400 years ago the first Phantom swore an oath to fight “piracy, cruelty and injustice in all its forms.” Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent forms of injustice in the world today is discrimination.
Wear It Purple is a movement that works to battle discrimination toward one of the most misunderstood of minorities; the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community. Given the name of the movement there is no better hero than The Phantom to fight this cause and we think you’ll agree it’s something he’d fight for. In this article we talk to an artist who has worked on The Phantomand identifies as transgender – Lindsay Walker.
‘Lindsay Walker’ may not be a name phans recognize. This is because up until two years ago Lindsay was Mick Collins. Mick, who had worked on Moonstone’s The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks and Phantom: Generations series, among other Moonstone projects, identified as transgender and not long after finishing her last project for Moonstone took steps to become her female alter ego, Lindsay.
CC: G’day Lindsay and thanks for joining us on Wear It Purple Day. For those who may not know, can you give us a basic description of what ‘transgender’ means?
LW: Hello and thank you very much for inviting me. Transgender generally applies to an individual whose inner gender doesn’t conform to the one assigned at birth. Gender is truly identified with what‘s between a person’s ears, not what’s between their legs.
CC: Phans of Moonstone’s work and visitors to CC before our relaunch may be more familiar with the name Mick Collins than Lindsay Walker. However, it’s not only recently you’ve identified as transgender. Can you take us through how you came to the realization that Mick was simply an avatar for Lindsay?
LW: For as long as I can remember I knew there was something that didn’t quite fit. Over the years I’d hear about trans women. As I got older it became clearer that I wanted to live as a female. But when I’d have these thoughts I quickly tried to think of something else. I was under the impression that it was sick to think this way. Society and certain family conditions can do that to you. There were a few occasions where I came close to self-mutilation. That’s how desperate I was to change. I couldn’t go through with it though. I didn’t want any questions if I had. Plus there’s the sight of blood. So I repressed the thoughts. I did a pretty good job at it too. I was putting up a good fight for a long time. I was never a typical masculine boy. I hated sports and cars. Never smoked. But I started drinking. I grew my hair long for a while. All my friends did so I had that excuse. Eventually I shaved it all off and kept it that way for years. I grew a long scraggily goatee and I went to the gym. They were all just bricks in the wall. Ha! I was tricking myself into masculinity. Bad idea. I was turning into a ticking time bomb. The misery and depression was spreading so fast it didn’t care who it was going to take out along the way. I literally started plans on ending it all. But I had my own family to think of too. Before it was too late I took the first step out of this world I was creating.
Kim and I began dating 2002. I thought the right thing to do is to tell her I wanted to live as a woman. She didn’t quite understand and found it a bit weird. I would bring the topic up every now and then but she would shrug it off and change the subject. She thought it was a stage. Over the years I learned to keep my mouth shut. September 2009 we took a holiday to Adelaide. On our last night there something happened. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore. My feelings spilled out. She was in tears. Not because of the stigma associated with trans people but the loss of a loved one. She was beginning to mourn for Mick. I needed her at my side for this. And she has been ever since.
CC: The stereotype for transgender women is the idea of “a woman trapped in a man’s body” and that if a man feels that he is truly a woman he must be homosexual. However, you and your partner Kim have a very healthy relationship which begs the question does this stereotype have any truth in it at all?
LW: There’s no truth to that at all. There are even gays and lesbians who believe this about transgender people. I’m a trans woman in a lesbian relationship. I’ve only ever been attracted to women. Kim and I have been together for over ten years. We’ve been best friends for even longer and we have three daughters together, Ariel, Heloise and Evelyn. Our relationship has grown so much especially since becoming a Rainbow Family.
CC: You’ve taken steps to truly become a woman for all intents and purposes such as hormone replacement and laser hair removal. These are pretty big steps, was it hard to make the decision to go through with them?
LW: They were some of the easiest decisions to make. Waiting was the hardest part. I started seeing doctors and psychiatrists around November 2009. I was approved for HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) around November 2010. It wasn’t until May 2011 I finally had my first pill. I’ve heard others receiving prescriptions very quickly but I had to go through a very long wait. As for laser hair removal… It’s not a fun experience. They tell you it’s like being flicked with a rubber band. I’d say it more like being whipped in the face with a wet towel. The upper lip is the most sensitive part to be zapped. At the moment I still have a way to go with laser treatment. I have to pluck the hairs in the meantime until I can afford it again.
CC: I’ve also noticed on your Facebook page there is a photo of you sporting some rather nice cleavage ^_^ . Have you had operations to make your body appear more feminine?
LW: Nope. No work done at all. HRT has only grown them to a B cup after 16 months but with the right bra and support it’s easy to accentuate those womanly features.
CC: I would imagine that during the decision making process of whether to become a woman or not that many questions about your own identity must crop up in your mind. Without getting too existential, did you at all have a battle of the ego and id?
LW: It took some time, and still, is to make these mental changes. I was conditioned from birth to live by certain male rules. But after a while with HRT my estrogen levels annihilated my testosterone. I become extra sensitive and would sometimes cry over nothing. This is coming from someone who’d rarely cry. I’ve become obsessed over looking right when I leave the house. I’ve become so self-conscious with my vanity. My feminine identity has flourished greatly.
CC: I understand that the choice of ‘Walker’ for your last name is due to your love of The Phantom?
LW: That’s right. When the time came to choose a new name I made sure they were all changed to further remove myself from my old family. Originally I was keen on Julie because of the female Phantom. Kim didn’t like it and could never see me as a Julie. So I picked Lindsay because I liked it and Kim approved also. So now I thought ‘I won’t pick Walker because it’s too obvious that I would choose It’. But I couldn’t think of anything else I liked. Kim then suggested ‘Walker’ to me. Who was I too argue? But I still had to pick a middle name. I love Judge Dredd but I wasn’t going to use his name. Next best thing Judge Anderson. Her name is Cassandra. It was a done deal.
Not only do I sport a Phantom name but so does my second and third daughters. Heloise is named after the Phantom’s own daughter and Evelyn’s middle name Falk is of course named after his creator Lee Falk.
CC: Has the fact that you now identify as female affected the way people interact with you all, both in your personal and professional life?
LW: Yes it has. I’ve really noticed how much men are pervs. I mean it’s crazy. I get looks all the time. The construction type workers are the worse. They really stare through you and lock on their eyes when passing by. I’ve had random compliments from old ladies and stuff like that. It makes my day when that happens. I get a lot of friend requests on Facebook too.
I don’t know if it’s affected my professional life in any way. I am working with Devin Grayson on Womanthology: Space. It’s an all women production. So I guess that’s one perk in my career as a female. I’ve been getting a lot of artistic job offers this year but that might be due to luck.
CC: In a multicultural world that continuously makes amazing advancements in technology and infrastructure it seems rather at odds that there are still pockets of society who refuse to acknowledge or try to understand transgender people. Why do you think this is?
LW: For me the number one observational cause is religion. Religious people in power are always trying to dictate their beliefs on the lives of others. And then you have these T.V. programs such as Jerry Springer and Maury Povich. Their excuse is they’re just bringing entertainment. What they’re actually doing is portraying transgender people as circus freaks. They give us derogatory names such as ‘Tranny’ or ‘She-Male’. They make us out to be men trapping straight men into sexual relations. We’ve been stigmatized by the media so often that most trans women cannot get a good education or job. They’re kicked out of their families and live homeless. It causes drug and alcohol abuse and many will work in sex services. Every week or so I read about a murdered trans woman. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for the way my life is turning.
CC: Finally; you’re a phan. Do you think that the Phantom would fight for the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender, et al peoples?
LW: I believe he would. If only the right authors would come along and be brave enough to tackle these issues in the Phantom’s world. In Uganda for example you’d receive the death penalty for homosexuality. This year they had their first gay pride parade. Now that’s bravery. There’s definitely a story there to be told. I’d love to illustrate that book.
CC would like to give a big thank you to Lindsay for talking with us. Wear It Purple is an important movement for all GLBTIQ people and their families and friends. If we really wish to be the advanced society we claim it seems only right that GLBTIQ peoples receive the same respect, acknowledgement and kindness that we afforded everyone else. Be proud and be supportive – wear purple. The Phantom does!
If you’d like to learn more about Wear It Purple, you can visit the website WearItPurple.org
If you’d like to see more of Lindsay’s art, you can view her website at http://puggdogg.deviantart.com/