|Lucas Silveira was named Sexiest Man of the Year by Canada’s Chart Attack magazine (Photo courtesy Lucas Silveira)|
I once had sex with a pre-op tranny, a she-male, a chick with a dick, if you will, and it was a complete and utter mindfuck.
But it took that night for me to understand things I never did before. Like the pre-op transwoman who fucked me that night never identified as a gay male before beginning her transition because she always identified as a straight woman.
Another transwoman I know still sleeps with women, not because she "became" a lesbian but because she always was a lesbian.
So it’s been strange watching how trans politics have transfixed America over the last few years, from transgendered male Thomas Beatie – who has given birth to three children since 2008 and was recognized in 2010 by Guinness World Records as the world’s ‘First Married Man to Give Birth’ – to Chaz Bono making international headlines on the reality TV show Dancing With The Stars.
Right-wing pundits are still having a transphobic meltdown. During his 15 minutes, Beatie was called an "androgynous freak show" on a David Letterman Top 10, and Beatie duly visited with a slack-jawed Oprah. This year, ABC officials became so worried about Chaz Bono’ssafety both on and off the Dancing With The Stars studio lot, TMZ reports, that Bono was put on 24-hour protection leading up to the show.
Personally, I was horrified when my friend Dr. Margaret Somerville, founder of McGill’s world-renowned Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, was quoted by the London Daily Telegraph chastising Beatie: “You’re a woman and you’re having a baby. Just because you put on a clown suit doesn’t mean that you don’t still exist underneath.”
Then a couple years ago I was blabbing with Lucas Silveira, transman and frontman of one of the finest rock bands to ever come out of Canada, The Cliks. Silveira has just released his debut solo album Mockingbird and headlines my buddy Maggie Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret in Toronto on November 26.
“Growing up sucked,” Lucas says. “It was extremely confusing. I didn’t have the language for it. I was 3 or 4 when I realized it – when I saw my brother’s wiener and I asked my mother when I was going to get one too. ‘When are you going to buy me one?’ Now I’ve bought a few!”
That doesn’t mean life, or sex, is no longer a mindfuck.
“[My transition] is as complete as it’s going to get,” explains Lucas, who is currently writing his memoirs which will be published by Random House. “At this point [physically I’m] going to stay [this] way because I don’t want to risk it. But transitioning mentally, I don’t like being called ‘she’ and having to pull myself out of my body every time.”
If Lucas’s identity is a problem for some, it most certainly isn’t for fans of The Cliks, including comic Margaret Cho, who says, “No one else can inspire such crushed-out admiration and full-on rock star screaming. I thought those embarrassing fangirl days were long gone for me, but The Cliks have brought them back with a vengeance!”
“She wants to kiss every time she sees me!” laughs Lucas.
Cyndi Lauper is also such a big fan she invited The Cliks to co-headline her 2007 True Colors Tour (a Vans Warped-style tour to raise money to fight for gay civil rights).
And Ian Astbury of The Cult loved Lucas and the band so much he invited them to open The Cult’s cross-Canada tour, which I saw them wind down with a truly massive concert at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre in April 2008.
Gives new meaning to riding the Trans Canada Highway, no?
“[My] audiences are a mixed bag of queer and straight,” Lucas says. “It started off more on the queer side since that originally was our major source of media coverage. Now we’ve got people of colour, moms, dads, trannies, queers and straight college kids.”
That’s because the alternative and mainstream press have finally come on board. After The Cliks conquered SXSW in Austin in 2007, The Boston Globe raved they “rock with primal, stylish ferocity reminiscent of the early Pretenders.”
Lucas adds, “The Austin Chronicle also got us a lot of attention and helped us stand out from the 1,300 bands that were there.”
The Cliks were invited back to SXSW in 2008 where they rocked The Dirty Dog. “The place is a dive but we kicked it!” Lucas says. “I love Austin. It’s rock’n'roll heaven. It’s like a rock’n'roll Pride. Music is blaring out from everywhere.”
Signed to Warner Records in Canada, The Cliks made history as the first band with an (overtly) transgender male leader to be signed by a major record label, Tommy Boy Entertainment’s gay-friendly imprint Silver Label, where their CD Snakehouse got raves. The band also transformed Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River into a rock anthem.
But the heart of the band remains unmistakably Lucas – which explains his new solo album Mockingbird, which includes covers of Leonard Cohen’s I'm Your Man and Kanye West’s Runaway.
So what’s it like being a posterboy for transmen?
“I think other people consider me that,” says Lucas, who was named Sexiest Man of the Year by Canada’s Chart Attack magazine in 2009. “I got little kids coming up to me all the time. One 15-year-old in Albany said if it wasn’t for The Cliks he wouldn’t feel normal. If I can help them, then I’ve made a difference and it’s all been worth it.”
Lucas continues, “I am a very political person, I just don’t tend to bring it in my songwriting. Just being transgendered is political enough. God bless whoever gave me this body.”
Lucas Silveira headlines Toronto’s Flying Beaver Pubaret on November 26. Purchase tickets by clicking here.