Perpetual Change: Meggan Sommerville & More!

| Jun 1, 2015

I’ve done so many of these columns over the years that it sometimes gets difficult to find a newer artist to feature. I sometimes overlook the obvious, such as a few of my fellow TGForum writers. Having Meggan Sommerville agree to the DeGroff interview process was fortunate indeed.

For those of you who read Meggan’s material, then you know her background. But for the uninitiated, she has quite a story and vision. She is an outspoken advocate for trans Christians, and as such has a web presence known as Trans Girl At The Cross. She has also been involved with a nation-wide spoken word/essay project called Listen To Your Mother.
So, it is with great pleasure that we present this interview with one of our own, Meggan Sommerville.

megganTGForum: I was unable to find much in the way of basic background on you. So, if you don’t mind…

Meggan Sommerville: I am a California native, born in the Bay Area just south of San Francisco. I currently live in the Western suburbs of Chicago.

TGF: How old were you when you first started dealing with your gender issues?

MS: I was 3 or 4 when the first inklings that my body was not in line with who I was on the inside. As I grew, the dysphoria became more pronounced and I struggled all through junior high and high school with gender identity issues. After I made the announcement that I was transitioning, I was told by a few close friends that knew me well back then that they had suspicions that I was gay and I just wasn’t ready to open up about it. Being transgender wasn’t something people really knew about back in the ’80s, so the only thing outside of the conservative norm close to it was being gay.

TGF: The public readings taken from the book Listen To Your Mother by Ann Imig is interesting. How did you get involved with this project. How many presentations have you done?

MS: Listen To Your Mother is a national series of all local casts who are selected each year from essays that are submitted to the local producers. The whole show focuses on any and all aspects of motherhood that you could think of. I was part of the Chicago cast in 2014, the third cast for Chicago. I had become familiar with LTYM through a few of my blogger friends who were part of previous casts. Typically, there is one show on or around Mother’s Day and that’s it, you’re done.

My experience is a bit more unique, though. As of 2014, there had been approximately 1000 stories shared in the five year history of LTYM in cities all over the country. Out of those 1000 essays, Ann Imig, founder of LTYM, selected 55 to be in the anthology that came out this last April.

I did get the chance to read my essay again just recently at a book signing at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago. I joined Ann and the other five Chicago contributors for the opportunity to share our essays.

TGF: What kind of attitude did the organizers of the readings have towards including a trans person? And, what kind of feedback have you gotten?

MS: From my point of view as a participant and the point of view of many of the producers nationwide who I have come to know over the last year, including Ann herself, you couldn’t find a more inclusive group of people . Not only was I the first open transwoman to be part of LTYM, but there have been several parents of trans kids who have stood in front of hundreds of people and shared their emotional stories.

The overall feedback that I have received has been very positive. For those who let if happen, LTYM can become a family. I have formed intense friendships with not only the women I shared the stage with, but men and women across the country. We support each other when those dark clouds of life hang overhead and we cheer each other in life’s triumphs.

TGF: Your Trans Girl At The Cross is very well done and of the pieces I have read, very honest and heartfelt. What is your purpose in maintaining such a public forum?

MS: Today, there is a clash between many in the Christian church and the trans community. There are men and women leaving the church because of the judgmental and legalistic views that many within the church have towards them. there have to be voices that stand up as a bridge between Christianity and the transgender community. So many are feeling exiled from the one place that should be a place of unconditional love and nurturing.

The Holy Spirit really convinced me a few years ago not to hide anymore. Not to hide my faith in God and not to hide who He made me.

Even in the darkest night, a single candle can be seen miles away. Christ has called us to be a light in this world, His light, and the world for many Christian transgender individuals is a very dark place.

I have been very blessed to hear from people all over the globe. I love hearing that God blessed them through the words they read on Trans Girl At The Cross. When I hear that, I know God is using me to be that light that is so desperately needed.

TGF: I know that you, too, have experienced discrimination from more than one source. Christian trans people aren’t supposed to exist — not to the Christians or to the trans community. Would you describe your ability to deal with all this simply a question of balance?

MS: Actually, for me, it comes down to faith and trust. It took me a while to really understand and get to the point where I am at now knowing that my salvation, my existence is not dependent on the opinions of others.

True Christianity is not about religion — it is about a relationship, a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. Religious dogma can say what ever it wants about me, but I know who I am in Christ because of that relationship. I know that I am a child of God who is following, to the best of my ability, His will for my life.

Being Christian in the trans community is no different than being Christian in any other community. There are always going to be those who side against religion and the hypocrisy they see in the church. God has given us free will and with that, we are free to choose what to believe and who to believe in. It is my hope that those who have been hurt in some way by the church will not close themselves off from the message of Christ. I also hope that those in the Christian community will stop and listen as well, taking time to understand that God is much bigger and has a much more intricate design than maybe they are willing to admit.

TGF: Do you have any plans for more extensive writing, say something more book-length?

MS: Oh, boy. I have been told by many people, including my own dad, that I should consider putting a book together. I have thought about it but right now there is at least one big chapter of my life that I am waiting to finish and until that comes to a resolution, I feel that any book I do would be woefully incomplete.

TGF: If you had one thing to say to the trans community, what would it be?

MS: Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of division within the community. Events at the Trans 100 this year in Chicago are proof of that. We have to understand that we all come from different backgrounds, belief systems, and have vastly different experiences, but all that doesn’t mean that we all don’t share a common goal of equality and recognition for who we are. We are a wonderfully diverse community an we should draw strength from that instead of tearing each other down.

TGF: Sort of the same question; if you had one thing to say to the Church in general, what would it be?

MS: There are a few things that the church as a whole needs to hear. First, the God we worship is much greater and much more complex than any human can ever imagine. Christians need to stop putting Him in a box and limiting who He is and what He can do.

Another thing is there has been so much judgment handed out by Christians. Last time I checked, God’s greatest commandment was not “Cast judgment on one another just as I judge you.” If people really knew the judgment that is coming, they might just change their tune. God’s greatest commandment is to LOVE one another just as God has loved us — unconditionally, without reservation. When we put the Christian label on judgment, we are putting ourselves in the place of God — and that, my friends, is idolatry.

TGF: If you had the chance to do anything in your life differently, would you and what would it be?

MS: I think we all have at least one regret or look back and think we could have done something differently. But I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those ups and downs. The times I did something right and where I took a wrong turn. God uses it all to build who we are. I just think we have to have an attitude that we need to learn from our past and help share what we have learned.

TGF: In closing, what advice would you offer to any young trans person just “coming out”?

MS: Be yourself! It isn’t always easy, but you can do it with the right support system around you. Life isn’t always a pretty little Norman Rockwell picture — actually it seems more like a chapter out of a Stephen King book. But we have to remember, and this is something I still struggle with at times, is that these are just chapters in your life. Each day we draw a breath is a new page, you never know where God is taking you. You don’t have to know the entire journey. Just live your life authentically and seek God to guide your next step.

Read Meggan’s column here in TGForum. Use the Search function to find all of her contributions. She can be contacted through TGF or via email. Follow her on Twitter @MegganRenee. She is also on Facebook and YouTube. The Listen to Your Mother book is available through Amazon.

ALSO THIS MONTH

de Alba as Garland

de Alba as Garland

Georgie Jessup will be appearing on Caroline Ferrante’s American Radio Show at The Mansion on O Street, 2020 O Street NW, Washington DC, on July 29th from 1 to 2 p.m.

David de Alba will be presenting a new show and tribute to Judy Garland on Sunday, June 21st at The Onyx Theatre in Las Vegas, NV. 953 E. Sahara Ve, Las Vegas, phone 702-732-7225 for box office information; also, please check David’s website.

NEW MUSIC

This month, I only have one new project to review. However, I want to call attention to several artists who have been featured here in the past who will be releasing new material soon. Michelle Rocking Horse Garcia, Baby Dee and Shawna Virago all have new projects in the works. While I don’t have specific release dates available, I will definitely keep you up to date about all this new material.

Arcadia by Mackintosh Braun

Mackintosh Braun is an EDM duo from Portland, Oregon, consisting of Ian Mackintosh and Ben Braun. In November, 2014, they released a four song EP that was reviewed here. Their full length album will be released on June 16th.

Arcadia contains 11 songs, all of which fall deftly into the EDM genre and are more than reminiscent of bands such as Spandau Ballet and Human League. While most of the material is quite understandably up-tempo, it’s the more laid back material that seems to stand out. Tracks such as Into Nothing, Another Place, Holding Pattern (which is one of the better production moments on the project), and the laid back, almost dark project closer We Ran Faster Then (probably the best vocals on the project), are the tunes that really caught my attention because they didn’t sound like everything else on the project.

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That’s the one flaw I find with EDM. While I understand the genre’s popularity (especially with the dance crowd), its overall sameness gets to be overwhelming at times. Hearing tunes such as the aforementioned songs that push the envelop (even a little), makes for a pleasant listening experience.
For more information, please check out their website. They’re also on Twitter and Facebook.

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Category: Fun & Entertainment, Music

Pam Degroff

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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