Agony and Ecstasy
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
October 19 2011 4:00 AM ET
“The whole penis…I’m OK with that down there, you know. Most people don’t realize that there’s more to being a woman than just, I guess, putting on dresses and wearing makeup and your genitals. [People think] you have a male body and a penis so that makes you the man. But they can’t dig deep enough unless they really want to understand what’s going on in the subconscious mind and what I like to call subconscious sex.
“Not only is the environment changing, but people don’t realize the human being is changing, our culture is changing. I see more and more trans women and trans men and it’s just, it’s so ironic, it’s so cosmic.
“A lot of people I did come out to, friends, and family members and stuff, like people that I thought would really support me really let me down. And people that I was a little bit fearful to come out to pretty much completely had my back. I’m from a crazy Italian family so all the Italian men in my family are like stereotypical bruisers—too much testosterone, most of the men in my family have gone bald, tattooed from head to toe, vicious looking, but deep down inside they’re like flowers. I have many cousins like that that I thought would like never get it or understand and they were like, ‘We always knew something was different about you.’”
Caputo wishes people could be more sensitive to the idea of what transgender individuals go through emotionally and psychologically to “finally become this fearless entity within him or her own self.” For her, she’s at a point where “I don’t give a fuck who says what or what looks I get. I’m a beautiful human being and I offer society a lot and I’m proud of who I am.”
The singer admits her first year “going through hormone therapy was murder, I thought I was going to commit suicide. It’s like I’m 34 years old going through puberty again, the whole mind changes.” Puberty in your 30s, says Caputo is odd. “Trust me, I’m like a fifteen-year-old girl. I am so goofy… one minute I’ll be really happy and giddy and laughing and joking, and an hour later I’ll be just so dispirited.”
She still feels lucky that her physical metamorphosis from angry rocker dude to, well, the fierce female musician she is today, may have been easier than some women’s. “I’m really lucky, I’m really tiny, I’m very fit. So I’m blessed. I went to the Guitar Center yesterday to shop for some guitars, and the guy’s like, ‘Hi, ma’am, how are you?’ I get all gushy inside because it’s just so nice to finally [be recognized as a woman]. And my breasts aren’t even that big, you know? But the hormones have really, really changed my body a lot. I have a great doctor. He’s amazing, he’s like my psychologist too.”
Living part time in New York City and part time in Europe, Caputo admits she’s already faced discrimination Stateside. “I’ve had run-ins on the train, ignorant people, you know, calling me ‘he-she’ or ‘he-man.’ If anyone tries to screw with me, I will not hesitate to cut somebody up like a piece of meat. I will do anything and everything to protect myself. I mean I don’t want to hurt anybody but if someone lays their hands on me, I’m going to shank somebody. My father’s been in prison his whole life, so just because I’m wearing a skirt doesn’t mean I don’t got big balls, OK? Because I will not hesitate to do anything and everything to protect myself.”
While she has the media spotlight on her, Caputo — whose new CD with the Neptune Darlings (“Chestnuts & Fireflies) is already garnering geek rock comparisons to David Bowie and Pink Floyd — is finishing up another solo album, touring Europe (as Keith M Mina and Her Sad Eyed Ladies), and trying not to let the media cacophony get her down. Fans, so far, have been behind her. Since the media picked up on her transition story, Caputo has been flooded with letters from gay fans inspired by her coming out, by former junkies now sober and clean thanks to her music, by wives of closeted transgender women who want advice. And there are plenty of date offers by male fans. Her transition is still a huge topic of discussion among rock music fans.
“I try explain to people without pushing it in people’s face too. I’m not like an activist. If someone needs my help I’d be glad to. I think it’s hysterical actually that I get these people that have been listening to me for like 20 plus years and they think they stand for something else like brutality and masculinity but meanwhile I have these guys asking me to take me to dinner.
“I’m really happy that the media really picked up on it because it was kind of like a big step three years ago, but now it seems like a full circle sort of happened and I’m happy. Newspapers all across Europe…I’m on the front page, and everybody was talking about me when I was Europe and it was like, At least get the story straight. Girlfriend is keeping their genitals and it’s not just about that.”
Though many mistake Caputo for a flamboyant gay man, she tries to explain to people that “gender has nothing to do with sexuality. And who knows what scientifically makes us transgender. Does it happen in the womb? Is it environmental? No one really knows for sure. I used to think that because my mother used to do dope, OK maybe something didn’t develop in my brain, because, when I didn’t accept myself growing up, I was like, No, I want to. Every time I had a whole girl’s wardrobe, I would go through my phases of throwing all of my clothes out. I can’t do this, I’m going to grow my beard, I’m a man. Then a month later I’m like, Oh my God, that dress is so gorgeous, I got to get it. Here I am starting up my wardrobe again.”
Now that she’s accepted herself, and found coming out had nothing but a positive impact on her music, Caputo just wants to make music her fans will like.
“I had an interesting and turbulent evolution, in every part of my life — spiritually, physically, family wise. I’ve been through crazy stuff. But it made me stronger and it made me appreciate life. I love life, I do. It’s so precious. Every moment, every waking moment is a gift, and that’s the important thing.”
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