
I have been on YouTube documenting my transition since Feb 2009 (first YouTube transition video). I have been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) since oct 2009 also and I got top surgery done in the summer of 2012.
I got a little popular, some may say, when I was in the running to be the first transgender man to be on the cover of men’s health magazine, that was the November readers edition 2015, that was really exciting being the first transgender man interviewed for men’s health, that was freakin’ awesome!
Where did you grow up and what was it like coming out in transition?
I grew up in Long Island, NY, and graduated high school in 2005, I was very much a 90s kid, and I came out as a lesbian when I was going to catholic school, so that was really tough, I told my one best friend, and then when I was going to public school for 11th and 12th grade, I came out to my mother.
I was the only out lesbian, there was an out male at my HS too, he was the same grade, and we became friends because we were the only two out people in school and seeking transition, I didn’t identify as transgender until I was out of HS, and even then I didn’t have anywhere to go, I used to drive 45 mins closer to the city in order to go to a weekly meeting, and then when I had to go to see the doctor I would take the 1.5hr train ride which is hell expensive to seek actual physical transitioning.
How much support did you receive from your family?
I received a moderate amount from my family, they were not kicking me out or kicking and screaming and telling me they were disgraced but they did take some time to come around it was kind of like a very Italian family, we don’t talk much, we don’t express our feelings much so it was kind of said , told my mother, then father then brothers separately and it was said and then it went quiet, my name and using pronouns was avoided.
I was pretty confident and transitioned quickly, I came out in Feb and by Oct I had already got permission and qualified to get HRT, so it wasn’t super quick almost a whole year, but I would say by the beginning of 2010 people were calling me Aydian and using the correct pronouns so that was really great, I was lucky.
If you could send a message to other transgender people, what would it be?
If you identify as trans or questioning your gender, I would say EXPLORE, don’t be so afraid to explore, don’t put yourself in dangerous explorations, you know, maybe your first exploration is in a house, maybe if you’re female born and thinking about being male maybe try buying a binder and wearing it around the house, and see what that feels like, how do you feel wearing it, do you like looking the mirror, do you like what you see?
Maybe you’re a male and you identify as female and you’re scared to dress out, why don’t you host something at home with your friends then dress up then, in the safety of your own house how do you feel, what do you feel when you look in the mirror. how do you feel when people “she” you or “girl” you, or maybe you’re androgynous and you’re exploring your gender and you’re not too sure where you fit on the spectrum, go explore, maybe go to a Queer Event go to a meeting at an LGBT centre, or a queer night at your local LGBT bar, see what those people are like and see if you identify with those people, just explore. It’s about exploring, we can’t be so afraid to explore, if you don’t explore you never find the treasure.
What are your thoughts or issues on transgender using public facilities such as gyms?
My issues are, if you identify you should be able to use whatever you identify as, I hate the fact that people think paedophiles and rapists will be using this, because it is so clear when you talk to somebody who is transgender and who is not, when someone is faking it you can tell, their energy is “faking it”, when you are talking to somebody who does not match the stereotypical binary definition of that gender, you can tell if they truly see themselves that way or if they are faking it so that they can get into use restrooms and look at inappropriate things, so it bothers me a lot that people just assume because you’re trans you must be in the category of a paedophile or a rapist, it is totally insane.
How can we get around these issues and improving their health?
Honestly, if you have an issue going or using the gym or restroom then we have to use what is available, so for instance my gym is across the street from a Starbucks. Starbucks is awesome, they’re great, they’re super inclusive, change at Starbucks, they have a single stall bathroom at every Starbucks, they’re gender neutral, most of them identify that way and if not at least there is a single stall, get changed there. That would be a great place to start, getting changed there, using the restroom there, don’t allow other people to deny you happiness and health. that is the last thing you want to do, is let somebody else at the gym, or someone else on the track, or someone else on the field, or someone else on the path made you feel bad for trying to do better than you already are. Because you know what, that is exactly what you’re there for, and if they’re going to judge you for that then you don’t want to be around them anyway, so you’re lucky they’re not in your lives.
Tell me a little more about your clothing line.
So I started a clothing line called Point5CC.com and I started it because I myself wanted top surgery I was on hormones just about three years and I had almost a full grown beard and I still had breast tissues, living in Florida with binding and it was just getting really tough I got married, bound, it was hard being married as a man and woman and having to wear a binder so I wanted to raise money so I tried a million different things, tried selling cupcakes and bake sales, selling wood carvings because I like woodwork, and nothing worked. Nothing made any money, took extra hours at work and I was on an MTV Loco Special called ‘It Gets Better’, and I got paid $250 for three days of my time, and I went and bought a screen-printing press, and I screen-printed a super-tee logo (Superman logo with a T in it) and started selling online for $20, so I would go to Wal-Mart and buy the shirt for $5, and make the shirt and then I would ship it and keep the $13 I would make off every shirt after shipping, and that is literally how I made the company. In about 6-9 months between that and taking on extra hours – they didn’t have GoFundMe accounts back then – I was able to get my top surgery and through this programme I decided to keep it open because at the time there was no other companies making transgender t-shirts and there were no other companies promoting pride in the trans community. There was no other trans representation , the company was officially started April 2012 before Laverne Cox, before Janet Monk, and so it was a big deal to have it open and I am really proud of it and it grew a lot in the last two to three years it was really a baby brand and now we raise money for top surgeries and other trans surgeries and now we have a binder program and we’ve given away over $1000 free binders and we grew so big out of Point5CC that we started point of pride dot org and now we have all of our programs there, and we have a board of six or nine people and it’s going really well it’s in the birthing stages and we’re still looking for funding and it’s in the process.
Is there any other message you would like to put out there?
Overall the message is in everything I do, believe in yourself and to look inside yourself that no one will believe in you more than yourself and you better start believing now because no one is going to help you get up better than yourself,, it’s not a me vs the world concept, there are people that will support you, it’s more just a me vs me the only person limiting you is yourself or the people you keep around you who are feeding you limitations and we especially in the LGBT community and other minorities are oppressed we need to fight past our own insecurities and our own fears and band together and defeat those that are trying to really work against us.
Thank you, Aydian for agreeing to this interview with me today. I wish you luck in the future.
Social media and websites of interest.
Instagram and twitter