TOBIN: Kathy, what was preschool like in Taiwan?
KATHY: I remember wearing a little uniform dress, and we had a little handkerchief that you had to fold into thirds and pin to your shirt, so that if anything messy happened, you would have your handkerchief right there to clean yourself up.
TOBIN: My god.
TOBIN: Preschool Tobin would have LOVED that! [BOTH LAUGH]
KATHY: Tell me more!
TOBIN: I wore a dress so many days of preschool. Like, during dress-up time, they would have a trunk full of clothes. And I would always pull out this beautiful purple dress and put it on. And it was, like, during that magical time when everyone's young and gender is, like -- you're not thinking about it.
KATHY: Yeah, yeah.
TOBIN: The rules haven't come in to, like -- [IN A MOCK-COMMANDING VOICE] "You need to like Power Rangers now!"
KATHY: I love Power Rangers.
TOBIN: I was also working out a lot of stuff in preschool. I have a full book full of sheets that they sent home with me that just say, "Tobin bit this kid today."
KATHY: [BURSTS OUT LAUGHING]
TOBIN: "Tobin shoved this kid today." Like a binder full of them.
KATHY: [STILL LAUGHING] Are you serious?
TOBIN: Yeah. I was a violent child.
KATHY: What was going on, Tobin? What was going on there?
TOBIN: Um, I dunno. It's fun to bite people.
KATHY: I was never that person.
TOBIN: [SERIOUS, SPOOKY VOICE] I have tasted human flesh.
[THEME MUSIC STARTS]
GUEST 1: From WNYC Studios this is Nancy.
GUEST 2: With your hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu.
[THEME MUSIC ENDS]
TOBIN: Yes, Kathy?
KATHY: Do you know what's coming back?
TOBIN: I have a feeling, because you've been talking --
KATHY: It's Orange is the New Black!
TOBIN: Okay, okay. Calm down!
KATHY: Is that -- Is that too much?
TOBIN: [LAUGHS] I'm still bruised by last season.
KATHY: I mean, yeah. We're all heartbroken. We also all need to know what happened.
TOBIN: The death that shall not be named.
KATHY: Don't do it, Tobin.
KATHY: Don't spoil it for people.
TOBIN: Why are you excited?
KATHY: I'm excited, because we got to talk to Asia Kate Dillon, who plays Brandy on the show. And Brandy is the neo-Nazi with the tattoos and the shaved head and hangs out with all the white supremacists.
TOBIN: Just so we're clear, you mean you're excited that we got to talk to Asia Kate, not that their character's a neo-Nazi?
KATHY: You know what I meant, Tobin.
TOBIN: Asia, the actor, also plays Taylor on the show Billions.
TOBIN: And Taylor is this, like, brilliant whiz kid in the finance world.
KATHY: So good at math.
[CLIP] TAYLOR: Hello. I'm Taylor. My pronouns are they, theirs, and them.
KATHY: So Taylor's gender non-binary, and it turns out Asia is, as well, in real life.
TOBIN: Right. Asia uses the pronouns "they/them" ...
TOBIN: They're also sometimes referred to as the first prominent actor who identifies as gender non-binary. And they're amazing, and we're so excited they came in the studio to talk to us.
KATHY: Just so we start off with everybody on the same page, what is the difference between “gender non-binary” and “gender non-conforming”? Like, are they interchangeable?
KATHY: No, okay.
ASIA: So gender non-binary is a gender identity falling outside the boxes of man and woman.
ASIA: Gender non-conforming means that you present yourself in a way that is contrary to a stereotypical gender expression.
ASIA: Meaning, you were assigned female at birth, you identify as a woman, but you have short hair, you know. You wear a motorcycle jacket, jeans, whatever it is, right.
KATHY: “I am.” [TOBIN LAUGHS]
ASIA: I mean literally -- we could even just say like you’re a person who’s assigned female at birth, who is -- who identifies as a woman who wears pants. I mean, in theory, that’s gender non-conforming because you’re wearing an article of clothing that was designed at first primarily for men.
ASIA: And so, someone who was assigned male at birth who identifies as a man who is wearing a dress and makeup -- it doesn’t make them anything other than what they say they are but that is certainly a gender non-conforming way of expressing one’s self outwardly.
KATHY: Okay, so one is specifically an expression.
ASIA: One is specifically an expression and one is an identity.
KATHY: Got it.
TOBIN: Um, well, you had a thing you wanted to say.
KATHY: Yes. It’s a thing that I have a hard time with as like -- as we were doing prep and research for this interview, I kept using the wrong pronouns and then mentally slapping myself into place.
ASIA: Well, let me offer that I misgender myself still.
ASIA: So, having spent so many years allowing other people to refer to me as “she” or “her,” and referring to myself as she or her before I began to understand the difference between gender identity and assigned sex, I will still -- particularly if I’m in a space where I may feel unsafe … which I acknowledge is a privilege I hold -- being someone assigned female at birth who can say, “Okay, it’s safer actually for me to say ‘she’ or ‘her’ now.”
ASIA: I’m moving away from that more and more.
ASIA: But it is something that happens subconsciously, where I’ll be talking about myself and I’ll say “she” or “her” and then I go, I mean the- them, me. [KATHY LAUGHS GENTLY] So -- so I would just say that like if I beat myself up every time I did that to myself --
ASIA: -- I mean it just wouldn’t be helpful. So I would advise the same to anyone who misgenders someone by accident. You’re making a mistake that is unintentional and so I don’t think there’s a reason to beat yourself up. If you found yourself doing it on purpose over and over again, then I might say, like, “You need to check yourself,” you know?
ASIA: And, like, why you’re doing that, actually.
TOBIN: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting too, though, because of -- you know -- you have this "first" title around your role. You’re oftentimes put in this position of expert. And I’m thinking about, like, we both watched the Ellen interview and were like, "Oh my god, they are being so patient with Ellen right now!"
[CLIP] ELLEN: And -- and -- you prefer to be referred to as "they" or "them"?
ASIA: Mhm. I use the singular "they," "them," "their" pronouns.
ELLEN: Okay. Um, and -- because you don't -- uh -- but is it -- is it ... if someone says "she" because you were born a female --
ASIA: I was assigned female at birth, yes.
ELLEN: -- and you are female, but you don't choose to identify that way ...
TOBIN: And I wonder about that. Like, in your position when people come to you as this expert, is that a lot of pressure? And are there things you feel like you’re still figuring out?
ASIA: Well, I certainly feel like we’re all still figuring it out every day. Whatever "it" may be. And, um ... I ... you know, whether other people put me in the position of being sort of an expert or a figurehead, or I put myself there, it is a position that I’m comfortable in. And I really wanna give Ellen credit for allowing herself to be the person in the position who said, like, "I don’t know a lot about this, and I need you to help me understand," because Ellen is, you know, the microcosm of her audience, right?
ASIA: She’s able to represent -- and I mean this in a loving way -- but whatever the larger ignorance is, right? We’re all ignorant of what we’re ignorant of 'til we’re not anymore. And there’s a difference between ignorance and willful ignorance. So I think watching Ellen admit ignorance and then learn in the moment, as you saw, is really powerful because it allows other people to go, “Oh gosh, it’s okay that I don’t know. And I can still learn.” And that’s cool too.
KATHY: Got it. And when did you start thinking about your gender identity?
ASIA: I’ve thought about it my whole life. Um ... Anywhere I encountered a binary. Whether it was, you know, girls wear pink and boys wear blue or ... whatever the binaries are that we’re all taught from a very young age. But I didn’t -- I wasn’t able to say certainly when I was young, like, "I’m not a boy or a girl." I did not have that language at that time. And I think -- it was a couple of years ago, maybe 3 years ago. I encountered a performer named Taylor Mac, who uses any number of pronouns from performer to Judy to ... I mean, Taylor’s very creative in what Taylor uses and I just thought, "Huh, that’s a person who has some autonomy about their identity in a way that I never thought or knew that I could." And I will say, like, I mean, the amount of times that I listen to -- let’s say a Buddy Holly song -- where it’s a boy talking about a girl. And I always thought, "Gosh, I want -- I wanna be the girl but I also wanna be the boy -- but I also feel like neither and both and what’s -- why can’t there just be people being people?" That’s a predominant feeling I’ve certainly had for a very long time.
TOBIN: So it sounds like it was kind of a quiet process.
TOBIN: There wasn’t a declarative moment for you.
ASIA: Well I will say, the declarative moment that exists is the one when I read the breakdown for Taylor on Billions and it said “female, non-binary.” And I thought, "How can the -- aren’t those the same? Like, I don’t -- I literally don’t understand."
ASIA: "How can you be female but then non-bi- isn’t female binary? Like, I just didn’t get it."
ASIA: And then after doing the research, you know. I just realized, "Oh, like, I can have been assigned a sex at birth and that doesn’t mean my gender identity has to conform with that."
KATHY: What was that moment like for you to -- to be researching that and understanding that is about yourself?
ASIA: Profound. Freeing. Life changing. Um. And a moment that was -- I will say scary, but -- but exciting. Scary because I felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice for the first time that I had never been standing on the edge of. But I was also like -- but I know that I can jump and I won’t fall. I’ll actually fly for the first time.
KATHY: For people that haven’t seen Billions, can you just describe Taylor really quickly for us?
ASIA: Sure. So Taylor starts out as an intern at Axe Capital, who -- they’re a financial whiz, and they’re really interested in just seeing, sort of, how far they can take their skills.
[CLIP] TAYLOR: What about a week-to-week deal?
BOBBY: Done. I'll prorate the million, nineteen thousand --
TAYLOR: Nineteen thousand, two hundred and thirty and seventy-seven cents.
BOBBY: Hourly, one hundred --
TAYLOR: One hundred and fourteen, forty-eight cents.
BOBBY: -- forty-eight cents.
ASIA: Watching Taylor navigate, you know, the morally and ethically murky world of finance as person who has a very strong moral center. And as someone who -- you know, because Taylor is non-binary, because they’re vegan -- we might think, like, "Oh, Taylor is like the righteous character who we expect to, you know, have a real problem with Bobby Axelrod." And what we see is actually that Taylor is figuring out how to feel okay with, um, doing the things that they’re doing.
KATHY: Yeah, I -- I am worried about Taylor. [TOBIN LAUGHS]
ASIA: Yeah. You don’t want Taylor to go to the dark side, so to speak.
ASIA: So to speak.
KATHY: Exactly. So recently there’s been a lot of talk about award shows.
TOBIN: There always is!
ASIA: Mhm. It’s award season, baby. Yeah.
KATHY: Can -- can you tell us a little bit about the story of the -- the Emmy. I don’t know what the noun to go with that is. I don’t wanna say "kerfuffle," but…
KATHY: Hullaballoo, hullaballoo.
ASIA: I love the word hullaballoo. [KATHY LAUGHS] So basically, Showtime decided, amazingly, that the wanted to submit me for a nomination --
KATHY: As they should.
ASIA: -- in the supporting category.
KATHY: As they should.
TOBIN: Rightfully so.
ASIA: Oh my gosh thank you. [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH] And -- and so they -- so Showtime was like, "Oh, 'actor' or 'actress'? Hm, we don’t know -- we don’t actually know what Asia would pick." So they reached out to me, and they said, "You know, we we’d like to submit you and we would like to know how you’d like to be submitted." Now this was not the first time that I’d thought about the binary that exists in awards shows. But it was certainly the first time like I felt -- that I felt like I had an opportunity to ... I don’t know, engage in the conversation in a different way because of the visibility I have now. And so I actually was like, "I don’t -- I don’t know how to answer that question because I don’t have enough information. I don’t know what the words 'actor' and 'actress' mean to the Academy." I know what they mean to me, so I wrote this letter to the television Academy just asking them, like, "What do these words mean to you? And if these words are in reference to identity or anatomical sex regardless of what they’re in reference to, why are they in reference to anything at all? Why are we still using these words?" And the Academy got back to me right away saying, you know, "Whatever the reason is, the rules have actually always stated that any performer can enter either category for any reason."
KATHY & TOBIN: Ooh!
ASIA: Actually. So I went, "Oh, that’s really interesting. Well then, because 'actor'" -- when I’m given the choice I use the word actor, because it is a non-sexed, non-gendered word --
ASIA: -- so I was like, "Well that’s the word I’ll go with." And also choosing between "actor" or "actress" is where we’re at right now. And it was based on what the Emmy board said, that any performer could choose either category for any reason, that I felt comfortable actually making a decision between the two. But -- and in terms of what can happen in the future or the way this will lead to a larger conversation about the inherent sexism and misogyny that has existed in Hollywood since it began, you know, I’m excited for -- for the directions that those conversations are going.
TOBIN: I just wanna point out it’s hilarious that we both reacted as if that pertained to us in any way.
KATHY: I know.
TOBIN: We both ooh’d as if --
ASIA: You literally both like, "Aha!"
KATHY & TOBIN: Ooh!
TOBIN: We can submit ourselves
KATHY: Yeah, we can - yeah.
TOBIN: in any -- [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH]
ASIA: Well but I -- I mean, I think it does bring up an interesting point though. Which is that, like, you know, we have unequal pay in Hollywood because we have actors and actresses.
ASIA: And I’m not saying that people shouldn’t identify as an actress if they want to in their life. But that that binary exists in a way that makes us unequal.
TOBIN: So I know, like, when I came out as gay, or came out as queer, there’s like a -- once you have the language for understanding yourself, there is sort of like a recasting process of memories where you sort of go back and you’re like, "Oh! That’s what was going on there."
TOBIN: Like, "I get it now." Did you have that experience when you were starting to realize you know this aspect of yourself?
ASIA: Yeah, I think I came out as bi, then gay, then bi again, then queer, then I eventually I was with a woman and then I fell in love with a man and I just went, "God, fuck it! I don’t -- I’m whatever. I’m pansexual, I’m attracted -- I have the ability to be attracted to anyone, anything and have been and you know." So I think me struggling with my sexual orientation was actually me struggling with my gender identity and not understanding that. Because I was going, "Am I woman that likes women? Am I man that likes women? Am I a man that likes men? Am I ..." Like, finally it was like, "Oh, I’m just always -- I’ve just always been a person that liked people." And I think if it’d had the language or understanding about my gender identity earlier ... I mean, I can only speak in hindsight, but I feel like my sexual orientation journey would have been very different, because I would have innately just had an understanding that, like, I was a person and I didn’t need to categorize myself in order to figure out what my sexual orientation was.
KATHY: And I’ve also found that a lot of people take comfort in labels and there’s some people that don’t.
KATHY: And it’s figuring that out for yourself too.
ASIA: Right. It’s like labels are really helpful. I mean I’m -- I’m a perfect example of that. The labels of female and non-binary being right next to each other led to a profound self-examination and self-discovery for me. But I also know that labels are helpful when they are self-generated. It is only when other people label us without our permission that it becomes damaging. And so I think just acknowledging that like, "It’s okay for me to label myself whatever I wanna label myself. But you don’t get to tell me who I am."
KATHY: Um, I wanna ask about Orange is the New Black.
TOBIN: Yeah go for it.
ASIA: Do it! Do it, do it, do it!
KATHY: Because I’m such a huge fan. [ALL THREE LAUGH]
[CLIP] BRANDY: First the Dominicans take the TV room. Now the Blacks are controlling the movies.
KATHY: What’s it like to play a neo-Nazi in this political climate? [KATHY LAUGHS]
ASIA: Uh … hmm. Challenging. I mean, challenging is really the best word for it. It … it gives me great insight into, particularly right after the election, why -- why people are supporting 45. Why, you know the white lower class in middle America felt so left behind and disenfranchised by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, frankly, before the election and still do. Brandy operates from a place of fear. Deep, deep fear of whatever -- of whatever it is. And so I think playing a character who comes from a place of fear -- like I said, gave -- has given me great insight and understanding ... and I would even say compassion for, as I said, the difference between ignorance and willful ignorance. I think that Brandy is willfully ignorant in a lot of ways but I also think she’s just ignorant. Like she’s super -- Brandy is super smart and she’s super well read. She’s just read all the wrong books.
KATHY: And is there anything you can tell us -- just a little bit?
ASIA: [AFFIRMATIVE] Uh-huh.
KATHY: Just a nugget.
ASIA: So, I will say that, without giving away any spoilers, my character of Brandy ... for anyone who wanted to see more of Brandy in Season 4, they’re gonna -- they’re gonna be happy with season 5.
KATHY: Oh, great!
TOBIN: Also now that you’ve played a neo-Nazi and sort of, like, a super whiz kid,
ASIA: What’s next?
TOBIN: Yeah! What are you itching to play next?
ASIA: Oh man um…I mean - I’d love to do a period film. Any any period of time whether it’s in the past or in the future. I love science fiction. I’ve said this a couple times cause I really believe in the power of manifestation and putting things out into the universe. I’d like to learn jiu-jitsu. I’d like to learn parkour. And I would --
KATHY: Me too!
ASIA: Dude, right?
ASIA: Like, parkour --
TOBIN: Oh, I’m gonna hard disagree on this. [KATHY AND ASIA LAUGH] Just a hard pass.
ASIA: Well I just feel like parkour, like ... the apocalypse is coming in one way or another [KATHY LAUGHS] and like we have to be able to get out and parkour, I just feel like, is gonna be a really good way to be like, "Oh, the bridge is blocked by thousands of cars? I’m just gonna, like, grab one other person and run over all these cars."
[SUSPENSEFUL PARKOUR MUSIC COMES IN]
KATHY: I got this. Yeah! Yeah. Don’t need the extra flips, just need to get from point A to B --
ASIA: Yeah. I’m not trying to --
KATHY: -- as quick as possible.
ASIA: -- I’m not trying to like District B13 this stuff.
KATHY: Yeah. No, I get you, I get you. Yeah.
ASIA: You know what I mean?
TOBIN: I had not thought of it in that context, and I am convinced parkour --
ASIA: You need to start parkour lessons right now.
TOBIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[MUSIC PLAYS UP AND OUT]
TOBIN: Where do you find community for yourself?
[NANCY MIDROLL MUSIC IN]
GUEST 1: I'd say friends from school and church.
GUEST 2: My neighborhood. Very family-oriented. Lots of -- if you don't have children, you at least have a dog.
GUEST 3: The park is a community in itself!
GUEST 4: You're listening to Nancy! We'll be back after these messages.
[NANCY MUSIC OUT]
TOBIN: Okay, Nancy listeners, before we jump back in, we need your help with something. We're working on a segment about first dates, and we are looking for hot tips.
KATHY: Hot tips!
TOBIN: We know you've got 'em.
KATHY: What's your best advice for going on a first date?
TOBIN: Like, what do you do to make the most out of your first meet-up with, say, Mr. or Mrs. Tinder?
KATHY: What are you wearing?
TOBIN: Do you Facebook-stalk to find their three favorite bands so you can casually bring it up on the date.
KATHY: [UNDER HER BREATH] Ooh, that is very specific, Tobin.
TOBIN: [WHISPERING] It is, but it's good! [NORMAL VOICE] Anyway, record us a voice memo, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you may hear yourself on a future episode.
KATHY: This isn't for me, though ... ?
TOBIN: Uhh ... [WHISPERING] It is. [NORMAL VOICE] Anyway, we love hearing from you! Send us your tips.
TOBIN: So this next story started back when we read this article about a woman named Tina Healy.
KATHY: She's from Australia, she's a parent, and she's trans.
TOBIN: And we were drawn to Tina for a couple reasons. But there's something particular to her story that actually has some interesting parallels to your story, Kathy, about coming out to your mom.
KATHY: Yeah, because sometimes once just isn't enough.
[SOFT MUSIC IN]
TINA: My first awaking as trans is when I was 4. Mum and dad had friends around and my siblings thought they would play a practical joke, and Mum was seamstress and she had a flower girl dress. I think it was … they dressed me in it. They thought it would be a great practical joke, and they said, "Go on, run out which I did." Then everyone had a laugh and then they said, "Okay, that'll do.” I was like, "No!" I mean, they couldn’t catch me. [LAUGHS]
I grew up in the '60s in Australia. I was brought up a conservative Catholic. There were no words to describe the feelings that you had. I knew I felt female, but what you do with that, it was really like … and you very quickly learn that you can’t talk about it.
It’s like if you’re listening to a symphony Orchestra and one of the trumpets is playing a bit flat all the way through it. It’s like something feels wrong. Yeah, I guess you might say in the beautiful music of my early family life there’s just this off note that doesn’t sound right all the way through.
So when I met Tess -- when I was about 18, 19 -- we were talking about getting married and it was important to me that she knew that I had issues with gender. So we talking about it but again it’s in that era, where we just sort of thought, "Oh, I can beat this!" I’m in my idealistic 20s and it was almost like an illness I had. And I thought, "I can do this, I can beat this." So we got married. But all through the marriage, this is something that doesn’t go away. It just comes back and it comes back and comes back and comes back.
... And the pressure would build. It build and build and build and build. Eventually you would need to dress female and that was hard for Tess ... and then I would feel a bit sad about that afterwards and then I would stop. And then you know, 6 months, 12 months later I would do it again and the same thing would happen.
TINA: [ECHOING] It just comes back and it comes back and comes back and comes back.
I mean, Mum is -- Mum’s an extraordinary person. I mean she … people used to say that if you gave Mum a brick, she would wrap a blanket around it and try to nurture it, you know? [LAUGHS] She’s just beautiful.
Our dad died I think about 7 years ago ... and as a family we realized that dad had been covering for Mum’s dementia. We didn’t realize that it had sort of developed as it had. Tess and I actually moved in to look after Mum for about a year and half.
And, um, by moving in to look after Mum, it put me back into the family home. So all the memories and feelings of when I was a child became sharper again. I think too there’s a sense of when you into your 50s, it’s like, well, you start looking at the rest of your life, and you think, “Well, okay, well, I’ve raised my children, and I’ve done the right thing as much as I can by my partner and my family” and it’s like I think you get to a point where you go, "Yeah, well, what about me? I mean ... What about the rest of my life? What I’m I going to do?”
I started to get very sad about the idea of living male the rest of my life. I became chronically depressed, and in the end, it’s either come out, or, um ... or I don’t want to live.
I sat down, and talked to Tess one day, and just said, “Look things are really black, they’re really dark, I have to come out.” And, um, to her credit, she just gave me a kiss and a big hug and she said, “Okay," you know, she said, "I’ll support you.”
And Mum was in a home at that point. So, y'know, I went down as a Chris, which is my former male name. We did it early in the morning because she is always better in the mornings, and I just kept it very simple. I didn’t over complicate it.
Mum listened for a little while she said, “Was there anything I could have done about it?” I said, “No. Nah, it’s just one of those things.” She said, “Oh," she said, "So you’re happy?" I said, “Oh yeah,” I said, “Mum, I’m fine.” She said, “Well, what do you know?” She said, “I’ve got a beautiful new daughter.” [LAUGHS] I started to cry and she said, “Aww, come here love.” And she pulled my head to her chest and to her shoulder and -- and I started crying.
You know, Mum was a beautiful seamstress and she used to make all the wedding dresses for … half of Melbourne, I reckon.
So after a little bit she got me by the shoulders and she pulled me back and looked at me. She said, “Now," she said, "You’re going to need clothes, what do you want?” The funny thing was she had forgotten how to sew 10 years ago. [LAUGHS]
I felt loved and accepted for the first time.
At that stage, just early stage dementia, she’d remember something, and I’d refresh her memory and she’d go, “Oh, that’s right!”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “Sit here”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “You happy, love?”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “I want you right next to me.”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “Oh good.”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “By God, you look like my cousin Molly.”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “Oh,” she said, “why didn’t you tell me love, I wouldn’t have minded.”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “You’ve told me this before, haven’t you?” [AS TINA] I go, “Yeah.”
She says, "I love you son." And then she stopped and she said, "Oh, I said the wrong thing, didn't I?" And I said, "No," I said, "That's ok. I know what you mean." She said, "Oh, that's right," she said, "No," she said, "You're my beautiful daughter."
So it continued on like that. But, I mean, dementia, it’s a progressive thing and so each time --
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] "Oh, that’s right!”
TINA: -- she could only hold it for a shorter and shorter time.
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “You’re Chris, aren’t you?”
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] "I said the wrong thing, didn't I?"
TINA: [AS TINA'S MOTHER] “You’ve taught me this before, haven’t you?” I go, “Yeah.”
TINA: It’s changed. I mean, I had one experience recently about two months ago. I went to see her and she couldn't really retain the concept of who I was ... And so we just had a nice visit. And, you know, we had a lovely conversation and as I was walking out the door to go she said, "Oh, come here." And, uh, she tucked my blouse into my skirt and then she said, "Love you, son." [LAUGHS] And it was a gift.
But, uh, just recently, I could see that she couldn’t hold it anymore. She couldn’t remember it at all. I was crying as I came out of the home, and I said, "Ahh, that’s it, it’s not fair anymore, it’s not fair on her anymore. That's enough. It’s -- it's time to let go."
When she first accepted me and loved me for who I was, it was like being born again. She sort of birth me into the world twice.
When I see her, I just love her, I just love her, and I know she doesn’t know who I am. But she loved me unconditionally, it’s time for me to love her unconditionally too.
AVA: [UNINTELLIGBLE] ... grandma!
TINA: Oh, okay! Alright! See you later, alligator!
[SLOW REFLECTIVE MUSIC IN]
TINA: The best part of my life -- the best part of my life is my -- my children and my grandchildren. I just, I love being a grandma. It’s just the best thing in the whole wide world. You know like, I was around at my other son's place the other day, and she’s -- my granddaughter there is about 2. I could hear James say from the other side of the door, “Ava, guess who’s here?” He opened the door and she looked up the hallway into the kitchen. A little face appeared around the corner from the kitchen and lit up with a big smile. She said, "Mamaw!" And she came running down the hallway, and I was like … I thought, I’m happy. I am so happy. Y’know?
JESS WALTON: Yeah.
KATHY: Tina's daughter, Jess Walton, published a children's book to to help kids understand what it means to be transgender. It's called Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship, and it's fantastic.
[CREDITS MUSIC STARTS]
TOBIN: That's our show! Nancy is on Facebook and Twitter. We are @NancyPodcast both places.
KATHY: Follow us to find out about our live videos every Wednesday afternoon! Alright, credits!
TOBIN: Our producer...
KATHY: Matt Collette!
TOBIN: Sound designer...
KATHY: Jeremy Bloom!
KATHY: Jenny Lawton!
TOBIN: Executive producer...
KATHY: Paula Szuchman!
TOBIN: We had production help this week from Samara Breger. I'm Tobin Low.
KATHY: I'm Kathy Tu.
TOBIN: And Nancy is a production of WNYC Studios.
[CREDITS MUSIC ENDS]
KATHY: How ya doin', Tobin?
TOBIN: [SOUTHERN ACCENT] I'm tired!