Follow

It's so I thought I'd talk about the first trans person I was aware of. When I was around ten, Weird Al put out an album with Wendy Carlos called Peter and the Wolf. This was in 1988. I was a HUGE Weird Al and also a pretty big fan of The Shining. My parents explained to me that Wendy Carlos had arranged the music for The Shining and that she was responsible for a lot of music in movies. They also told me that she had decided, later in life, that she would be happier as a woman, so she changed her appearance and name and now lived life as a woman. And that was okay, because it was her life to do with as she saw fit. That made an impact on me, and I still think about her when trans issues are being discussed. Now I have some very lovely trans people in my life, including family, and my appreciation for them stems, at least in part, from that childhood experience. So thank you mom and dad for that.

@joehumphrey She's a quite underappreciated influence on music. Her electronic scores and performances of classical music convinced a lot of bands to buy synthesizers. If that hadn't happened, electronic music wouldn't have become what it is today.

@f00fc7c8 agree 100% her music for Tron was like a glimpse into the future of music

@joehumphrey
I was a music major when I was trying to decide whether to come out, and Wendy's existence helped me muster up the courage to do it. Her pioneering attitude has helped so many people

@joehumphrey You can tell a lot about a person by which Wendy Carlos music they reference. :)

For me, it’s “Clockwork Orange”

@FinnleyDolfin Clockwork is definitely what I associate with her music, but it was Weird Al and The Shining when I was a kid :)

@joehumphrey Clockwork was for me when I was a kid too.

I really didn’t have parental supervision.

I got into Zappa, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and other raunchy stuff before I hit puberty.

I was 11 when I snuck into the theater to see “Silence of the Lambs” and learned I shouldn’t go around quoting Jame Gumb at school. ;)

@joehumphrey

When I was maybe 11 or 12 I used to go to a computer club. Most people there were boys like me, but there were some adults too who were enthusiastic about the new revolution in home computers (this was 1983/84). I remember a man there who wore skirt's and like to be called Dee. My mum didn't like him, perhaps saw him as a danger. But that was my first encounter with someone outside of my very sheltered life, and I remember him fondly.

Also, I loved #Tron.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsW2EDGbDqg

@pete I have a trans character in my second novel named Dee :)

@joehumphrey that's a nice coincidence! 😀 Maybe it's a quite natural way of choosing a new name.

@joehumphrey She had a huge impact on me, as well! I suspect she was also the first person I knew of who had transitioned, so it's probable I learned to accept the idea because of her.

@joehumphrey Great story! Not nearly enough people with you & your families compassion🥰I did my paper for my Major in Psy on Transexualism, as they called it back then. But long before, a #startrek episode dealt with being trapped in the wrong body. I couldn't imagine. So I started reading. I realized, not only were Trans people VERY brave but also very secure in their decision. They are far braver than any of us will ever be...and I respect them for their bravery🙏💖

@joehumphrey That was a lovely way your parents described her transition, just right for children, that people can decide their own genders and choose happiness, and that being trans is ultimately about joy. I think that's a great thing to teach all children.

@ljwrites agreed. A surprisingly progressive take for my parents in the eighties :)

@joehumphrey
Switched on Bach also taught me about Wendy Carlos in a hs music class

@joehumphrey one of my friends is trans and it took almost an hour to get used to not misgendering her.

@joehumphrey the first trans person I knew was someone I worked with in the early 1990s. In those days I was loaded with terfy ideology but because I knew them I listened instead of arguing & it changed me completely. Ideology is all well & good but when it contradicts other people’s loved experience & feelings it has to be abandoned. So I left it behind & my life has been enriched by any number of wonderful trans & gender non-conforming people whom I love dearly & will fight for!

@gmrodger

That's so awesome! There's nothing like experiencing the world through someone else's eyes to give you the compassion and empathy needed to adjust your world view for the better

@joehumphrey big kudos to your mom and dad :) parenting done right.

@joehumphrey I've been looking for a copy of that album for years, but it's long out of print, not streaming and apparently untorrentable. Only a few weeks ago, I found it on archive.org ☺☺☺

Was not familiar with Wendy Carlos (other than her name being on the album), so this story was educational and informative. Thanks.

@uxintro I probably have the cassette tape kicking around somewhere still!

@joehumphrey she actually transitioned in the early 70s, way earlier than The Shining which is impressive in itself

@you_jo_girl

I thought so, but then I saw the BBC clip of her with the sideburns and wig and was really confused! Then I found out that she wasn't public yet at that point so she had to go into boymode for that footage. That must have been a challenge for her.

@joehumphrey that was in 1970, two years before she came out publicly. I think she was on hormones by that point and it certainly looks like it was a challenge!

@joehumphrey I was first introduced to Carlos in my teens when I heard Switched -On Bach. That album attracted adulation and derision in equal measures. I loved it and still do. Her transcription of the Third Brandenburg is utterly delightful.
It was followed up by the Well-tempered Synthesizer. Her Fourth Brandenburg was even more masterful. Glenn Gould, no less, described it as the best adaptation he'd ever heard.

@joehumphrey I was telling one of my partners a very similar anecdote yesterday, though in my case the film was Tron!

I'm pretty sure Wendy Carlos was the first trans woman many in our generation ever heard of

@joehumphrey thanks for this. Wendy deserves so much more credit for the cultural impact her music has had than she usually does. Also I had no idea about the Weird Al connection. I’ll need to check that out.

@joehumphrey same for me, except it was the film music for "Tron". I was a little bit confused when I read about her because back then in some books and on some vinyl records (remember, it was 1982) there were still her dead name.

@joehumphrey This brings memories. The first time I read about Wendy Carlos was back in 1986, and she was consistently referred to by her deadname. Things change, luckily.

@acousticmirror

Yeah, definitely a different time. Not that things are great for trans people now in America, but at least some of us are trying

@joehumphrey Oh, yeah. I was comparing to the 1980's. There's still a whole new world to build from here.

historical boymoder 

@joehumphrey
and don't forget about the time she was interviewed by the BBC but not yet out as trans so she got fake sideburns to boymode

@joehumphrey The first trans person I was aware of - I had to look up Google because I have such a terrible memory for names. So the search was "jan trans uk writer" and this was the top of result

"Jan Morris, the acclaimed British journalist, travel writer and historian who wrote about history's sweep and the details of place with equal eloquence and chronicled her life as a transgender woman, died on Friday in Wales. She was 94. Dec 2, 2020"

@joehumphrey Switched-on Bach laid the foundations for electronic music as a genre. That is more than a big deal, it's colossal.

@joehumphrey thanks for this. I had no idea Wendy was trans

@joehumphrey you had great parents. I can’t begin to imagine how mine would have reacted in 1988 if I’d told them then instead of waiting until 2013.

@HelenTheWalt they were complicated parents for sure. This was definitely one of the things they got right

@joehumphrey

Bigotry is borne of ignorance.

Education is the cure.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Write Out

A small instance for writers.

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" id="hometownlogo" x="0px" y="0px" viewBox="25 40 50 20" width="100%" height="100%"><g><path d="M55.9,53.9H35.3c-0.7,0-1.3,0.6-1.3,1.3s0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3h20.6c0.7,0,1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3S56.6,53.9,55.9,53.9z"/><path d="M55.9,58.2H35.3c-0.7,0-1.3,0.6-1.3,1.3s0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3h20.6c0.7,0,1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3S56.6,58.2,55.9,58.2z"/><path d="M55.9,62.6H35.3c-0.7,0-1.3,0.6-1.3,1.3s0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3h20.6c0.7,0,1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3S56.6,62.6,55.9,62.6z"/><path d="M64.8,53.9c-0.7,0-1.3,0.6-1.3,1.3v8.8c0,0.7,0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3s1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3v-8.8C66,54.4,65.4,53.9,64.8,53.9z"/><path d="M60.4,53.9c-0.7,0-1.3,0.6-1.3,1.3v8.8c0,0.7,0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3s1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3v-8.8C61.6,54.4,61.1,53.9,60.4,53.9z"/><path d="M63.7,48.3c1.3-0.7,2-2.5,2-5.6c0-3.6-0.9-7.8-3.3-7.8s-3.3,4.2-3.3,7.8c0,3.1,0.7,4.9,2,5.6v2.4c0,0.7,0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3 s1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3V48.3z M62.4,37.8c0.4,0.8,0.8,2.5,0.8,4.9c0,2.5-0.5,3.4-0.8,3.4s-0.8-0.9-0.8-3.4C61.7,40.3,62.1,38.6,62.4,37.8 z"/><path d="M57,42.7c0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2l-3.2-4.1c-0.2-0.3-0.6-0.5-1-0.5h-1.6v-1.9c0-0.7-0.6-1.3-1.3-1.3s-1.3,0.6-1.3,1.3V38 h-3.9h-1.1h-5.2c-0.4,0-0.7,0.2-1,0.5l-3.2,4.1c0,0.1-0.1,0.1-0.1,0.2c0,0-0.1,0.1-0.1,0.1C34,43,34,43.2,34,43.3v7.4 c0,0.7,0.6,1.3,1.3,1.3h5.2h7.4h8c0.7,0,1.3-0.6,1.3-1.3v-7.4c0-0.2,0-0.3-0.1-0.4C57,42.8,57,42.8,57,42.7z M41.7,49.5h-5.2v-4.9 h10.2v4.9H41.7z M48.5,42.1l-1.2-1.6h4.8l1.2,1.6H48.5z M44.1,40.5l1.2,1.6h-7.5l1.2-1.6H44.1z M49.2,44.6h5.5v4.9h-5.5V44.6z"/></g></svg>