Interviewer:

 Mason Funk

Camera:

 Kate Kunath

Date:

 August 07, 2016

Location:

 Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC

Kylar William Broadus was born on August 28, 1963 in Fayette, Missouri. His parents—William, a truck driver, and Fannie, a supervisor of housekeeping—instilled in their children the importance of service to their community. Early on, Kylar experienced gender dysphoria. While his mother sought to protect her daughter by encouraging feminine mannerisms and dress, Kylar’s dad seemed to intuitively grasp that Kylar was, on some deep level, a boy.

While still presenting as female, Kylar made his first foray into politics while studying business administration at Central Methodist University, where he was elected student body president during his senior year. After earning his degree, Kylar earned his J.D. at the University of Missouri School of Law. This training prepared him to become a lawyer and professor, but it was the discrimination he faced after his gender transition that inspired him to also be an activist, public speaker, and writer.

In the mid-1990s, after informing his employer about his gender transition, Kylar’s work environment became increasingly unwelcoming and unsupportive. After being forced to resign, and having realized it was (and still is) completely legal in Missouri for his company to discriminate based on gender, Kylar began a long, committed journey to use the court system for his own protection and on behalf of other trans people. He helped develop federal, state and local protections for people regardless of their gender identity or gender expression. His many scholarly articles on transgender advocacy in family and employment law have fundamentally shaped academic and legal discussions of gender.

In 2010, Kylar founded the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) to fill a gap in the private and non-profit sectors. And in 2012, Kylar became the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

In 2011, in recognition of his many years of service, the National LGBTQ Task Force gave him the Sue J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement. That same year, Kylar received the Pioneer Award from the Freedom Center of Social Justice. Fittingly enough, OUTWORDS caught up with Kylar at the 2016 Lavender Law conference in Washington DC. Kylar was tired; but he opened his heart and mind wide to share the story of his personal and professional transformation into the man he wants to be – a man who has used the vaunted US court system to fundamentally alter the legal standing for transgender people in America.

Time Speakers Transcript Text
Mason Funk: How do you spell Kylar?
Kylar Broadus: K-Y-L-A-R.
Mason Funk: Okay. But you prefer to be identified as Kylar Broadus? Without the middle name?
Kylar Broadus: [00:00:30] Oh, no. The middle name is very important to me. It's my father's name and actually was my name to be given to me at birth, so I use the W. I don't always use William, so it's Kylar W. Broadus. That's why it's important to me, not because I'm being a pompous person.
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Great. Do me a favor and tell me when you were born and where, and of course you know the drill of complete sentences, so you'll to say, "I was born in ... " Tell me where you were born and when and kind of the family you were born into.
Kylar Broadus: [00:01:30] Okay. I was born in Fayette, Missouri in 1963. Actually, on August 28th, which was the historic march on Washington, on that very same day. To William and Fannie Broadus. I have one other old sister and a much older brother that my father had with another person, another female woman at that time. It was a small town, but it was a very diverse town in that we had proportionally more black people because when I grew up in America we were pretty much black and white. There were a few other races here, particularly in the Midwest, but the pre-domination of people that were here were black and white. That's where I grew up at.
Mason Funk: What was that town like? What kind of folks were your parents?
Kylar Broadus: [00:02:30] My folks were hard-working people and they ... Everybody talks about the Emancipation Proclamation and when slavery ended, but sadly they suffered lots of hate, subject to Jim Crow laws and suffered all the atrocities that were the new framing of slavery. My father was a World War II veteran, proud of that, but never got to exercise any of his GI benefits because he was a black American, and was not allowed to when he came back stateside. He was never foul about that. My parents always had a good attitude about everything and you just work hard and you will be rewarded someday.
They each had two jobs, and we worked with them. My first job came at five years old and I went with my father to his night job and I'll never forget I was so happy to be promoted from emptying the trash cans to cleaning the water fountain. I thought I had made it. We worked always and that's how we lived. Their lives focused on us and my mother, too. I always tell people I was a daddy's boy and a mother's boy and it's so true. Their lives focused on us.
Each of their eulogies ... They've both gone on. I was a late whoops-there-it-was child to them, but everybody will tell you we were their lives. They focused on us. They wanted to make our lives better than their lives. They edited out a lot of things they had experienced as black Americans in this country, but they taught us how to navigate this world as black Americans and that we were always going to be treated as second class citizens in this country, and to understand and know what that meant.
Mason Funk: Wow, so you were born on the day of the historic march. That was when Martin Luther King gave his I Have A Dream speech. Is that correct?
Kylar Broadus: [00:04:30] Yes. That's correct.
Mason Funk: But did your parents, would you say your parents, if they were teach ... Oh, that's your phone.
Kylar Broadus: Sorry I thought I turned it off.
Mason Funk: That's okay. It's okay. I think it's okay to buzz it over there? His phone is just vibrating.
Kate Kunath: Oh, we should turn it off.
Kylar Broadus: Yeah, please do. I thought I had turned it off.
Kate Kunath: [00:05:00] Maybe there's a way to ... I think you have to, in the settings I think you have to say-
Kylar Broadus: I'll just turn it off, because I don't know how to do ... Let me just turn it off. There we go.
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] I've never heard somebody say that, that their parents essentially taught them ... I've heard, recently in particular, heard a lot of stories about black parents telling their sons in particular, "You have to ... You're going to ... You have to mind your manners like nobody's business." But I never have heard it said just the way you said it, but your parents essentially taught you that you will always be a second class citizen in America. Can you expand on that?
Kylar Broadus: [00:06:00] Yes. My father would drive a truck across country and he couldn't go to the front door. He had to eat out of the back door. They weren't allowed... When I grew up, signs were still separate for restrooms. My sister went to a segregated school. I went to, I had the fortune of going to a desegregated school, but will remember an instance of going to town to her to ... When kids went to the drug store for entertainment and then going to the bathroom and then this woman putting her hand in my face, being a little kid, saying “you can't go there,” and me reading the signs.
They were labeled from Negro to White and then finally from Colored to White. So this distinct world, and these institutionalizations of racism in our country. That advice to me is proven true until this day. You see it. I've seen it in courtrooms. I see it everywhere. It's that unconscious bias that people carry with them, that we don't get. That's what we need to be heightened awareness of our own unconscious biasness. But yes, they taught me, yes, when an officer pulls you over, what you have to do and how clean you have to be as a black person not to be harassed by black people because their relation to police was not well, either, because police harass them just for being black.
Telling them when they could go home, chasing them home, and again my parents edited lots of their stories, but they told us enough that we got the understanding of yeah, you're always going to be targeted. You're always going to be targeted because of the race of your skin and you're always going to have to jump twice as high because the race of your skin. I found that all to be true for all my life.
Mason Funk: [00:08:00] Wow, okay. The Civil Rights Act and the I Have A Dream and the idea of America becoming, “Post-racial society,” you haven't seen any of that come true?
Kylar Broadus: [00:08:30] I have not seen a post-racial society yet and I don't know when that might come. Perhaps when I'm dead and gone, but there is no post-racial society, because we have a black president in office doesn't mean we're post-racial. I've seen actually more backlash and hatred because we have a black president in office. If we were post-racial, we would beyond that and thinking of other things to do. I think actually this election cycle shows there's such backlash to having a black president in office and the gridlock of congress shows and the lack of respect for the man while he was in office, where people don't even call him president, they call him Obama and then a former president comes and sits with him and they say, "Oh, a President so-and-so was here today and they met with Obama." You can count that just sitting and watching the a news cycle.
It's so blatant and it's so clear, and then people that don't want to managed by us, directed by us, or have input from us or because we talk about it, it becomes a game. You're playing a race card. There's no race card to be played. Racism is structurally in our system, systemically in our system. I don't think that's what the founders of this country had in mind either when it was formed. They came to be free. I think that was the intent, for everybody to be free in this country, but then somehow those seeds seeped in, and we found out we could use people as political capital for gain and we've continued to do that.
We've just found new ways to continue racism under separate but equal Jim Crow laws and we do the same thing with people we don't like are classifying, including LGBT people, which is same thing. I revisit the bathroom issue again. It's not unique to me because I was barred out of bathrooms and now I'm barred out of bathrooms again, so it's just like, "Really? Are you kidding me?" The most basic humane function a person-
Mason Funk: Sorry. I just got to check on this sound out here. I'm sorry.
Kylar Broadus: No problem.
Kate Kunath: [00:10:30] Sounds like a brawl.
Kylar Broadus: I know. I was like, "What the hell is going on?" Now there's a baby. I love children, don't get me wrong, but-
Mason Funk: It’s just a little bit of ... There's going to be some traffic outside.
Kylar Broadus: Okay.
Mason Funk: Were you hearing that?
Kate Kunath: Yeah.
Kylar Broadus: I did too, so-
Mason Funk: It might have just been a particularly loud couple talking and walking, but there was a session that seems to have just released. We'll just, we'll wait. We'll keep going.
Kylar Broadus: Okay.
Mason Funk: [00:11:00] But I didn't want to keep on going if the audio wasn't going to be usable.
Kylar Broadus: Make sense. You guys just tell me what to do and I'll ... We'll be good.
Mason Funk: Well, I just don't ... I wanted to finish that thought, but I forgot-
Kylar Broadus: Around separate bathrooms.
Mason Funk: Oh, right, right. Growing up and now.
Kylar Broadus: [00:11:30] Yeah, so growing up, knowing about separate bathrooms and having to use a separate bathroom and a separate water fountain because somebody had whatever thoughts in their head that they could become black from drinking after me, or catch something from after drinking to me. So then the same dilemma of being Trans and then the bathroom issue. Then, for me, there was just no curve, because I could just never use a public bathroom because then my girlfriend or wife would walk in and say, "Pre-transition I looked like this,"
She would say, "Okay, this is a woman, this is a woman,” and I'd walk in and they're like, “No that's a man." Then being accosted by police, having to be strip-searched and that's just not fun and it's very embarrassing and it happened lots of times to the point where you just hold it, and you don't use the public bathrooms anymore. I did that for years. You just don't use a public bathroom. How many people have to navigate their life around thinking, "I'm not going to use this bathroom or I'm going to go out to a nightclub,” because the last time was with corporate workers and I'll never forget.
We're out at a nightclub and I'm like, "Oh no, I'm not drinking anything." No water even, so I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom." Then finally I decided, the music's good, I'm in a nightclub, I'm going to have a drink and then I did. Then when I went to the bathroom doors and stood there and I was like, "Okay, what should I do?" They know on paper it says F, but ... I went to the women's room and again, police were called. I was so embarrassed in front of my corporate coworkers. I stripped buck naked and they were like, "Sir, get out of the women's room. You need to go to the men's room."
It's like, I could have just made that decision like 10 minutes earlier, just have gone to the men's room and avoided all of that, but that I had to go through all of that, which many Trans-people go through on a daily basis and it's just back to all of those separation of things. All I was going to do, was use the bathroom. Nothing else. Not attack anyone. I totally understand the need for women's safety and women do feel that need. Having had that F on my certificate, and understanding the dangers of women and the feeling in the bathrooms.
I understand that side of the coin too, but we have to figure out ways that we can educate and work together, and not have this whole bigotry around basic human essential rights and needs.
Mason Funk: [00:14:30] Great, great. Let’s back up a little bit. You've mentioned in writing and you've alluded to it today that pretty much from a very, very young age, not only did you not feel yourself to be female, but people didn't perceive you as female. Can you describe that in more detail for me?
Kylar Broadus: [00:15:00] Yeah, I just remember from my first memories. I'm like, when people would refer to me as a she-child, which I don't know when they say those memories come, but I was like, "What are they talking about?" So much of me wanted to regress and I had that whole issue or feeling between that three to six-year old age and then I remembered then, because I had what's now been diagnosed as typical trans-anger in those grades. Then they had my parents take me, my mother took me to a place, and they had no evaluation techniques for that then. Then I remember standing beside her and they say, "Oh, your child's just a mean child."
That was so devastating for me to hear, because I'm there hearing this and my parents believed in me and saw potential. Then I went to a good school district, so I had good teachers that believed in me and saw in me that, one, I didn't belong in special education, which is where they put all brown and black when they seem just to be trouble and two, that there was something more, so I just got engaged in other things. Then what I started to do was just hide behind work. Schoolwork and work-work, so I could just say, "Okay, there's just not going to be a me," and that I'm just going to pretend to play this part that everybody assumes I should play.
Which is this girl part after a certain part in the sixth or seventh grade and try to do that, which just was just not ... Those years I could just kind of wipe out. They were nothing for me.
Mason Funk: Sorry. I have to interrupt you again.
Kylar Broadus: The noise?
Mason Funk: I'm going to go see if I can do anything.
Kylar Broadus: Okay, no problem. No problem.
Mason Funk: [ 00:17:00] Basically you were talking about how one might say you were angry. You were feeling this kind of sense of erasure, maybe this would come out in ways. You were labeled and then you were put in special education classes. Just talk us through that period of maybe elementary school, when you were probably mostly just confused and ... I don't know. Just tell us, describe-
Kylar Broadus: Well, I felt innately-
Mason Funk: Tell me about what period you're talking about, please.
Kylar Broadus: [00:17:30] I felt innately who I was always, but then getting pipelined into school, I went to pre-school, because I tested and excelled, and that's what you did, and made a good group of friends so the gender wasn't as much of an issue at that point. Then when I integrated into kindergarten, actually racial issues played an issue also, because I was this high yellow kid with blonde hair, and race was a huge issue. It still is. We kind of forgot it was for a while somehow in this country and I don't know how we forgot that, but it was majorly an issue, because here I was and so I took a lot of heat for the race issue.
Then, I had this gender thing playing behind that race issue. Then that's when all the anger I think built up, so I matriculated to the first grade, I think with all the bright students, but then it was in the second grade because I began to act out, but there was some abuse going on, also by teachers that they put me in special education. Luckily I had a great second grade teacher, but also one day my father made a delivery to the school, and saw what was happening and so intervention occurred.
Mason Funk: What did he see?
Kylar Broadus: [00:19:00] He saw me being abused. Literally being abused. It wasn't any disciplinary action, because I had a teacher that just was doing that because there was a lot of racism. Again, the racism I found lots of times and even in my adult life precedes even people even knowing I'm Trans, because I've been in about being Trans. So wherever I am, a lot of times, sometimes, the racism precedes the being transgender.
That was going on, because I had a teacher that hid my coat in the closet and did crazy stuff like that, and then the principal would punish me and all these sorts of things. My parents were very strict, because they were not afforded the rights of an education in this country. They were denied that right, so for us to go, they were serious about us getting educations, and behaving at school, because what was at home was much worse at school if you did not behave. It was two, because black people believe in disciplining their children, so I was always compliant with the rules and what the rules were.
So these incidents happened and I kept telling my parents and then one day he walked in, and caught the teacher abusing me and taking me to the principal's office. I forget the exact event, but I do think it was around the coat-hiding event. Why would you hide a child's coat, and then create all this drama? That stuff was going on as well, and then that's when he, and he was a very man of few words, but he gave the few words to the principal then. For a black man in those days to step up in the 1960s to a white principal when schools really not having always been and still are desegregated.
I mind you, there are lots of cases still trying to segregate, settle segregation in school systems today, and tell him he did not want that to ever happen to his child again. Guess what? It never did, because my parents were engaged in the school. My mother was there for every teachers whatever, whatever. Then he told them that and then I never was again. Then I had a great second grade teacher that is like, "There is no way in the world you belong in special education," but of course any troubled brown or child went there. Brown or black child.
The trans-anger has been diagnosed, because trans-children act out and have anger and that's how they find out that Trans children are Trans early on, because there's a certain way we act out. My father became great cover for me, because my mother would lay out outfits, and then I just wouldn't wear those and she commuted and then I'd change them and he let me change them and never tell her the difference at the end of the day, to more masculine outfits.
I was very abused and beaten up, because my teachers then from the second to the fourth grade would re-sew me up every day because I got beaten up. Basically for being light-skin black and gender non-conforming.
Mason Funk: Why did your father ... How did he know to cover for you? Tell me about ... What sensibility did your father have that enabled him to do that?
Kylar Broadus: I don't know.
Kate Kunath: Just one note about your eye-line, because I can't tell ... I think maybe you're looking in the camera, so I don't know-
Kylar Broadus: [00:23:00] Oh I'm sorry. I tend to look everywhere and I tend to hide my eyes when I talk because I'm shy, so I'm sorry. I'll try to look at him, so that you can see my eyes. I tend to hide my eyes because I'm shy and I don't like being filmed, so that's my bad, so just call me on it.
Kate Kunath: As long as you're not looking into the-
Kylar Broadus: No, I'm actually not.
Kate Kunath: Okay, no I'm not. I'm actually looking down.
Mason Funk: Your father?
Kylar Broadus: It was just some innate sense he had.
Mason Funk: You mention that you were talking about your father.
Kylar Broadus: [00:23:30] That my father had. We had this innate unspoken sense, because I would go with him and my sister would on truck runs as well even on the weekend, because he would pick up whatever extra jobs he could get. It would be a short run on the weekend and we'd go with him. Even I would help, I don't know how I was helping as a five-year old, but I would help and he would want us to be engaged and they would say, "Oh, you brought your son with you today," and he'd say, "Yep," and he'd just keep it moving. Never bat an eye. Never pass a judgement.
That's what I just know about my father's side of my family. It's just always open and accepting. Even to my coming out story, which is so anticlimactic because there were no groups for me to fit in when I knew or decided who I was because there were just gay and lesbians, and I'm like, "Well, I'm neither one of those." But the closest thing I could identify with, because everybody's like, "Choose a group, choose a group, choose a group." I never really chose a group because that's why I hate titles and all those things.
But that I was attracted to women, so I was like, "Well, I guess I must be a lesbian," but I really wasn't a lesbian. There was so much different about me in the way I felt that I really was never a lesbian in my book.
Mason Funk: [00:25:30] Okay, great. Let me just check my list of notes here. You mentioned just now your father, people would say, "Oh, you brought your boy along," and he would say, "Yep," and that goes to this reality that ... I'm just listening to that, but this goes to this reality that just from a very early you essentially presented as male, or that people perceived you as male.
Kylar Broadus: Yeah. They just perceived me as male.
Mason Funk: Start off as a clean thought, so from a very early age, just start that way.
Kylar Broadus: [00:26:00] My energy just seemed to read male and it always has, no matter what I would be wearing. Even when my mother would try to dress me in those little dresses or whatever, it would be really embarrassing because my little cousin's first and second would come up to me and they'd be like, "Why are you wearing a dress? You're not ... " I never felt comfortable in those clothes, but I knew I was somewhere in, definitely not a girl, girl and it just never felt, that never felt right for me. I knew it felt right for me and comfortable. I would even be with both parents and that would happen, because I was their late child, like I said, their late last child, and people would say that and neither would generally say anything.
It wasn't kind of until I turned ... Then I didn't even know anything about Trans or anything, because the internet wasn't out there yet either. I found ... And then there were no people that looked my me, because all you say was Christine Jorgensen. You never saw the trans-masculine side either. We don't even know, the truth is, and I forget the name of the doctor, but he transitioned long before she did, that lived in the United States. There was this, this a trans-masculine doctor that did, who actually had sex reassignment surgery before she did, but we only saw the glamour of Christine Jorgensen. Then there was Renée Richardson that I remember, but none of that resonated to me.
Because I'm like, "Well, it must be only, because most, even the population now think it's only male-to-female people and not female-to-male people or people that just feel in the middle, because people don't have to be real binary. I just happened to have always been this way, literally, and so this is just me. I've always had that read, even when police would strip me, and then I remember after my father's death I had a gained huge chest from drinking beer. I own what I did, because I was very upset about his death because both my parents were very good parents, but my father was also my best friend. To lose your father and best friend in one swoop was just devastating to me.
So, I literally almost died. I couldn't look in the mirror for two years, because I look just like my father. So I remember going for the first day to shave after he died and then I had to turn out the light and for two years I brushed my teeth, combed my hair and shaved in the dark. I could not look at myself. I love both my parents equally in that way, but I look just like him. So, those were the things, but it was just my own internal sense. Finally, one day I find this article about Billy Tipton. Well, one thing people don't know about me is that I'm a musician. Billy Tipton was a musician and he disappeared from fame in the 1950s when he catapulted to fame, and could have had all the success he wanted, but he disappeared off the face of the map.
The other thing what resonated, even though we was not of color, because I kept looking for people of color, because we just aren't documented and our history isn't documented, as usual, is that he grew up an hour and fifteen minutes away from me in Sedalia, Missouri. So Billy Tipton then became my boom, then I knew I wasn't crazy, because every transsexual or transgender person that didn't fit a binary, which I challenge anybody to say that anybody fits the binary the way magazines depict it because that's really where we get that stuff from. Fits that binary. Billy Tipton was it.
Then I hid this National Enquirer in our house like it was a Playboy magazine, so I could come home and stop praying to God every day because at least I then had a role model of Billy Tipton who poorly died before his time, because he didn't want to seek medical intervention to blow his cover. He died of a bleeding ulcer.
Mason Funk: Let me know if you have a second. Tell me what period ... I kind of need to keep your story kind of grounded in time.
Kylar Broadus: Yes, and I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: [00:30:30] That's all right. If you could help me out by telling me what time-frame and moving through your chronology a little bit. What time frame was this? Maybe more importantly, can you just kind of tell me how you progressed from elementary school to high school and eventually to college, but in sort of simple terms. Just so I can kind of track your life story.
Kylar Broadus: [00:31:00] That's fine. Yeah. I'll be glad to. So I found Billy Tipton when I was 12 or 13 in the National Enquirer and that helped, because I prayed to God every day to fix me, because that's what I knew and I grew up in the Bible Belt of this country, which is Missouri and so that was the religion and the basis. It's like nothing changed each day. It's like I got to do something to change and I finally found Billy Tipton and that gave me a grounding to know that I wasn't crazy. There are people out there like me, that I can relate to and that I can figure out hopefully or move forward, but there was not enough information for me to move forward as quickly.
Then what I did was just became a shell and live internally. I was such an introvert. I was very quiet. I didn't talk to people and I didn't recess with people once I started to lose power and I couldn't play sports as well anymore with the boys. And then recesses, I would isolate myself. And then I had little girlfriends that didn't know I wasn't a boy, so then in Sex Ed it was a little pre-Title IX and then Title IX came in, but we still had sex segregated gym and I would have to sneak to girls gym. It was just all so very stressful, I'll kid you not. Sneaking to the bathroom, so my little girlfriends wouldn't know I wasn't a guy. Sneaking to the gym and praying they weren't in the same gym class I was in, and all of this.
Then really, in hindsight, that's from a kid's mind, but living in a rural small area, everybody knows everybody, so ... That's what I was doing for sanity. But I lived internal in my mind from junior high, high school and college, and I slept my way with my eyes open most of the way through that, to live in the real world, but to live in the world that could sustain me, for me to be me.
Mason Funk: Along the way, you're obviously acquiring an education and you at some point decide to become a lawyer. Tell me about that.
Kylar Broadus: [00:33:30] I always ... My two loves were music and law. I knew I could change policy with law. When I was in college and sitting there thinking I was so uptight from being repressed from Trans, that I couldn't get into music the way I wanted to, that then I was just going to have to teach and who was going to let me teach their children. I got up one day and went to the registrar’s office, took out ... I still have tons of music hours, and then just crammed a business degree into two years and graduated in the same amount of time by taking 21, 22 hours a semester and went straight into law school. Still, although it was pretty evident, but let my gender identity sort of roll out more and more, because people just related to me as who I was, which was trans-masculine.
Then it became more evident, because we wrote checks then and people would say, "Why did your parents give you this name? Why did they give a boy this name?" It just continued to roll from there, and I tried to stay in school forever, because I didn't want to encounter or enter Corporate America, which was extremely sexist, not that it isn't now, but making women wear certain clothes and men wear certain clothes. Then I graduated from law school and just had to have a job and then was exposed to that. It was horrifying. My girlfriend everyday had to explain this was a uniform. You're putting on these pantyhose and stockings, this whole thing.
It was just, as you can tell on my face, horrifying to me. As soon as the day was over, as soon as I could get to the car, I was like Superman in the car undressing, whether I got arrested or not, to get out of that crap because it just was so unsettling to me. It limited me. It did not allow me to bring my whole self to school. It didn't allow me to bring my whole self to work. Honestly, music kept me in school. I would have probably have gone had I not had that whole music camaraderie thing. I would have just gone.
Mason Funk: Let me ask you this, the girlfriend you're talking about in this era when you've now graduated from law school and you're working at a corporate law firm, so tell me where-
Kylar Broadus: Yeah, and financial services at the time.
Mason Funk: [00:36:00] Okay, okay. Tell me about this girlfriend. She obviously knew the totality of you and you say she would tell you, "You've got to put on your uniform." Just describe who that person was in this period of your life, when you're working the job force and you're still not fully transitioned, I guess would be one way to put it.
[00:36:30] I met her, she was an undergrad when I was going to law school. We hit it off and then continued to date as I was going to law school and then she was with me post-law school. Of course knew me, because if you're intimate with me, you know me. Even if you're not, you just talk to me a bit, you know me and knew that that was just the most horrifying thing for me to do, so she every single morning talked me through getting dressed just to go to work, literally. Which can you imagine having to do that or have somebody have to do that for you every day just to put on stuff that you just don't even comfortable wearing to go to work? It was a nightmare.
She was a good friend. We were young, but she got me. Every girlfriend that I've related to, it has been a relationship more of a they just got me. They knew who I am and that's the way people have related to me always. It was just horrifying, but it's all about what choice do you have? You've got to go out and make money. You've done all this education. It was still troubling because once I got into this organization and I-
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] What organization are you talking about?
Kylar Broadus: I don't name them and I was going to say that, because I ended up suing them.
Mason Funk: Let's start this over as a clean story.
Kylar Broadus: All right.
Mason Funk: [00:38:30] Let's sort of start over again. Start me fresh by saying, "I got a job with a company," or an organization or whatever you want to call it. You don't have to name them, but just start me off with like, "When I was X years old," or "About the time I was X years old, I got a job with a company."
Kylar Broadus: [00:39:00] Okay. After I left law school, then I got a job with a financial services company and wanted to move up the ranks, but their rigidity for women, which I was classified as, was very sexist and I didn't fit that whole sexist mark. Then there was no expansion and then I tried to tell them or explain who I was and then they assumed I was just a lesbian because they didn't listen or weren't listening and they were doing decent work around LG work, lesbian and gay work, but they were not understanding of trans or definitely bisexual work, even at the time. Just never listened and took it as to be other things and so it became this big discombobulated mess.
Mason Funk: [00:39:30] When you say they never listened, can you describe those ... You apparently were having conversations. Can you tell me about those conversations?
Kylar Broadus: [00:40:00] Well, the first thing is I had a supportive boss and she was female and she was Caucasian. So because she was supportive, they assumed that there must be something going on between her and the way they looked at trans-people particularly, that I must have been some sort of sexual predator or freak. She nor I got that until it was very late and then they started monitoring us. I found that very odd, because there could be guys that were friends and people promoting their relationships and mentoring them, but that never was assumed or implied and that sincerely wasn't going on at that time.
I had a lot of things going on because it was at the same time of my father passing and then my wife leaving me because of her feelings about ... Even though she related to me as this masculine person, she was not sure about the journey I was going to be going on. Then I had traveled a lot for the job that I was with and I was gone a lot, also. That I think was really the breaker of the relationship.
For this company now to come and say they didn't notice when I was wearing suits all day every and looked just like this with a short haircut and just wanted to change my name initially to what people called me, which was KB. People had been calling me that for years since college. They said that that wasn't proper for a woman and I'm trying to explain I'm not. It’s like “But you have other guys that use their initials, so why can't I use my initials?” That's where it began. Then it began about my haircut and then all these sort of monitoring devices about me and I'm like, "Wait a minute, that's like ... Are you having these conversations with other people? Of course you're not."
Sadly, courts weren't as educated about these issues then, even when I filed, and feeling that trans-people didn't belong or weren't covered or intended to belong under Title VII protections. So there just were supposedly no protections, which then got me into doing more advocacy. Because I was advocating and supporting L and G folks, but then it really got me to saying, "Wow, there's nothing out here for trans-people, got to get on this job because I don't want anybody to go through ... " Because I was making significant income to no income and then to your career completely being destroyed. I think people miss that today because we've through eight years of a great administration.
Mason Funk: [00:42:30] Let me interrupt, because we're jumping forward.
Kylar Broadus: I'm sorry. Yes, that's right. Keep me on track.
Mason Funk: We just kind of [crosstalk 00:42:32]. Yeah. Let me backtrack a little bit. I just want to get a clearer picture of the ... You mentioned your boss, who was supportive and that there was some maybe allusions made about that, but basically I just want to understand that essentially you were fired. As far as your-
Kylar Broadus: [00:43:00] Right.
Mason Funk: You were fired for being Trans and that this helped redirect your energies towards wanting to advocate for Trans as a professional person. If you can kind of give me a-
Kylar Broadus: A succinct way of saying-
Mason Funk: [00:43:30] A succinct version of the fact that you were in this job and describe what the friction was and what eventually led to you being fired. I know it's very, very complicated probably, but it'll work, it'll be more useful to people to hear it in a relatively simplified-
Kylar Broadus: Format.
Mason Funk: Format.
Kylar Broadus: [00:44:00] I don't know why I keep looking for arms ... Yeah, I can kind of go back to talking about the woman and then taking it from there. The story is complicated because they had that thought it mind and then they moved me to another boss who was this guy who then took on and had made all these assumptions about what was going on. Never gave me the opportunity to talk or speak and then I contacted HR and it just got very complex. Essentially then he began to ride my back and I was one of the exceptional employees. I still have every single review I've ever gotten and I keep them because that was a very ... Because what I did and learned to do was hide behind my work for my self-esteem and love for myself and I learned that from watching other gay people and trans-people, because just assume we wouldn't have relationships. We wouldn't have this. We wouldn't have any of these rights.
So I learned to hide behind work, and so my work was my everything, to the detriment of everything, including my relationship that I had. So I was all focused on this, but then I came back from having a surgery and then all this stuff went into play because I had announced prior to going out on this surgery what I intend to do and then all these accusations. It was literally and it was like that for everyone at that time. If you announced and came out, 99% of us were terminated. It was carte blanche. Then all of a sudden overnight I became lazy, shiftless. You can use all the terms you want to use, but then it all intertwined with race and the whole nine yards. So it was a constructed discharge, because they made it so difficult for me to work that I couldn't get work done.
My boss started calling me every hour on the hour in the evenings, creating ridiculous projects that were needed to be due the next morning. They'd be done, because I'd stay up all night and get them done. Then he'd be shocked, because they'd be done, but they just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. It was like, "It's clear you don't want me here," and so we parted ways. That's when I knew I needed to go into advocacy because then there were no laws. One, I couldn't find any attorneys that wanted to represent us and so I did what every law school says you shouldn't do as an attorney. Only a fool represents themselves, because I couldn't find anybody.
Then I finally did get a co-council guy to help me out a little bit, but I was just not going to let them go unbrandished for something that I was not doing anything wrong and I was doing my job fabulously. It was only the imaginations, which is what a lot of this trans stuff is about, the imaginations in people's minds going on and not what is actually happening in society.
Mason Funk: Thank, that's great. Tell me what formed your decision to form the Trans-people of Color Coalition. When did that happen?
Kylar Broadus: [00:47:30] I formed in 2010 after waiting for much other and younger people to form some sort of intersection of people of color and trans-people, because I'd been around the Trans Movement and the LG movement for a long time. I just kept seeing the lack of intersectionality. The lack of really working with other communities and other issues and I think that's still a problem that we have and we face. If we want folks on our side we have to work with them as well, because their issues do impact us. Hunger impacts us. Housing issues impacts us. Women's issues impact us. We’ll then have more people to work in coalition with as well.
And so, as I traveled and did my trans-work, I would hear from every pocket, whether it was rural or whether it was metropolitan, I don't feel anybody's doing any work for me. I feel isolated and I heard that from every trans-person of color. Now, so we formed. We haven't always been successful, Kylar's always a straight shooter. Because there's much fracture in the community, because there are people saying they are doing trans-people of color work and the actuality is that if the community doesn't have leaders that are trans-people of color, which I haven't always wanted to be the leader, but I've made sure ... My thought is if I bust down the door and open up the room, I'm bringing other people with me. It's not about me being in the room.
I think as a leader of color, you, that leader, have to think of that as well. It's not about you, it's about bring everybody in with you. That's been my theory and practice. That, however, hasn't worked well because we're still limited in getting in these rooms and then getting leaders to where they need to be and then leading this movement. We've actually ... You know, it's great to have allies, but it's also great for the impacted group to be the speakers for that movement. I don't just mean trans-people of color, but trans-people in general. We have to have a racial lens in this work and we don't. I used to say that conference after conference and one of the panels I've been on and another younger person said it and I was like, "Yes. Spot on."
It’s like because we don't do it with the racial justice lens, we think we do or we think because I'm oppressed because I am X, then that I understand another oppression. It's not about the oppression Olympics of one is more than the other. It’s about how can I understand your struggle as a gay white man, because I'm not, so what makes you think you can understand my struggle as a trans black man?
Mason Funk: Tell me what you mean when you say ... Explain what you mean when you say have a racial lens. What does that mean?
Kylar Broadus: It means’
Mason Funk: Start out by saying “Having a racial lens means …” Something like that.
Kylar Broadus: [00:51:00] When looking through a racial lens, it means you critique the work through eyes that if you’re not of a POC, a person of color origin, that you're seeing it through that POC person's origin. Which is a very different orientation than if I see it through obviously a Caucasian lens only, because they're very different lenses.
Mason Funk: How is it different?
Kylar Broadus: [00:51:30] Well, POC people face lots of discriminations than non- POC people. I have stood in line at restaurants forever and been there forever and I'm totally ignored. Especially when I was more gender ambiguous, because if I felt gender ambiguous, I was gender ambiguous. So I was just this big old black gender ambiguous butch thing and then we always got seated by the toilet or the kitchen. Okay? That doesn't happen to non- POC people and we can calculate that. Just like when we would go to the movies and we go, "Okay, the dog's going to die or is the person of color going to die first?" That's the formula in movies.
It's so true, it was the person of color first before the dog, because that doesn't happen to white people. They live on through the movie, we die in the movie. It's the way our society is systemically and structurally set-up. Nobody's fault, it's what it is, and we have to have an openness to understanding that. If you don't have that lens, then we need to be having discussions about that. The people that need lead those conversations obviously are the people with the POC lens again.
Somewhere along in our movement we've lost that kind of ideology that anybody can just lead, because they've done the work. It's like, "Well, no." It's just like if I'm going to talk about whiteness, sure there's obviously some in me somewhere. I have lived through a POC lens in life, so I could not lead that discussion. We need to be mindful and we can learn lots from each other. I remember implementing study circles when I was a human rights commissioner and helping to get those started in my city and people learned so much from each other that that made them better people. I see us needing to do that in the greater LGBT community as we grow, because there's just a lack of connectivity from youth and outside the LGBT movement to this movement. There's a lack of connectivity.
Mason Funk: Back up, sorry. Just go back to where you said youth. For youth in the LGBT community.
Kylar Broadus: [00:54:00] Okay. For youth in the LGBT community and outside, there's a lack of connectivity to history, because we're a different generation than my generation, which was the cold war generation and we were connected to what was happening. As a college professor, I saw there was just a lack of connectivity and no need younger people felt to knowing or needing the history. In LGBT movement, I see it greatly, because there's a lack of connectivity with elders and I know when we started we wanted to know what elders said and what happened and did. For us to miss this great moment in trans-history, where there are live Trans visible leaders and we're not using them. They've been dis-empowered by the way the structure is set up now and they're being discounted.
It’s like because they've led this movement to get it this far without a lot of funding they've, we've, I’ve included myself in there, and we funded ourselves to go do trainings and get in places and do this. And then now, for other people to say, "Oh, we all know about this work," that's not true. You need to look to the people that have led this movement and these people have been put away in closets and that's why I'm glad you're doing this project. This project's being this done, because all these people have been forgotten about and they still don't have jobs. They couldn't get jobs when we began this movement and they've done whatever, including myself. People think I've only had one. I’ve worked four or five jobs to the age of 50 and I still work several jobs to make ends meet and I'm by no means a wealthy man.
Mason Funk: [00:55:30] Can hold for second, because I want to talk a little bit about the present. One of the things you mentioned a minute ago was young people in particular don't realize that all the protections that have been put in place for trans-people have only happened under the Obama administration, which means as you said, that they can all be just taken away with the stroke of a pen. Could you just explain ... Talk about that a little bit. I want to make sure-
Kylar Broadus: Bring that in now. All right, super, thank you. Yes, and for us we went around doing education.
Mason Funk: [00:56:00] Who's us?
Kylar Broadus: [00:56:30] My generation of trans-people, which I'll just say are the 50 and older, because we had sort of other people earlier doing stuff in their communities and we weren't focused on legislation. We were just focused on survival. That was the pre-trans, pre-Stone Wall, Stone Wall, and then trans-people were just taught and told to blend in to society. Then our movement came out and said, "Oh no, we're going to be who we are. We're going to be visible, we're going to be noticeable and we're going to educate people. For the first time, we have these people out and useful and to have broken down these walls using their own money and their own time and their own energy.
These people still need to be used, because they're out there. Some of my colleagues are dead from the way we had to live and some of us are still here and we're still available and still should be used for that. But what most people don't realize is that it's only been within a short frame of time, we have gotten a huge amount of rights and people want to say, "Oh, well, you're just an Obama advocate." Set that aside, it's not about being an Obama advocate. It's about being a realist. Kylar is a realist. We have gotten the most rights and we got tons of rights and I've never known any group to get this many rights under any administration ever in the history of the United States and we've gotten them in eight years.
But believe me, he's done it with the stroke of a pen, because he's been a man with a conscience. Those rights can go away with the stroke of a pen and real quickly. Then we need to then go back to thinking about our community organizing and the things that we did to get us here. We need to then look to those trans-leaders that got us here, because that's who got us here. It was all that. State to state, door to door working by trans-leaders that led us to this point and work. It's great to have our LGB allies on board, but trans-leaders need to be leading that movement. And then younger trans-people, great we're loving it. It's great. It all needs to work together, but nothing's created in a vacuum.
Mason Funk: [00:58:30] Great. Great. Let me check my notes here real quick here. See what else I wanted to ask you about. Talk to me a little bit about what you and I also were discussing a minute ago, everyone wants to believe there's this unified LGBTQ community, but even within the trans community, between the trans-masculine or the trans men and trans women, it's not so much that there's conflict, although maybe there is, but there's difference. Difference of experience, whether you're people of color or not. Trans-people, trans-men have different experiences than trans women in terms of their integration into society, their visibility, how society treats them. I wondered if you could give us some examples of that.
Kylar Broadus: [00:59:30] People do assume there's this one Trans, there's this one gay movement with an agenda that includes trans-people. One thing I want to note to people and even some people are getting confused, including lots of gay people. The Trans Movement is farther behind than the gay movement. When you work on the streets and you see what's really happening and the jobs and the societal acceptance, no matter how much education, and we've a lot over the years, we're still behind. so we still have lots of work to do.
That being said, with any group of people, there is not unified, we all are on the same page. So within the communities, and I've seen more of it in the last few years than ever, because I used the be proxy for the whole community and trans-masculine people and trans-feminine people and gender non-conforming people would give me that proxy to speak on behalf of them. That's no more. It is a one, more of a reality TV, everybody wants to be a star. I'm just going to put that out there. Two, people think because there's a platform on Facebook or whatever there's no training needed to be an activist.
There is training needed to be an activist, just like there's training to be everything else, and there has to be a game plan and there has to be strategy around all of that. Thirdly, people have to realize that we all may have separate differences, but-
Mason Funk: Just hold on a second. Just wonder whatever is dragging upstairs.
Kylar Broadus: Sorry. I didn’t hear it.
Mason Funk: [01:01:30] It's okay, it's not your fault. I think they were dragging a table and I think they stopped. Just start when you were saying thirdly.
Kylar Broadus: [01:02:00] Thirdly, we have to set aside our own personal differences and I watched this in the gay movement and I've talked about this with other people because I was in the greater gay movement before I came to doing ... I don't just do trans work now, because I believe in intersectionality and I believe in human rights for all people and working for all people to have human rights. But thirdly, we have to set aside, yes, I may be more masculine and a masculine person may have triggered you somewhere along the way or a feminine person and you may have a difference with that feminine person.
To build a movement, we have got to set that stuff aside. We have got come together to build a movement that is a strong movement to get the rights that we need, because the stroke of a president's pen, one in a million we got who is going to go down in history as one of the greatest presidents just because he is. We're not going to have that kind of person in the office anymore ever in our lifetimes. We have to codify this. We need legislation in addition to case law, so our community is going to have to come together to be strong and to do organizing again, state to state and have all these differences and frictions is just not going to work.
It's like any other community. Everybody isn't going to agree, but somehow we're going to have to come together, because what trans-people also need to realize is while we seem to be growing, we're still so few. That's why we have to come together and we need to be unified. To finish this point, I remember being when the gay movement was chaotic and meetings were chaotic and everybody came in and everybody had their differences. Even though AIDS is on the rise again, but when we were taken by the AIDS movement, I remember in meetings everybody said, "You know what? You may have this personal baggage with this person, but we're asking you to set that personal baggage outside the door and come in this room and work with us for the greater good."
That's what I'm asking every trans-person to do. Don't stab your friend in the back. The enemies are not us. The enemies are outside of us. We have to get rights. We have to get people to stop being killed. Because there's more people being killed than the ones we track and count. There's tons. We have to get our heads on straight and keep the baggage outside the rooms and come in the rooms to work. We need to leave the reality TV stuff at home. Nobody's a star in this movement. I'm not a star in this movement. It's about working for the greater good of all.
Mason Funk: Great. Fantastic. What was your reaction to the Time Magazine cover, the so-called transgender tipping point? What did you think when that magazine cover came out and referred to it please in your answer, start by saying, "When Time Magazine-"
Kylar Broadus: [01:05:00] When Time Magazine came out with this is the trans tipping point ... I love Laverne, first of all, but I feel like that's mainstream media trying to tell us when the tipping point is, because there's tons of work that have been going on in policy rooms and places all over. So what I think is that's visibility and then I talked to lots of reporters afterwards and they're like, "So what do you think about this newfound visibility? How's that going to help your movement?" Well, I remember Laverne and I quote her and I hope I get this right, being saying, "Well, I still walk down the streets in New York City and they still call me a man."
That gets us visibility, but we still have to change hearts and minds and get those rights. Yes, it's another way of exposure, just like Caitlyn is another way of exposure, but until we can have one-on-one relationships with people, that's what's going to change hearts and minds. Because even legislation doesn't change hearts and minds. We still have the 1964 Civil Rights Acts. Is there racism in America? We just talked about, yes, there's racism in American and there's no post-racial society that's happened in my lifetime, that I've seen. I haven't seen it yet. If somebody's seen it, come call me and show it to me.
We have to realize that this is not a piece of legislation. It's not just a case. It takes social change and it's not just visibility. Black Americans have been visible forever. It takes more than that. I think statements much stronger were when Vice President Biden said, "This is the new Civil Rights whatever," but we've been saying it forever. Sometimes you do have to have figures that have a platform like Laverne and like Vice President Biden to say those things to help push America a little further. Not a bad thing, but just saying that those can't be the only indicators of what we’d look at.
Mason Funk: Do you think on some level ... I certainly agree with that the one-on-one relationships are the things that ... Everybody talks about how when gay people ... AIDS forced all of these gay people out of the closet and suddenly everybody realized, "Oh my god, I know a gay person. My cousin, my brother."
Kylar Broadus: [01:07:30] Exactly.
Mason Funk: [01:08:00] That will theoretically, inevitably happen for trans-people, but I wonder what you'd think if there's a ... If the wall is thicker and higher in people's willingness, the general public's willingness, to know a trans person and therefore change their hearts and minds about what they think they know about trans-people. Is that a higher barrier to get over than even the gay and lesbian thing was? Because I sometimes wonder if there's more resistance embedded in our psyches to the notion of trans-people.
Kylar Broadus: [01:08:30] I don't think there's a higher resistance to people getting to know and love trans-people than there was to gay people. I just don't. Because I've done too many trainings and honestly my trainings have shown me it's easier to teach straight people and the understanding with straight people and once they get it ... The trainings don't take very long. It clicks with them and they get it. Just that simply. I'm going to say, I've had more difficulty in my own LG community, because I will come in and do a conference and they will say, "Why are you here?" Which lets me know they have no idea who I am and I'm supposed to be part of that whole community, but straight people know who I am, because they've read about me and heard about me.
That says a huge piece and you don't even know and then I'll I'm Trans and then they think it's a compliment when they say, "Well, God, you don't look trans." That's not necessarily a compliment, because then what is that saying? What does Trans look like? I always tell trans-people that are down or blue, just go to the mall or go to the airport and look around. Because everybody looks Trans, because it's archetypal feminine and masculine binary things. You buy those in a magazine or you see that in Hollywood where ... Not the best, because not every Hollywood star looks like that, but those are archetypes. Nobody fits those binaries, and so we see more and more how we have commonalities with people.
I've seen less and less, because I've done so many diversity trainings, the Bible being used or thrown at us, because people just don't use that anymore. I've done trainings and I do them in the most conservative places, from least conservative places. Then I've been in places where I've been in danger, because I lived in a dangerous state and gotten more love after death threats from places that were just unbelievable.
Mason Funk: What I hear you saying is ... There was a thought that I wanted to follow-up on. I don't ... Uh oh, I think I might have just lost it. Give me one second. It went away, but I'll come back to it. I have-
Kylar Broadus: Was it the thought that us getting to know people-?
Mason Funk: No, it was just some side, it was a tangent, but it's okay.
Kylar Broadus: [01:11:00] Okay, I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: Kate, do you have questions for Kylar before I go? We have a little final set of three questions that I-
Kate Kunath: [01:11:30] Yeah. I don't know how well you can speak to this, but I'm really curious to hear what you have to say about it. It was really important to the gay movement to have homosexuality thrown out of the DSM and to be considered a disorder. What do you think about trans-conditions being in the DSM? Being considered disorder and if that is going to impede the progress of the Trans Movement?
Mason Funk Answer to me even though it’s Kate’s question.
Kylar Broadus: [01:12:00] Right, well we’ve worked for years to remove the trans-diagnosis from the DSM, because it does impede the progress of the Trans Movement by having us in there coded as mentally unstable or mentally ill. Luckily, we’ve had good traction by working with AMA, the American Medicine Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association who’ve all gone on record saying this is a medical condition. We still are moving it through, we’ve got some changes, they are not of course where we’d like them to be, we will would love more changes to be removed from it and just have it as a total plain medical code for... or not as a code but coded in a different way because it is not a mental illness.
So there is work still yet to be done there, but I think that will be changing rather rapidly because that is going to dovetail from the military ban in my opinion being lifted. Where we were considered in short corporal clingers, for those not familiar or old enough to know M*A*S*H reruns, where you know we’re just the, “Oh you’re just cross-dressers or you are not sure of what’s going on and you are just crazy and nuts.” Where we were not in the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law, but we were denied in military policy from serving and that was just announced in... I forget what month this is but a couple months ago or last month that the ban was going to be lifted.
I’m happy to have been a part of that process to make the argument that the ban needed to be lifted because there was no reason for the ban when you already have tons of trans-people in the military. Other military forces have trans-people serving in the military and they have no problems or issues. And there areways to implement it and do it and be successful. I think that will also help make that case that we need to remove any ties to trans people being mentally unstable or disabled in the DSM. There are whole array of thoughts about using the word transgender. Transgender was coined several years back and we’ve really used it as a political tool or vehicle, but our intent in my opinion was to be all inclusive of a rainbow of people.
When I say transgender, I mean everybody that’s not in the binary. I think that other people are stigmatized by that because a lot of people mainstream have thought that means only trans-sexuals. Or they see me now on this forum and don’t realize that at one point I was GNC or considered GNC because I didn’t fit in a category either. I think that we have a lot of short sightedness in ourselves, by we see people at one stage in their life and then we judge them and frame them. I think that’s part of a problem within our own transgender movement.
While we are saying we are not judging and we want everybody to be self-titled and self-identifying, we judge each other harshly and we don’t give people that opportunity to be self-identifying. Even if I want to be like this, then that should be fine because I’m not judging you if you want to wear a tiara and whatever you want to wear. That’s one thing that I see happening. Two, the idea of gender fluidity it does drive me crazy because it’s not new. We’ve always had that broad array, but I think what people see out are the policy wonks that have to deal and talk to policy makers.
That looks like there is this limited set of people that are always just talking for, but the thought is we are still trying to be inclusive of everybody and get everybody in the gate. Again, I think that’s problematic. We should be mindful that I think that most people that are fighting for rights are fighting for rights for everybody. Although I do see wings coming out now or different segments of folks saying this and that, but the policy makers or the people that I know that have been fighting in Washington for years and that have been going state to state to get these laws passed, we have been thinking about the community inclusively.
Or that’s what I think
I tune out all noises so that’s what it’s like. So we kind of think of the community as inclusive and I think we spend a lot of time in our community redefining and defining words and not moving ahead with getting stuff done in my opinion. That’s not going to make a lot of people happy that I said that, but we really do. Defining words and defining other people, outside people. I think discussions are good, but getting stuff done is even better and that we are never going to come together on a unification of what this or that means as the community grows, but if we can all come to the understanding that if we have a unified term that includes everybody and that people really are using that for everybody and that there is …
I can say “Well … Because there is a lot of times think we’ll screw the patriarchy and this and that. The thing is you have to think of the audience you are talking to, because to reach that audience to make them to change, you do have to talk to that audience in a certain way. So we can say screw them and we are only going to talk in a way, we are not going to do respectability politics. It’s not even respectability politics, I look at it, is how am I going to get the job done, what are tool is it going to take for me to get the job done for my community and am I going to throw a long pass, a short pass, or whatever? I don’t ever think about it as respectability politics, I think of it as what is it going to take for me to win the case?
That’s what I think that is the difference between people that … Because we need outside agitators and I think that’s good, but we need people that are inside that do know policy and I think that’s where our community needs growth in and we haven’t gotten there yet, to know that distinction or that difference. That agitators are good, that’s important but you also have to be strategic because you’re talking to people that don’t know your language and you’re trying to now force the language on these people. They’re like, “What?” Then you’re teaching them a new language, while then you’re trying to get rights. When we can get rights, and we’re spinning all these words and this language and taking all this time to do these stuff and that’s taken away from the time to get the rights.
Kate Kunath: [01:20:00] Are the rights… Is it possible to bullet point what the rights are that the Trans Movement is seeking right now or is it basically equal protection under the law? Is it more specific or more broad than-?
Kylar Broadus: I think it’s problematic and I don’t want to answer on camera because the problem is that the gay movement has taken over our movement. I don’t want to answer that on camera. I don’t want to answer that on camera because I don’t want to piss of the gay movement. That’s part of the problem we’re having right now. That’s why I don’t want to really answer that on camera.
Kate Kunath: [01:21:00] We can edit that.
Kylar Broadus: Thank goodness because that’s the one I really don’t want to answer on camera, because that’s the problem, because we had an agenda-
Kate Kunath: Where’s the batteries?
Kylar Broadus: Now they have an agenda because marriage is over. That’s all right.
Kate Kunath: I got this.
Kylar Broadus: I was like I have no idea what’s happening. Just trying to think of how to nuance that, but I don’t think I can talk about priorities that are needed in the community and I can bullet point those clearly. Those huge ones.
Mason Funk: We have to wrap up quickly. If you can-
Kylar Broadus: I can bullet point those.
Mason Funk: We’re out of time already.
Kylar Broadus: [01:21:30] All right, ready?
Kate Kunath: Like elevator pitch style.
Kylar Broadus: [01:22:00] Got you. There are clearly things the transgender community needs and needs now. That’s explicit clear employment protections in each and every state. Either a federal law needs to happen for that. We do have the EEOC rulings, but that’s not good enough for folks that don’t know how to navigate, and it takes long especially when you don’t have a job to begin with. Housing and safety issues. I think those are the three biggest priorities that trans-people face that don’t face the greater LGBT Community. Whose particularly if they live in protected areas, and can get married to their partners and have all these benefits are really disconnected from what’s really on the ground going on, with transgender people.
Mason Funk: Great, does that work for you?
Kate Kunath: Mm-hmm (Affirmative).
Kylar Broadus: Elevator enough?
Kate Kunath: [01:22:30] Yeah.
Mason Funk: Three final questions and these are also intended to be sort of short succinct answers. Three simple questions. To a young person or a middle-aged person, or an old person who’s about to come out in any way, shape or form, what piece of insight or guidance would you offer to that person? Please start by saying to … Someone who is about to come out.
Kylar Broadus: [01:23:00] To someone about to come out regardless of your age, get a support group of your own. Whomever that may be, people that you can trust that are going to support you. Secondly, reach out for any other resources that you can find, and I never recommend this big coming out thing because there’s so many things you need to find out that are going on with yourself, that is the whole coming out so publicly is just not beneficial to the person. You need some time for yourself. Then there are ways to get engaged, then in the community once you get yourself grounded.
Mason Funk: Great, what is your hope for the future?
Kylar Broadus: My hope is that we gain these rights, that we gain them quicker than I expect-
Mason Funk: Say what rights you’re talking-
Kylar Broadus: [01:24:00] I’m sorry. My hope for the Trans Movement is that we gain employment protections. We gain all the protections that every other class of people have. Employment, education, housing, credit and all the rights. Public accommodation. All the rights that everybody else has without having to go through them one by one and educate everybody that we need these rights and we’re treated like human beings like everybody else. That it comes sooner than later.
Mason Funk: What do you … You have said this before, but succinctly, what to you is the value of a project like OUTWORDS?
Kylar Broadus: [01:24:30] OUTWORDS I think is wonderful because it highlights the people that have put in the sweat, labor and tears to get the movement where it is today. Those people have been forgotten, and set aside. OUTWORDS gives these people a chance to speak out and talk about what was and connected to what is.
Mason Funk: Great.
Kate Kunath: Can I ask one more question?
Mason Funk: Sure.
Kate Kunath: [01:25:00] If those are the priorities for the Trans Movement, how did the bathroom issue become such a mainstream … That it could get so much press, it’s really important, is that strategic or is that something else happening?
Kylar Broadus: [01:25:30] The Trans Movement didn’t make the bathroom mainstream, the non-people … I don’t know what they call them because I don’t want to call them hate groups on camera. The Trans Groups didn’t make the bathroom issues mainstream. We’ve been doing this work for decades and gotten lots of places to pass bathroom legislation in laws. What you’re seeing is a backlash to marriage and to lots of progress of gay rights. Now we’re seeing the backlash. That’s why these bills now seem huge, because there’s no reason to say like Houston should not have protection. In DC we have one of the greatest protections for bathroom issues, and there are no problems here. Minnesota has had protection since 1972. No problems there.
It’s just simply backlash and fear mongering that have made these rise to the surface. I’ve represented tons of kids that are going to bathrooms in schools in conservative states which I will not mention, and they’re matriculating along with everybody else and they’re doing just fine.
Kylar Broadus: [00:00:30] Oh, no. The middle name is very important to me. It's my father's name and actually was my name to be given to me at birth, so I use the W. I don't always use William, so it's Kylar W. Broadus. That's why it's important to me, not because I'm being a pompous person.
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Great. Do me a favor and tell me when you were born and where, and of course you know the drill of complete sentences, so you'll to say, "I was born in ... " Tell me where you were born and when and kind of the family you were born into.
Kylar Broadus: [00:01:30] Okay. I was born in Fayette, Missouri in 1963. Actually, on August 28th, which was the historic march on Washington, on that very same day. To William and Fannie Broadus. I have one other old sister and a much older brother that my father had with another person, another female woman at that time. It was a small town, but it was a very diverse town in that we had proportionally more black people because when I grew up in America we were pretty much black and white. There were a few other races here, particularly in the Midwest, but the pre-domination of people that were here were black and white. That's where I grew up at.
Kylar Broadus: [00:02:30] My folks were hard-working people and they ... Everybody talks about the Emancipation Proclamation and when slavery ended, but sadly they suffered lots of hate, subject to Jim Crow laws and suffered all the atrocities that were the new framing of slavery. My father was a World War II veteran, proud of that, but never got to exercise any of his GI benefits because he was a black American, and was not allowed to when he came back stateside. He was never foul about that. My parents always had a good attitude about everything and you just work hard and you will be rewarded someday.
Kylar Broadus: [00:04:30] Yes. That's correct.
Kate Kunath: [00:05:00] Maybe there's a way to ... I think you have to, in the settings I think you have to say-
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] I've never heard somebody say that, that their parents essentially taught them ... I've heard, recently in particular, heard a lot of stories about black parents telling their sons in particular, "You have to ... You're going to ... You have to mind your manners like nobody's business." But I never have heard it said just the way you said it, but your parents essentially taught you that you will always be a second class citizen in America. Can you expand on that?
Kylar Broadus: [00:06:00] Yes. My father would drive a truck across country and he couldn't go to the front door. He had to eat out of the back door. They weren't allowed... When I grew up, signs were still separate for restrooms. My sister went to a segregated school. I went to, I had the fortune of going to a desegregated school, but will remember an instance of going to town to her to ... When kids went to the drug store for entertainment and then going to the bathroom and then this woman putting her hand in my face, being a little kid, saying “you can't go there,” and me reading the signs.
Mason Funk: [00:08:00] Wow, okay. The Civil Rights Act and the I Have A Dream and the idea of America becoming, “Post-racial society,” you haven't seen any of that come true?
Kylar Broadus: [00:08:30] I have not seen a post-racial society yet and I don't know when that might come. Perhaps when I'm dead and gone, but there is no post-racial society, because we have a black president in office doesn't mean we're post-racial. I've seen actually more backlash and hatred because we have a black president in office. If we were post-racial, we would beyond that and thinking of other things to do. I think actually this election cycle shows there's such backlash to having a black president in office and the gridlock of congress shows and the lack of respect for the man while he was in office, where people don't even call him president, they call him Obama and then a former president comes and sits with him and they say, "Oh, a President so-and-so was here today and they met with Obama." You can count that just sitting and watching the a news cycle.
Kate Kunath: [00:10:30] Sounds like a brawl.
Mason Funk: [00:11:00] But I didn't want to keep on going if the audio wasn't going to be usable.
Kylar Broadus: [00:11:30] Yeah, so growing up, knowing about separate bathrooms and having to use a separate bathroom and a separate water fountain because somebody had whatever thoughts in their head that they could become black from drinking after me, or catch something from after drinking to me. So then the same dilemma of being Trans and then the bathroom issue. Then, for me, there was just no curve, because I could just never use a public bathroom because then my girlfriend or wife would walk in and say, "Pre-transition I looked like this,"
Mason Funk: [00:14:30] Great, great. Let’s back up a little bit. You've mentioned in writing and you've alluded to it today that pretty much from a very, very young age, not only did you not feel yourself to be female, but people didn't perceive you as female. Can you describe that in more detail for me?
Kylar Broadus: [00:15:00] Yeah, I just remember from my first memories. I'm like, when people would refer to me as a she-child, which I don't know when they say those memories come, but I was like, "What are they talking about?" So much of me wanted to regress and I had that whole issue or feeling between that three to six-year old age and then I remembered then, because I had what's now been diagnosed as typical trans-anger in those grades. Then they had my parents take me, my mother took me to a place, and they had no evaluation techniques for that then. Then I remember standing beside her and they say, "Oh, your child's just a mean child."
Mason Funk: [ 00:17:00] Basically you were talking about how one might say you were angry. You were feeling this kind of sense of erasure, maybe this would come out in ways. You were labeled and then you were put in special education classes. Just talk us through that period of maybe elementary school, when you were probably mostly just confused and ... I don't know. Just tell us, describe-
Kylar Broadus: [00:17:30] I felt innately who I was always, but then getting pipelined into school, I went to pre-school, because I tested and excelled, and that's what you did, and made a good group of friends so the gender wasn't as much of an issue at that point. Then when I integrated into kindergarten, actually racial issues played an issue also, because I was this high yellow kid with blonde hair, and race was a huge issue. It still is. We kind of forgot it was for a while somehow in this country and I don't know how we forgot that, but it was majorly an issue, because here I was and so I took a lot of heat for the race issue.
Kylar Broadus: [00:19:00] He saw me being abused. Literally being abused. It wasn't any disciplinary action, because I had a teacher that just was doing that because there was a lot of racism. Again, the racism I found lots of times and even in my adult life precedes even people even knowing I'm Trans, because I've been in about being Trans. So wherever I am, a lot of times, sometimes, the racism precedes the being transgender.
Kylar Broadus: [00:23:00] Oh I'm sorry. I tend to look everywhere and I tend to hide my eyes when I talk because I'm shy, so I'm sorry. I'll try to look at him, so that you can see my eyes. I tend to hide my eyes because I'm shy and I don't like being filmed, so that's my bad, so just call me on it.
Kylar Broadus: [00:23:30] That my father had. We had this innate unspoken sense, because I would go with him and my sister would on truck runs as well even on the weekend, because he would pick up whatever extra jobs he could get. It would be a short run on the weekend and we'd go with him. Even I would help, I don't know how I was helping as a five-year old, but I would help and he would want us to be engaged and they would say, "Oh, you brought your son with you today," and he'd say, "Yep," and he'd just keep it moving. Never bat an eye. Never pass a judgement.
Mason Funk: [00:25:30] Okay, great. Let me just check my list of notes here. You mentioned just now your father, people would say, "Oh, you brought your boy along," and he would say, "Yep," and that goes to this reality that ... I'm just listening to that, but this goes to this reality that just from a very early you essentially presented as male, or that people perceived you as male.
Kylar Broadus: [00:26:00] My energy just seemed to read male and it always has, no matter what I would be wearing. Even when my mother would try to dress me in those little dresses or whatever, it would be really embarrassing because my little cousin's first and second would come up to me and they'd be like, "Why are you wearing a dress? You're not ... " I never felt comfortable in those clothes, but I knew I was somewhere in, definitely not a girl, girl and it just never felt, that never felt right for me. I knew it felt right for me and comfortable. I would even be with both parents and that would happen, because I was their late child, like I said, their late last child, and people would say that and neither would generally say anything.
Mason Funk: [00:30:30] That's all right. If you could help me out by telling me what time-frame and moving through your chronology a little bit. What time frame was this? Maybe more importantly, can you just kind of tell me how you progressed from elementary school to high school and eventually to college, but in sort of simple terms. Just so I can kind of track your life story.
Kylar Broadus: [00:31:00] That's fine. Yeah. I'll be glad to. So I found Billy Tipton when I was 12 or 13 in the National Enquirer and that helped, because I prayed to God every day to fix me, because that's what I knew and I grew up in the Bible Belt of this country, which is Missouri and so that was the religion and the basis. It's like nothing changed each day. It's like I got to do something to change and I finally found Billy Tipton and that gave me a grounding to know that I wasn't crazy. There are people out there like me, that I can relate to and that I can figure out hopefully or move forward, but there was not enough information for me to move forward as quickly.
Kylar Broadus: [00:33:30] I always ... My two loves were music and law. I knew I could change policy with law. When I was in college and sitting there thinking I was so uptight from being repressed from Trans, that I couldn't get into music the way I wanted to, that then I was just going to have to teach and who was going to let me teach their children. I got up one day and went to the registrar’s office, took out ... I still have tons of music hours, and then just crammed a business degree into two years and graduated in the same amount of time by taking 21, 22 hours a semester and went straight into law school. Still, although it was pretty evident, but let my gender identity sort of roll out more and more, because people just related to me as who I was, which was trans-masculine.
Mason Funk: [00:36:00] Okay, okay. Tell me about this girlfriend. She obviously knew the totality of you and you say she would tell you, "You've got to put on your uniform." Just describe who that person was in this period of your life, when you're working the job force and you're still not fully transitioned, I guess would be one way to put it.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] What organization are you talking about?
Mason Funk: [00:38:30] Let's sort of start over again. Start me fresh by saying, "I got a job with a company," or an organization or whatever you want to call it. You don't have to name them, but just start me off with like, "When I was X years old," or "About the time I was X years old, I got a job with a company."
Kylar Broadus: [00:39:00] Okay. After I left law school, then I got a job with a financial services company and wanted to move up the ranks, but their rigidity for women, which I was classified as, was very sexist and I didn't fit that whole sexist mark. Then there was no expansion and then I tried to tell them or explain who I was and then they assumed I was just a lesbian because they didn't listen or weren't listening and they were doing decent work around LG work, lesbian and gay work, but they were not understanding of trans or definitely bisexual work, even at the time. Just never listened and took it as to be other things and so it became this big discombobulated mess.
Mason Funk: [00:39:30] When you say they never listened, can you describe those ... You apparently were having conversations. Can you tell me about those conversations?
Kylar Broadus: [00:40:00] Well, the first thing is I had a supportive boss and she was female and she was Caucasian. So because she was supportive, they assumed that there must be something going on between her and the way they looked at trans-people particularly, that I must have been some sort of sexual predator or freak. She nor I got that until it was very late and then they started monitoring us. I found that very odd, because there could be guys that were friends and people promoting their relationships and mentoring them, but that never was assumed or implied and that sincerely wasn't going on at that time.
Mason Funk: [00:42:30] Let me interrupt, because we're jumping forward.
Kylar Broadus: [00:43:00] Right.
Mason Funk: [00:43:30] A succinct version of the fact that you were in this job and describe what the friction was and what eventually led to you being fired. I know it's very, very complicated probably, but it'll work, it'll be more useful to people to hear it in a relatively simplified-
Kylar Broadus: [00:44:00] I don't know why I keep looking for arms ... Yeah, I can kind of go back to talking about the woman and then taking it from there. The story is complicated because they had that thought it mind and then they moved me to another boss who was this guy who then took on and had made all these assumptions about what was going on. Never gave me the opportunity to talk or speak and then I contacted HR and it just got very complex. Essentially then he began to ride my back and I was one of the exceptional employees. I still have every single review I've ever gotten and I keep them because that was a very ... Because what I did and learned to do was hide behind my work for my self-esteem and love for myself and I learned that from watching other gay people and trans-people, because just assume we wouldn't have relationships. We wouldn't have this. We wouldn't have any of these rights.
Kylar Broadus: [00:47:30] I formed in 2010 after waiting for much other and younger people to form some sort of intersection of people of color and trans-people, because I'd been around the Trans Movement and the LG movement for a long time. I just kept seeing the lack of intersectionality. The lack of really working with other communities and other issues and I think that's still a problem that we have and we face. If we want folks on our side we have to work with them as well, because their issues do impact us. Hunger impacts us. Housing issues impacts us. Women's issues impact us. We’ll then have more people to work in coalition with as well.
Kylar Broadus: [00:51:00] When looking through a racial lens, it means you critique the work through eyes that if you’re not of a POC, a person of color origin, that you're seeing it through that POC person's origin. Which is a very different orientation than if I see it through obviously a Caucasian lens only, because they're very different lenses.
Kylar Broadus: [00:51:30] Well, POC people face lots of discriminations than non- POC people. I have stood in line at restaurants forever and been there forever and I'm totally ignored. Especially when I was more gender ambiguous, because if I felt gender ambiguous, I was gender ambiguous. So I was just this big old black gender ambiguous butch thing and then we always got seated by the toilet or the kitchen. Okay? That doesn't happen to non- POC people and we can calculate that. Just like when we would go to the movies and we go, "Okay, the dog's going to die or is the person of color going to die first?" That's the formula in movies.
Kylar Broadus: [00:54:00] Okay. For youth in the LGBT community and outside, there's a lack of connectivity to history, because we're a different generation than my generation, which was the cold war generation and we were connected to what was happening. As a college professor, I saw there was just a lack of connectivity and no need younger people felt to knowing or needing the history. In LGBT movement, I see it greatly, because there's a lack of connectivity with elders and I know when we started we wanted to know what elders said and what happened and did. For us to miss this great moment in trans-history, where there are live Trans visible leaders and we're not using them. They've been dis-empowered by the way the structure is set up now and they're being discounted.
Mason Funk: [00:55:30] Can hold for second, because I want to talk a little bit about the present. One of the things you mentioned a minute ago was young people in particular don't realize that all the protections that have been put in place for trans-people have only happened under the Obama administration, which means as you said, that they can all be just taken away with the stroke of a pen. Could you just explain ... Talk about that a little bit. I want to make sure-
Mason Funk: [00:56:00] Who's us?
Kylar Broadus: [00:56:30] My generation of trans-people, which I'll just say are the 50 and older, because we had sort of other people earlier doing stuff in their communities and we weren't focused on legislation. We were just focused on survival. That was the pre-trans, pre-Stone Wall, Stone Wall, and then trans-people were just taught and told to blend in to society. Then our movement came out and said, "Oh no, we're going to be who we are. We're going to be visible, we're going to be noticeable and we're going to educate people. For the first time, we have these people out and useful and to have broken down these walls using their own money and their own time and their own energy.
Mason Funk: [00:58:30] Great. Great. Let me check my notes here real quick here. See what else I wanted to ask you about. Talk to me a little bit about what you and I also were discussing a minute ago, everyone wants to believe there's this unified LGBTQ community, but even within the trans community, between the trans-masculine or the trans men and trans women, it's not so much that there's conflict, although maybe there is, but there's difference. Difference of experience, whether you're people of color or not. Trans-people, trans-men have different experiences than trans women in terms of their integration into society, their visibility, how society treats them. I wondered if you could give us some examples of that.
Kylar Broadus: [00:59:30] People do assume there's this one Trans, there's this one gay movement with an agenda that includes trans-people. One thing I want to note to people and even some people are getting confused, including lots of gay people. The Trans Movement is farther behind than the gay movement. When you work on the streets and you see what's really happening and the jobs and the societal acceptance, no matter how much education, and we've a lot over the years, we're still behind. so we still have lots of work to do.
Mason Funk: [01:01:30] It's okay, it's not your fault. I think they were dragging a table and I think they stopped. Just start when you were saying thirdly.
Kylar Broadus: [01:02:00] Thirdly, we have to set aside our own personal differences and I watched this in the gay movement and I've talked about this with other people because I was in the greater gay movement before I came to doing ... I don't just do trans work now, because I believe in intersectionality and I believe in human rights for all people and working for all people to have human rights. But thirdly, we have to set aside, yes, I may be more masculine and a masculine person may have triggered you somewhere along the way or a feminine person and you may have a difference with that feminine person.
Kylar Broadus: [01:05:00] When Time Magazine came out with this is the trans tipping point ... I love Laverne, first of all, but I feel like that's mainstream media trying to tell us when the tipping point is, because there's tons of work that have been going on in policy rooms and places all over. So what I think is that's visibility and then I talked to lots of reporters afterwards and they're like, "So what do you think about this newfound visibility? How's that going to help your movement?" Well, I remember Laverne and I quote her and I hope I get this right, being saying, "Well, I still walk down the streets in New York City and they still call me a man."
Kylar Broadus: [01:07:30] Exactly.
Mason Funk: [01:08:00] That will theoretically, inevitably happen for trans-people, but I wonder what you'd think if there's a ... If the wall is thicker and higher in people's willingness, the general public's willingness, to know a trans person and therefore change their hearts and minds about what they think they know about trans-people. Is that a higher barrier to get over than even the gay and lesbian thing was? Because I sometimes wonder if there's more resistance embedded in our psyches to the notion of trans-people.
Kylar Broadus: [01:08:30] I don't think there's a higher resistance to people getting to know and love trans-people than there was to gay people. I just don't. Because I've done too many trainings and honestly my trainings have shown me it's easier to teach straight people and the understanding with straight people and once they get it ... The trainings don't take very long. It clicks with them and they get it. Just that simply. I'm going to say, I've had more difficulty in my own LG community, because I will come in and do a conference and they will say, "Why are you here?" Which lets me know they have no idea who I am and I'm supposed to be part of that whole community, but straight people know who I am, because they've read about me and heard about me.
Kylar Broadus: [01:11:00] Okay, I'm sorry.
Kate Kunath: [01:11:30] Yeah. I don't know how well you can speak to this, but I'm really curious to hear what you have to say about it. It was really important to the gay movement to have homosexuality thrown out of the DSM and to be considered a disorder. What do you think about trans-conditions being in the DSM? Being considered disorder and if that is going to impede the progress of the Trans Movement?
Kylar Broadus: [01:12:00] Right, well we’ve worked for years to remove the trans-diagnosis from the DSM, because it does impede the progress of the Trans Movement by having us in there coded as mentally unstable or mentally ill. Luckily, we’ve had good traction by working with AMA, the American Medicine Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association who’ve all gone on record saying this is a medical condition. We still are moving it through, we’ve got some changes, they are not of course where we’d like them to be, we will would love more changes to be removed from it and just have it as a total plain medical code for... or not as a code but coded in a different way because it is not a mental illness.
Kate Kunath: [01:20:00] Are the rights… Is it possible to bullet point what the rights are that the Trans Movement is seeking right now or is it basically equal protection under the law? Is it more specific or more broad than-?
Kate Kunath: [01:21:00] We can edit that.
Kylar Broadus: [01:21:30] All right, ready?
Kylar Broadus: [01:22:00] Got you. There are clearly things the transgender community needs and needs now. That’s explicit clear employment protections in each and every state. Either a federal law needs to happen for that. We do have the EEOC rulings, but that’s not good enough for folks that don’t know how to navigate, and it takes long especially when you don’t have a job to begin with. Housing and safety issues. I think those are the three biggest priorities that trans-people face that don’t face the greater LGBT Community. Whose particularly if they live in protected areas, and can get married to their partners and have all these benefits are really disconnected from what’s really on the ground going on, with transgender people.
Kate Kunath: [01:22:30] Yeah.
Kylar Broadus: [01:23:00] To someone about to come out regardless of your age, get a support group of your own. Whomever that may be, people that you can trust that are going to support you. Secondly, reach out for any other resources that you can find, and I never recommend this big coming out thing because there’s so many things you need to find out that are going on with yourself, that is the whole coming out so publicly is just not beneficial to the person. You need some time for yourself. Then there are ways to get engaged, then in the community once you get yourself grounded.
Kylar Broadus: [01:24:00] I’m sorry. My hope for the Trans Movement is that we gain employment protections. We gain all the protections that every other class of people have. Employment, education, housing, credit and all the rights. Public accommodation. All the rights that everybody else has without having to go through them one by one and educate everybody that we need these rights and we’re treated like human beings like everybody else. That it comes sooner than later.
Kylar Broadus: [01:24:30] OUTWORDS I think is wonderful because it highlights the people that have put in the sweat, labor and tears to get the movement where it is today. Those people have been forgotten, and set aside. OUTWORDS gives these people a chance to speak out and talk about what was and connected to what is.
Kate Kunath: [01:25:00] If those are the priorities for the Trans Movement, how did the bathroom issue become such a mainstream … That it could get so much press, it’s really important, is that strategic or is that something else happening?
Kylar Broadus: [01:25:30] The Trans Movement didn’t make the bathroom mainstream, the non-people … I don’t know what they call them because I don’t want to call them hate groups on camera. The Trans Groups didn’t make the bathroom issues mainstream. We’ve been doing this work for decades and gotten lots of places to pass bathroom legislation in laws. What you’re seeing is a backlash to marriage and to lots of progress of gay rights. Now we’re seeing the backlash. That’s why these bills now seem huge, because there’s no reason to say like Houston should not have protection. In DC we have one of the greatest protections for bathroom issues, and there are no problems here. Minnesota has had protection since 1972. No problems there.
Kylar Broadus: [00:00:30] Oh, no. The middle name is very important to me. It's my father's name and actually was my name to be given to me at birth, so I use the W. I don't always use William, so it's Kylar W. Broadus. That's why it's important to me, not because I'm being a pompous person.
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Great. Do me a favor and tell me when you were born and where, and of course you know the drill of complete sentences, so you'll to say, "I was born in ... " Tell me where you were born and when and kind of the family you were born into.
Kylar Broadus: [00:01:30] Okay. I was born in Fayette, Missouri in 1963. Actually, on August 28th, which was the historic march on Washington, on that very same day. To William and Fannie Broadus. I have one other old sister and a much older brother that my father had with another person, another female woman at that time. It was a small town, but it was a very diverse town in that we had proportionally more black people because when I grew up in America we were pretty much black and white. There were a few other races here, particularly in the Midwest, but the pre-domination of people that were here were black and white. That's where I grew up at.
Kylar Broadus: [00:02:30] My folks were hard-working people and they ... Everybody talks about the Emancipation Proclamation and when slavery ended, but sadly they suffered lots of hate, subject to Jim Crow laws and suffered all the atrocities that were the new framing of slavery. My father was a World War II veteran, proud of that, but never got to exercise any of his GI benefits because he was a black American, and was not allowed to when he came back stateside. He was never foul about that. My parents always had a good attitude about everything and you just work hard and you will be rewarded someday.
Kylar Broadus: [00:04:30] Yes. That's correct.
Kate Kunath: [00:05:00] Maybe there's a way to ... I think you have to, in the settings I think you have to say-
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] I've never heard somebody say that, that their parents essentially taught them ... I've heard, recently in particular, heard a lot of stories about black parents telling their sons in particular, "You have to ... You're going to ... You have to mind your manners like nobody's business." But I never have heard it said just the way you said it, but your parents essentially taught you that you will always be a second class citizen in America. Can you expand on that?
Kylar Broadus: [00:06:00] Yes. My father would drive a truck across country and he couldn't go to the front door. He had to eat out of the back door. They weren't allowed... When I grew up, signs were still separate for restrooms. My sister went to a segregated school. I went to, I had the fortune of going to a desegregated school, but will remember an instance of going to town to her to ... When kids went to the drug store for entertainment and then going to the bathroom and then this woman putting her hand in my face, being a little kid, saying “you can't go there,” and me reading the signs.
Mason Funk: [00:08:00] Wow, okay. The Civil Rights Act and the I Have A Dream and the idea of America becoming, “Post-racial society,” you haven't seen any of that come true?
Kylar Broadus: [00:08:30] I have not seen a post-racial society yet and I don't know when that might come. Perhaps when I'm dead and gone, but there is no post-racial society, because we have a black president in office doesn't mean we're post-racial. I've seen actually more backlash and hatred because we have a black president in office. If we were post-racial, we would beyond that and thinking of other things to do. I think actually this election cycle shows there's such backlash to having a black president in office and the gridlock of congress shows and the lack of respect for the man while he was in office, where people don't even call him president, they call him Obama and then a former president comes and sits with him and they say, "Oh, a President so-and-so was here today and they met with Obama." You can count that just sitting and watching the a news cycle.
Kate Kunath: [00:10:30] Sounds like a brawl.
Mason Funk: [00:11:00] But I didn't want to keep on going if the audio wasn't going to be usable.
Kylar Broadus: [00:11:30] Yeah, so growing up, knowing about separate bathrooms and having to use a separate bathroom and a separate water fountain because somebody had whatever thoughts in their head that they could become black from drinking after me, or catch something from after drinking to me. So then the same dilemma of being Trans and then the bathroom issue. Then, for me, there was just no curve, because I could just never use a public bathroom because then my girlfriend or wife would walk in and say, "Pre-transition I looked like this,"
Mason Funk: [00:14:30] Great, great. Let’s back up a little bit. You've mentioned in writing and you've alluded to it today that pretty much from a very, very young age, not only did you not feel yourself to be female, but people didn't perceive you as female. Can you describe that in more detail for me?
Kylar Broadus: [00:15:00] Yeah, I just remember from my first memories. I'm like, when people would refer to me as a she-child, which I don't know when they say those memories come, but I was like, "What are they talking about?" So much of me wanted to regress and I had that whole issue or feeling between that three to six-year old age and then I remembered then, because I had what's now been diagnosed as typical trans-anger in those grades. Then they had my parents take me, my mother took me to a place, and they had no evaluation techniques for that then. Then I remember standing beside her and they say, "Oh, your child's just a mean child."
Mason Funk: [00:17:00] Basically you were talking about how one might say you were angry. You were feeling this kind of sense of erasure, maybe this would come out in ways. You were labeled and then you were put in special education classes. Just talk us through that period of maybe elementary school, when you were probably mostly just confused and ... I don't know. Just tell us, describe-
Kylar Broadus: [00:17:30] I felt innately who I was always, but then getting pipelined into school, I went to pre-school, because I tested and excelled, and that's what you did, and made a good group of friends so the gender wasn't as much of an issue at that point. Then when I integrated into kindergarten, actually racial issues played an issue also, because I was this high yellow kid with blonde hair, and race was a huge issue. It still is. We kind of forgot it was for a while somehow in this country and I don't know how we forgot that, but it was majorly an issue, because here I was and so I took a lot of heat for the race issue.
Kylar Broadus: [00:19:00] He saw me being abused. Literally being abused. It wasn't any disciplinary action, because I had a teacher that just was doing that because there was a lot of racism. Again, the racism I found lots of times and even in my adult life precedes even people even knowing I'm Trans, because I've been in about being Trans. So wherever I am, a lot of times, sometimes, the racism precedes the being transgender.
Kylar Broadus: [00:23:00] Oh I'm sorry. I tend to look everywhere and I tend to hide my eyes when I talk because I'm shy, so I'm sorry. I'll try to look at him, so that you can see my eyes. I tend to hide my eyes because I'm shy and I don't like being filmed, so that's my bad, so just call me on it.
Kylar Broadus: [00:23:30] That my father had. We had this innate unspoken sense, because I would go with him and my sister would on truck runs as well even on the weekend, because he would pick up whatever extra jobs he could get. It would be a short run on the weekend and we'd go with him. Even I would help, I don't know how I was helping as a five-year old, but I would help and he would want us to be engaged and they would say, "Oh, you brought your son with you today," and he'd say, "Yep," and he'd just keep it moving. Never bat an eye. Never pass a judgement.
Mason Funk: [00:25:30] Okay, great. Let me just check my list of notes here. You mentioned just now your father, people would say, "Oh, you brought your boy along," and he would say, "Yep," and that goes to this reality that ... I'm just listening to that, but this goes to this reality that just from a very early you essentially presented as male, or that people perceived you as male.
Kylar Broadus: [00:26:00] My energy just seemed to read male and it always has, no matter what I would be wearing. Even when my mother would try to dress me in those little dresses or whatever, it would be really embarrassing because my little cousin's first and second would come up to me and they'd be like, "Why are you wearing a dress? You're not ... " I never felt comfortable in those clothes, but I knew I was somewhere in, definitely not a girl, girl and it just never felt, that never felt right for me. I knew it felt right for me and comfortable. I would even be with both parents and that would happen, because I was their late child, like I said, their late last child, and people would say that and neither would generally say anything.
Mason Funk: [00:30:30] That's all right. If you could help me out by telling me what time-frame and moving through your chronology a little bit. What time frame was this? Maybe more importantly, can you just kind of tell me how you progressed from elementary school to high school and eventually to college, but in sort of simple terms. Just so I can kind of track your life story.
Kylar Broadus: [00:31:00] That's fine. Yeah. I'll be glad to. So I found Billy Tipton when I was 12 or 13 in the National Enquirer and that helped, because I prayed to God every day to fix me, because that's what I knew and I grew up in the Bible Belt of this country, which is Missouri and so that was the religion and the basis. It's like nothing changed each day. It's like I got to do something to change and I finally found Billy Tipton and that gave me a grounding to know that I wasn't crazy. There are people out there like me, that I can relate to and that I can figure out hopefully or move forward, but there was not enough information for me to move forward as quickly.
Kylar Broadus: [00:33:30] I always ... My two loves were music and law. I knew I could change policy with law. When I was in college and sitting there thinking I was so uptight from being repressed from Trans, that I couldn't get into music the way I wanted to, that then I was just going to have to teach and who was going to let me teach their children. I got up one day and went to the registrar’s office, took out ... I still have tons of music hours, and then just crammed a business degree into two years and graduated in the same amount of time by taking 21, 22 hours a semester and went straight into law school. Still, although it was pretty evident, but let my gender identity sort of roll out more and more, because people just related to me as who I was, which was trans-masculine.
Mason Funk: [00:36:00] Okay, okay. Tell me about this girlfriend. She obviously knew the totality of you and you say she would tell you, "You've got to put on your uniform." Just describe who that person was in this period of your life, when you're working the job force and you're still not fully transitioned, I guess would be one way to put it.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] What organization are you talking about?
Mason Funk: [00:38:30] Let's sort of start over again. Start me fresh by saying, "I got a job with a company," or an organization or whatever you want to call it. You don't have to name them, but just start me off with like, "When I was X years old," or "About the time I was X years old, I got a job with a company."
Kylar Broadus: [00:39:00] Okay. After I left law school, then I got a job with a financial services company and wanted to move up the ranks, but their rigidity for women, which I was classified as, was very sexist and I didn't fit that whole sexist mark. Then there was no expansion and then I tried to tell them or explain who I was and then they assumed I was just a lesbian because they didn't listen or weren't listening and they were doing decent work around LG work, lesbian and gay work, but they were not understanding of trans or definitely bisexual work, even at the time. Just never listened and took it as to be other things and so it became this big discombobulated mess.
Mason Funk: [00:39:30] When you say they never listened, can you describe those ... You apparently were having conversations. Can you tell me about those conversations?
Kylar Broadus: [00:40:00] Well, the first thing is I had a supportive boss and she was female and she was Caucasian. So because she was supportive, they assumed that there must be something going on between her and the way they looked at trans-people particularly, that I must have been some sort of sexual predator or freak. She nor I got that until it was very late and then they started monitoring us. I found that very odd, because there could be guys that were friends and people promoting their relationships and mentoring them, but that never was assumed or implied and that sincerely wasn't going on at that time.
Mason Funk: [00:42:30] Let me interrupt, because we're jumping forward.
Kylar Broadus: [00:43:00] Right.
Mason Funk: [00:43:30] A succinct version of the fact that you were in this job and describe what the friction was and what eventually led to you being fired. I know it's very, very complicated probably, but it'll work, it'll be more useful to people to hear it in a relatively simplified-
Kylar Broadus: [00:44:00] I don't know why I keep looking for arms ... Yeah, I can kind of go back to talking about the woman and then taking it from there. The story is complicated because they had that thought it mind and then they moved me to another boss who was this guy who then took on and had made all these assumptions about what was going on. Never gave me the opportunity to talk or speak and then I contacted HR and it just got very complex. Essentially then he began to ride my back and I was one of the exceptional employees. I still have every single review I've ever gotten and I keep them because that was a very ... Because what I did and learned to do was hide behind my work for my self-esteem and love for myself and I learned that from watching other gay people and trans-people, because just assume we wouldn't have relationships. We wouldn't have this. We wouldn't have any of these rights.
Kylar Broadus: [00:47:30] I formed in 2010 after waiting for much other and younger people to form some sort of intersection of people of color and trans-people, because I'd been around the Trans Movement and the LG movement for a long time. I just kept seeing the lack of intersectionality. The lack of really working with other communities and other issues and I think that's still a problem that we have and we face. If we want folks on our side we have to work with them as well, because their issues do impact us. Hunger impacts us. Housing issues impacts us. Women's issues impact us. We’ll then have more people to work in coalition with as well.
Kylar Broadus: [00:51:00] When looking through a racial lens, it means you critique the work through eyes that if you’re not of a POC, a person of color origin, that you're seeing it through that POC person's origin. Which is a very different orientation than if I see it through obviously a Caucasian lens only, because they're very different lenses.
Kylar Broadus: [00:51:30] Well, POC people face lots of discriminations than non- POC people. I have stood in line at restaurants forever and been there forever and I'm totally ignored. Especially when I was more gender ambiguous, because if I felt gender ambiguous, I was gender ambiguous. So I was just this big old black gender ambiguous butch thing and then we always got seated by the toilet or the kitchen. Okay? That doesn't happen to non- POC people and we can calculate that. Just like when we would go to the movies and we go, "Okay, the dog's going to die or is the person of color going to die first?" That's the formula in movies.
Kylar Broadus: [00:54:00] Okay. For youth in the LGBT community and outside, there's a lack of connectivity to history, because we're a different generation than my generation, which was the cold war generation and we were connected to what was happening. As a college professor, I saw there was just a lack of connectivity and no need younger people felt to knowing or needing the history. In LGBT movement, I see it greatly, because there's a lack of connectivity with elders and I know when we started we wanted to know what elders said and what happened and did. For us to miss this great moment in trans-history, where there are live Trans visible leaders and we're not using them. They've been dis-empowered by the way the structure is set up now and they're being discounted.
Mason Funk: [00:55:30] Can hold for second, because I want to talk a little bit about the present. One of the things you mentioned a minute ago was young people in particular don't realize that all the protections that have been put in place for trans-people have only happened under the Obama administration, which means as you said, that they can all be just taken away with the stroke of a pen. Could you just explain ... Talk about that a little bit. I want to make sure-
Mason Funk: [00:56:00] Who's us?
Kylar Broadus: [00:56:30] My generation of trans-people, which I'll just say are the 50 and older, because we had sort of other people earlier doing stuff in their communities and we weren't focused on legislation. We were just focused on survival. That was the pre-trans, pre-Stone Wall, Stone Wall, and then trans-people were just taught and told to blend in to society. Then our movement came out and said, "Oh no, we're going to be who we are. We're going to be visible, we're going to be noticeable and we're going to educate people. For the first time, we have these people out and useful and to have broken down these walls using their own money and their own time and their own energy.
Mason Funk: [00:58:30] Great. Great. Let me check my notes here real quick here. See what else I wanted to ask you about. Talk to me a little bit about what you and I also were discussing a minute ago, everyone wants to believe there's this unified LGBTQ community, but even within the trans community, between the trans-masculine or the trans men and trans women, it's not so much that there's conflict, although maybe there is, but there's difference. Difference of experience, whether you're people of color or not. Trans-people, trans-men have different experiences than trans women in terms of their integration into society, their visibility, how society treats them. I wondered if you could give us some examples of that.
Kylar Broadus: [00:59:30] People do assume there's this one Trans, there's this one gay movement with an agenda that includes trans-people. One thing I want to note to people and even some people are getting confused, including lots of gay people. The Trans Movement is farther behind than the gay movement. When you work on the streets and you see what's really happening and the jobs and the societal acceptance, no matter how much education, and we've a lot over the years, we're still behind. so we still have lots of work to do.
Mason Funk: [01:01:30] It's okay, it's not your fault. I think they were dragging a table and I think they stopped. Just start when you were saying thirdly.
Kylar Broadus: [01:02:00] Thirdly, we have to set aside our own personal differences and I watched this in the gay movement and I've talked about this with other people because I was in the greater gay movement before I came to doing ... I don't just do trans work now, because I believe in intersectionality and I believe in human rights for all people and working for all people to have human rights. But thirdly, we have to set aside, yes, I may be more masculine and a masculine person may have triggered you somewhere along the way or a feminine person and you may have a difference with that feminine person.
Kylar Broadus: [01:05:00] When Time Magazine came out with this is the trans tipping point ... I love Laverne, first of all, but I feel like that's mainstream media trying to tell us when the tipping point is, because there's tons of work that have been going on in policy rooms and places all over. So what I think is that's visibility and then I talked to lots of reporters afterwards and they're like, "So what do you think about this newfound visibility? How's that going to help your movement?" Well, I remember Laverne and I quote her and I hope I get this right, being saying, "Well, I still walk down the streets in New York City and they still call me a man."
Kylar Broadus: [01:07:30] Exactly.
Mason Funk: [01:08:00] That will theoretically, inevitably happen for trans-people, but I wonder what you'd think if there's a ... If the wall is thicker and higher in people's willingness, the general public's willingness, to know a trans person and therefore change their hearts and minds about what they think they know about trans-people. Is that a higher barrier to get over than even the gay and lesbian thing was? Because I sometimes wonder if there's more resistance embedded in our psyches to the notion of trans-people.
Kylar Broadus: [01:08:30] I don't think there's a higher resistance to people getting to know and love trans-people than there was to gay people. I just don't. Because I've done too many trainings and honestly my trainings have shown me it's easier to teach straight people and the understanding with straight people and once they get it ... The trainings don't take very long. It clicks with them and they get it. Just that simply. I'm going to say, I've had more difficulty in my own LG community, because I will come in and do a conference and they will say, "Why are you here?" Which lets me know they have no idea who I am and I'm supposed to be part of that whole community, but straight people know who I am, because they've read about me and heard about me.
Kylar Broadus: [01:11:00] Okay, I'm sorry.
Kate Kunath: [01:11:30] Yeah. I don't know how well you can speak to this, but I'm really curious to hear what you have to say about it. It was really important to the gay movement to have homosexuality thrown out of the DSM and to be considered a disorder. What do you think about trans-conditions being in the DSM? Being considered disorder and if that is going to impede the progress of the Trans Movement?
Kylar Broadus: [01:12:00] Right, well we’ve worked for years to remove the trans-diagnosis from the DSM, because it does impede the progress of the Trans Movement by having us in there coded as mentally unstable or mentally ill. Luckily, we’ve had good traction by working with AMA, the American Medicine Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association who’ve all gone on record saying this is a medical condition. We still are moving it through, we’ve got some changes, they are not of course where we’d like them to be, we will would love more changes to be removed from it and just have it as a total plain medical code for... or not as a code but coded in a different way because it is not a mental illness.
Kate Kunath: [01:20:00] Are the rights… Is it possible to bullet point what the rights are that the Trans Movement is seeking right now or is it basically equal protection under the law? Is it more specific or more broad than-?
Kate Kunath: [01:21:00] We can edit that.
Kylar Broadus: [01:21:30] All right, ready?
Kylar Broadus: [01:22:00] Got you. There are clearly things the transgender community needs and needs now. That’s explicit clear employment protections in each and every state. Either a federal law needs to happen for that. We do have the EEOC rulings, but that’s not good enough for folks that don’t know how to navigate, and it takes long especially when you don’t have a job to begin with. Housing and safety issues. I think those are the three biggest priorities that trans-people face that don’t face the greater LGBT Community. Whose particularly if they live in protected areas, and can get married to their partners and have all these benefits are really disconnected from what’s really on the ground going on, with transgender people.
Kate Kunath: [01:22:30] Yeah.
Kylar Broadus: [01:23:00] To someone about to come out regardless of your age, get a support group of your own. Whomever that may be, people that you can trust that are going to support you. Secondly, reach out for any other resources that you can find, and I never recommend this big coming out thing because there’s so many things you need to find out that are going on with yourself, that is the whole coming out so publicly is just not beneficial to the person. You need some time for yourself. Then there are ways to get engaged, then in the community once you get yourself grounded.
Kylar Broadus: [01:24:00] I’m sorry. My hope for the Trans Movement is that we gain employment protections. We gain all the protections that every other class of people have. Employment, education, housing, credit and all the rights. Public accommodation. All the rights that everybody else has without having to go through them one by one and educate everybody that we need these rights and we’re treated like human beings like everybody else. That it comes sooner than later.
Kylar Broadus: [01:24:30] OUTWORDS I think is wonderful because it highlights the people that have put in the sweat, labor and tears to get the movement where it is today. Those people have been forgotten, and set aside. OUTWORDS gives these people a chance to speak out and talk about what was and connected to what is.
Kate Kunath: [01:25:00] If those are the priorities for the Trans Movement, how did the bathroom issue become such a mainstream … That it could get so much press, it’s really important, is that strategic or is that something else happening?
Kylar Broadus: [01:25:30] The Trans Movement didn’t make the bathroom mainstream, the non-people … I don’t know what they call them because I don’t want to call them hate groups on camera. The Trans Groups didn’t make the bathroom issues mainstream. We’ve been doing this work for decades and gotten lots of places to pass bathroom legislation in laws. What you’re seeing is a backlash to marriage and to lots of progress of gay rights. Now we’re seeing the backlash. That’s why these bills now seem huge, because there’s no reason to say like Houston should not have protection. In DC we have one of the greatest protections for bathroom issues, and there are no problems here. Minnesota has had protection since 1972. No problems there.