Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trans* Faces #2: Ryan Cassata: One World...One Love...One Community

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

Ryan Cassata began making headlines in the LGBTQ community, when in 09, he appeared on the Larry King show, interviewed by Dr. Drew, with his mom. The young musician and public speaker had begun telling his story of gender identity disorder to his generation. Ryan became more vocal about speaking out against bullying. He began touring the United States, playing at LGBT Pride and music festival and on June 21st of 2013, Ryan performed at the Warped Tour’s Ernie Ball’s Battle of the Bands, which was part of an online competition. 

It was during that competition drive to get your fans and followers on popular social media to vote for you to play in the acclaimed tour, that I saw a post by Ryan Cassata to his base to vote for him; read his story, his views on being a transgender teen in America and then listened to his music. After hearing the first song, I quickly backspaced and voted for this outspoken John Lennon of our generation. I went back to hearing more of his songs on his you tube page and quickly decided to make him a celebrity to watch and kept the Transmuseplanet community updated on his progress.

To this day, when I hear his song ‘Hands of Hate’, sung by a teen aged transgendered male with such passion and recent experiences with hate, that I couldn't help but be boiled over by the end in tears. Knowing what many LGBTQ people over the years have endured during those turbulent high school years, and to know in a way, it may have actually gotten worse for so many young TQBGL youth who have decided to end their lives rather than endure one more day.

 To follow this young man is to notice a young man, recently himself tormented by gender identity and bullying, that he is fighting tooth and nails for others not to suffer in such a way and to be totally inspired by his drive and determination to see a world respected and united. The momentum behind Ryan Cassata, his music and his mission, is building at neck break speed, with followers and fans now in the hundred of thousands. He has begun with his own launch of clothing that can be purchased at ryancassatamusic.bigcartel.com, appearing in media outside of the U.S, now going global and many, like 91.5 FM WRPI have said about him “Who needs a boy band,when you got a guy like this? It’s Ryan Cassata.” Not far from the Truth, Ryan Cassata is fast becoming a trademark brand with actual talent, a purpose and a message of peace, respect and one world love for all mankind.

I had to grab this young man quickly before only the new Royal baby will be able to have a second of his time and get TMP and friends a moment to get to know the fascinating Ryan Cassata a little better.

TMP:  Ryan, you have done so many positive things in the world at such a young age. What drives you to want to make a difference in the world?

          Ryan Cassata: Thank you.  There is so much ignorance and hatred that can be cured with tolerance. There's a lot of hate towards the LGBTQ community. I think it would be crazy if I just sat back and let all that hate continue. The time is now to stand up and get things moving towards equality and a better future.

TMP: When you were just out of high school, at a time when most Cis-kids are just thinking about enjoying their summer before college, you were being awarded the Harvey Milk Memorial Award in 2011. What did such an honor mean to you and what advice would you give to other Trans-kids who are fighting for equality?
          Ryan Cassata: Thank you. When I first started changing things in my high school, I was changing things in order to make things easier for myself. I had to change certain things so that I could survive high school. I skipped 11th grade; during my senior year, I made it my mission to educate my peers and teachers, so they could pass on the message of acceptance. I wanted  my school to accept transgender students by the time I ended school. I knew that if I worked really hard, I could make a difference and make it so much easier for someone else whose transgender that would come along and walk the hallways of my school after me. I did make it easier and I won the Harvey Milk Memorial Award upon graduating high school. This was very symbolic;  I was following in his footsteps and doing good in the world. I started doing a lot of volunteer work in the eighth grade. My advice to other people who want to make a difference is to get involved. Volunteer at your local center and if you don't have one or can't volunteer for them, then speak out at your school. I used do speeches for the Long Island center and I also did speeches and educating within and outside of my school...on my own. It became my mission as a young teen to change things and I did.

TMP: I've been listening to your music for weeks since we first spoke and I have to say there is not a song that don't make me feel more inspired and hopeful about the world. It's often sometimes, hard for a Trans-person to stay so hopeful about things, faced with so much discrimination and hate. How do you turn pain into hope and make such inspiring music?

           Ryan Cassata: I always try to find the good in things and in people. I think everyone has a little bit of good and a little bit of love in their heart. I think with education it is easier to make people understand minorities. When you change your perspective to hope, life will be much more positive.

TMP: When did you start performing and writing music?
             Ryan Cassata:  I was singing and making up songs all though out my childhood.  I started actually like, writing music down on a piece o paper and playing it again later when I was about 12. I started guitar at 6 years old, piano at 12, and I started singing seriously at 14. I had my first performance when I was about 13. My first band was  called "The Fenetiks." When that band broke up, I started playing out solo and I loved it.
TMP: You have done many television appearances and interviews for countless main stream magazines. Is there one that stands out as being the most positive moment for you...whose show and why?
               Ryan Cassata: One of my favorite media moments was being interviewed by Long Island Pulse Magazine. They were so open to being educated about the transgender community and they actually cared about what I was doing,my speeches and my music. They didn't make a being Trans*, a 'freak show.'  They treated me as a normal person and they wrote an incredible article about me. It's my favorite so far.
TMP: Your revolutionary spirit is very contagious, but many are bogged down in just trying to survive. Any suggestions on things we all could do in our everyday lives that could make a difference towards spreading universal respect and equality?
           Ryan Cassata: Smile more. Smile at strangers. Go out and do good. Volunteer. Be nice to others.
TMP: What are your hopes and dreams for the Transgendered community and for all of mankind?
          Ryan Cassata: I hope the community will become less depressed and that the suicide rate will decline. I want the transgender community to be seen as another group of people and not a taboo. I want society to accept us.
TMP: You seem to have so many projects going on at the moment. Anything in particular you’d really like the readers of Transmuseplanet to check out, that you are currently working on?
        Ryan Cassata: Right now I am working on starting a chest binder fundraiser to raise money for 'IN A BIND'.   More info about this will be released soon.
TMP:  Tell us about your latest EP.
       Ryan Cassata: My upcoming EP will be released on September 13th on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. It has eight songs. It's a very deep album and I am hoping many people will listen and learn from it.
TMP:  I often believe that much of the time we can become complacent in our immediate surroundings and may not have a full feel of how life on the road is for a Transgender person. Since your touring all over the country, what is your assessment of the level of understanding and support for the Transgender Community?
     Ryan Cassata: So far, San Francisco is the most tolerant and accepting place that I have been too. I feel safe here. I don't feel safe on the east coast or in my hometown.
TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world and knew everyone would hear you at once. What would you like them to know about Ryan Cassata?
    Ryan Cassata: I want to change the way society thinks, to be more accepting of the LGBTQ community and to other minorities. I will do anything to spread awareness about this and make peace come sooner.
Ryan Cassata is definitely a man on a mission to uplift mankind. He is not only an inspiration but a hopeful clue of the Trans-genderation that is growingly stepping up to claim their position on the stage of those who seek equality for all. He is a reminder of what we all fight for and a message to Cisgendered heterosexual society that enjoys the privilege of just being able to be a teenager, enjoy those years, plan for college and live happily ever after, that many TQBGL teenagers are fighting just for their right to live and to be.
To change the world,  maybe is what every teenager faces. From the world of the old that wanted to do so, since as far as man could imagine, but never before is the call to make that change such a necessity for so many innocent lives, just trying to have some happiness in the world. Cassata is an example to all TQBGL people who want to see a different world tomorrow than they see today. He is more than anything; a positive example of a human being who thinks beyond the “I” and what “I” can acquire, as our national culture seems at times to be. A human’s life should stand for something, make a difference in the world and sweep the path of life, clearer for those who follow.

Like Anne Frank who said, "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." Like Ryan, they give us all hope that one day we see that good.
More links to Ryan Cassata

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