TRANSCRIPT: TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones Episode 18, ‘Trans Reality with TS Madison’

Imara Jones: Hi, fam. It’s Imara Jones. Welcome to the TransLash Podcast, a show where we tell trans stories to save trans lives. With this in mind, I wanted to share some big news, like way big, before introducing today’s show. The TransLash Podcast has been nominated for a Webby Award. This is a big nomination, celebrating the best of the internet. And winners are decided by popular vote. And we are up against some very stiff competition. So if you could take a moment to go vote for us, I would appreciate it so much. Go to vote.WebbyAwards.com, you can find our show in the podcast category under Diversity & Inclusion, you can find the link as well to vote in the description of today’s episode and our show notes. I’ll also be sure to remind you of all of this again at the end of our show. Now, on to the heart of our program. I have the pleasure of sitting down with the TS Madison, the bold and unapologetic star of the TS Madison Experience on WeTV.

TS Madison: All I was concerned about in the beginning was, “Where is the credit card numbers honey? What are the last four digits of the credit card and the three numbers on the back? Honey, please subscribe,” that, that was my concern. My concerns got more bigger when I was liberating fat bitches.

Imara Jones: As you can tell, today’s conversation is going to be a lot in the very best way. And that means that sometimes we get downright explicit. So I’m just giving you a heads up. Because our conversation was so rich and wide ranging my time with TS Madison will take up our entire show. And we won’t be starting out with a Trans Joy segment for this program because TS Madison literally is trans joy brought to life. With that, let’s get to our conversation with TS Madison. 

For today’s show, I’m delighted to be sitting down with the TS Madison of The TS Madison Experience on WeTV. She’s the first Black trans woman to both star in and executive produce her own reality series. And she’s something of a genius when it comes to creating media. TS Madison has an incredibly popular YouTube channel, The Queen Supreme Court where she hosts several shows. And she was an early viral star on Vine, the popular precursor to TikTok. I’m fascinated by the ways she’s used trans visibility, and her brilliant media mind to grow her career by living her unapologetic truth. And also by the space she occupies in culture, online, on TV and sometimes even hip hop due to friends like Nicki Minaj and others. She does all of this while being rooted in community helping to support local trans groups across the country. I’m also wildly excited about a movie she’s in that’s coming up this summer called Zola based on a wild Twitter thread about two women who worked as strippers taking a trip to Florida for some quick cash. TS Madison, thank you so much for joining me today, so appreciative.

TS Madison: Listen, listen, when I’m sitting here listening to the way you introduce me, I felt like some stella bitch. But if you guys really know how gutter butter trucker I am, you’d love me even even more.

Imara Jones: Well, we’re gonna get to both sides. But we wanted to just celebrate the–and just like just the groundbreaking nature of just who you are and what you’ve done. Like we have to celebrate that right?

TS Madison: Yes, thank you. 

Imara Jones: Of course, of course. I wanted to ask you though, before I asked my real questions, is like do you have your .380 on you right now?

TS Madison: Of course. Of course. Listen, I have on a bra and panties. And I’m thanking, I was kind of thanking God, this was voice only. Actually, actually, actually I’m gonna do us one quick favor. I got to pull this wig off. Give me one second. Let me de-wig. Yes, hold on. Oh. Oh, Jesus. Whoo.

Imara Jones: It’s like that and the bra coming off, you’re like a new woman when it happens.

TS Madison: Well, you know now I can hear you guys better because I don’t have the wig constricting my earpiece. 

Imara Jones: There you go. But I asked about your .380 because you joke that, like, you always have a .380 in your bra. And that anytime someone wants to come up and try to like push up on you, you’re ready to take it there, so.

TS Madison: Well. I can–I have a .380 in my bra. I have a–I have a nine in my purse. I have an Uzi under my pillow. And I have various fire arms around the house.

Imara Jones: Locked and loaded for these crazy times. So when people were storming the Capitol, you were ready. You were like…

Listen, you come over here and storm the Black house if you want to.

Yeah, it’s a different story.

There’s a different world, wooh, than where you come from–

That song! 

TS Madison: –baby…

Imara Jones: Which, wait a minute, which version of that song do you like? I’m going totally off script here. Which version of the song do you like? Do you like the Aretha version of the, or the original one of A Different World?

Baby, ain’t no version, but the Aretha version that– 

I agree with you. I agree with you. I agree with you.

So one of the things that’s so clear from the beginning of our interview is that you are who you are. And you are unapologetic. And you are bold. And you stand in whatever you are thinking or doing in that moment, and you own it completely. Like, that’s just so clear from everything that you do. And I’m wondering, have you always been that way? Like, even when you were a kid, before transitioning? Were you like that, or the type of confidence that you have, is that something that came with time? 

TS Madison: Well, listen, you get enough whoopings when you a bad child, you got to stand in something or you’ll be running from everybody. You know? Um, yeah, I would, I would honestly say yeah, I always stood for what I believed in, and I always was, uh, colored outside of the lines, and very colorful when I colored. It wasn’t until really, I really started to embrace exactly who I am, that I really started to be more deeply rooted in, in self confidence and self awareness. Listen, if you watch any of my videos, or see me anywhere, you know that I can perform like a chameleon. 

I know when and where, I try to feel it out. Like you know, on interviews, you know how I can you know, bring the authentic TS Madison wherever I go. But you gonna get that that dash flash and and all that cash from TS Madison, you gonna that, you know. And, and it did start early. Like I said, from some of those whoopings I got and I was running from my mother, 

Imara Jones: So you were already, you were doing stuff you weren’t supposed to be doing.

Who told you that? Mama would just, my mama whoop me because tiny she ain’t had nothing else to do.

She was bored?

TS Madison: I don’t think it was me being disobedient. I think it was me really, in those spaces, trying to find myself.

Imara Jones: Yeah. And it’s interesting, right, because that “disobedience” that I think a lot of us can have, as trans people, that’s actually the things that allow us to become ourselves. Right? It’s the thing, that disobedience, whatever that seed was, is that is what enabled you to break barriers and to grow out of what you were taught you were supposed to be.

TS Madison: Mm hmm. I say this all the time, every interview that I go on. And I must say it in every space that I occupy, when we were born, we came out and we were automatically given a list, a list of things to do, the “Things To Do” list. And I decided like those are the things that I’m not interested in doing. First on the list is, you’re going to grow up and be a boy. Then after you grow up and be a boy, you’re going to marry a girl. Then after you marry a girl, you’re going to produce children, you know, you’re going to go to college, you’re going to get an education, you’re going to–you’re going to take care of a family, you know all of these rules. And it’s just like, “Well, what about what I want to do?” These sounds like–all of this stuff, is what you have designed for me to do, or what society or the social construct for me to do. What about the stuff that I want to do? 

I didn’t even have a choice in deciding what name that I was going to have, you gave that to me. I don’t think people really look at it from that perspective when they’re thinking about like, you know, people who are trans and I don’t think they look at it from that space. Like girl, we came out of the womb with an entire set of rules. And it started with your name. This is your name. This is your social security number. This is what you do. And this is how it’s supposed to work for you.

Imara Jones: I’m wondering if this breaking, like, basically tearing up the list and then becoming your own person, when did you get the idea that you were going to actually show people who you were and what it was like to be you? Like, I’m wondering how you came to that?

TS Madison: You know, to be honest with you, that really wasn’t the first thought in my mind when all of this stuff happened to me or for me, it wasn’t because–I had no idea like that that’s what was gonna happen. I was just in–trying to sell my merchandise, honey, because I had, um, had been told that this is the lane, I’m just being 2000, I had been told that this is the lane that you’re in. You are, you’ve been dealt the cards of a sex worker, this is what you know, you’ve went from the streets to a call girl, and from a call girl to an adult film actress, from from an adult film actress to you know, creating and making adult film. So this is what you do. And this is all you’re going to do. 

So make us–make all the money in it. And I found an avenue, which was Vine, to get six seconds of the product that I was selling to the masses, I had no idea that the six seconds would change my life and would change the world. Because in those moments, what you say was the Vine which is the, it was the precursor to TikTok. Yeah, I don’t even do, chile, I don’t even think about TikTok, no shade to TikTok, what a girl. I’m over there going viral on TikTok right now and I’m not even on TikTok.

Imara Jones: That sounds right.

TS Madison: But the only thing that I was trying to do was sell that product, I was trying to make as much money as I can to continue, you know, living quietly in my bubble of making good money in my own lane, you know, whatever. Chile I went out there and ran through the yard and did all that stuff. And I didn’t know, I didn’t know that what I was doing was going to become revolutionary, I didn’t know that was going to become revolutionary and liberating for lots of trans people, because there are lots of trans people who are invisible or who they’ve only seen, you know, one type of trans person, they don’t really get an opportunity to see a loud, live and in color, you know, trans person or one that’s so bod–body positive, listen, I’m body positive, I’m big I’m bold I’m Black I’m beautiful, everything on me is big honey, from head to toe. And that’s just what it is, and you’re going to eat it. If I serve it to you, you’re going to eat it. 

And I think lots of times, we don’t have the opportunity to really see big bold people in the world because big bold people, and I do mean big bold is just big bold personalities, big bold in body, you know, big, bold and everything. I came to the door like listen, “I want your money, buy my product, honey, and uh, and love me.” And so I didn’t know that it was going to do what it did. And it did so freakin much. And in it doing so much, chile, that stuff made me really change my perspective on a lot of things. And it made me you know, re, re evaluate what my responsibility was.

Imara Jones: Can you talk about that? That’s fascinating. What did it shift for you? And how did you suddenly becoming visible to millions of people change what you thought was possible and for instance, a responsibility?

TS Madison: Well, for one, it took, it…shit. For one. It took me out of just a secular place that I was in and introduced me to a world past what I thought that I was going to be able to intersect. Bitch, people from all walks of life from news reporter–it was, it was insane. Like all the the the feedback and the response that I got from it, people found it funny. And then people saw that I was selling a product. And then people like Janizca, who reached out to, like Janizca Bravo was the first, her and Brett Gelman were the first people to reach out to me, in I think it was 2013, reached out to me and wanted to do a project. 

They said they “get it” like “Madison, I get it.” And I was like well, “Okay, I get it too. But what is it? Which part are you getting?” You know, and then when it was when they talked to me about what I was doing, and how it was impacting in a different space than I even thought I was like, “Oh my god,” but, like, “Wow, my responsibility has changed.” Like, I have a different responsibility. And I didn’t know that it was affecting thinking like that, because honey all I was concerned about in the beginning was, “Where is the credit card numbers honey? What are the last four digits of the credit card and the three numbers on the back honey? Please subscribe,” that that was my concern. 

My concerns got more bigger when I was liberating fat bitches. When I was liberating loud bitches. When I was liberating big dick bitches, but I was liberating the girls like setting the girls free and giving voices to the, to girls who do not fit the norm, outside of the norm, because you know, there’s there’s the norm that we don’t fit in, then…we as trans people, there’s a norm that we don’t fit in, then we go, and we create another norm for us. And then there are trans people that don’t fit into that norm. 

Imara Jones: Right. 

TS Madison: And so, you know, we–you have to have a voice for those people that don’t fit into the norm of anything. And I personally feel like that, The TS is definitely that voice that doesn’t fit into the norm of anything. I love drag. I love lots of things that people would, you know, label me, or would say that you know, “Well, you’re not trans, you’re not a real trans person.” And I’m like, bitch, are you really not looking at, you’re trying to put me back into the matrix, but a matrix that you’ve created? 

Imara Jones: Right.

TS Madison: No, I’m totally free. Totally free, completely, I’m not going to leave that matrix, and then come over here, and be a part of this one and, and have to follow a, adhere to a set of rules now like, well, “These are the rules of trans, these are the rules, and this is how it goes. And if you’re not this, you’re not that, you’re not this, you can’t be in here.” No bitch, I’m in here, because I’m trans. I’m just this type.

Imara Jones: You know, I think that that’s such a powerful point. And I totally agree with you that the whole point of being trans is getting free. And there’s no reason for us to try to impose external ideas about being trans means, you know, the degree to which you can fit in with the rest of society, and that that’s the goal. as you say, that’s just replicating the jail, right? That’s replicating the prison. And the whole point of being free is to be able to be our full selves. 

I always say trans doesn’t look like anything, trans looks like whatever people who are in trans experience, want it to look like, you know, like, and that’s what we have to embrace. And I think, you know, it’s one of the reasons why people will respond to you so powerfully. One of the things as we’re talking about, I love the reaction, talking about the reality of your life now a reality show queen. And one of the things that I think is so fascinating, in terms of also being eye opening is the degree to which you integrate within the show, your family, and specifically your, your mom and your dad, and the really difficult conversations and conversation that you have with your dad about you transitioning and why he thinks that his masculinity won’t allow him to accept. 

And then even as you love your mom, the fact that that relationship also has its complexities, like all parental relationships. And so many times as trans people, we don’t include those stories because they’re painful. And they’re difficult, and you’ve made them a center part of your reality show. And I’m just wondering if you can talk about why you did that? And what is it like to go back and look at some of those conversations?

TS Madison: You know, it’s a reality show. And this is real for me, this is my reality. And this is not just my reality, but this is the reality of lots of trans people of color, and lots of LBGT people, LBGT+ people, if this is the reality of a lot of people, that they don’t have the opportunity to have the discussions in their households about this stuff. And it was extremely important for me to do this, because I’m not 20 years old, no more. I’m not 30 anymore. I’m 43. I’m going to be 44 in October, and I have a reality show that’s following my life. 

20 years ago, 25 years ago, the story would have been different. Now in this age, people need to understand even at this age, me being this old, it is still difficult. It is still difficult. There are young kids out there that are going through the same thing in their teenage years and 20s, they’re going through this right now. And they need to be able to see: she’s an older woman, she’s older trans person, and she has a great relationship with her mom, me and my mom discuss where we were and we talk about how we’ve come through these things. 

So this is definitely a key point for that trans child, for that LBGT+ child to be watching this, and for the parents to be watching this and be like, “Well maybe we can get through this.” They need to see my mother’s dynamic and then they need to see the dynamic from my dad like this is, my dad is a is an extreme representation of straight Black men who feel this way about their gay or trans child. They feel this way, and and people were asking me, “Madison, are you going to…Are you not gonna hide that, like, does that hurt you?” Yeah, I feel a way about it all. I feel a way about all of it. But my purpose is bigger than me. If I bring this stuff to the forefront to have these conversations in homes across America, across the world, maybe something will change in somebody, you–I may not be able to change everybody, but maybe just having this dialogue. 

Having this conversation, having this TS Madison Experience in the public, could possibly change something in one person’s home, could change the family dynamic in one person’s house. And that’s why it was extremely important for me, you know, to do that, sitting there watching that stuff, when my dad talked to me is when I was just like, I– doing it, I was upset a little bit, then watching it back. I was upset. But I was trying. I looked at myself and I was trying, I was trying, I’m like “Madison, Madison, you got to try. He’s ignorant. He’s ignorant. And he’s a representation of all the ignorant people. You don’t want to be on national television, busting his motherfucking ass in the face like you want to do, you know? You got to be an example and just try to have a conversation. 

Listen to him, listen to what he got to say, listen to it.” And there was so many pieces of it like it was I mean, we pick up on it um, in the finale, like the opening the finale, we’re going to pick up on the conversation, because we ended Episode Five with the conversation, but we’re gonna pick back up on it and then move to the rest of the episode. But of course, we feel that that scene that we filmed, it took like, it took the course of the day, it took us a long time, he had to get to where we were, we hadn’t seen each other in about five or six years. I blocked him on my phone, I had to unblock him to have a conversation with him. You know, it’s just like this stuff. And I’ve said, listen, I’ll call him. I spoke to him, I said “Sir,” I said it just like this. I said, “Sir, listen, okay, I am 43. I got a lot of good stuff going on in my life, the trajectory that I see for myself is up. I don’t need you on the side of the road talking trash smack shit about me. Let’s sit down and have a conversation and figure out where we could go as a parent to a kid? Let’s do it. I don’t really know you in the space that I would have wanted to know you. But, Hi, how you doing? I’m TS Madison, how are you?” You know, so let’s let’s just try to do that. He got right on there with that shit. And was, I just was like, Dear God, because he said lots more stuff. More. He said more stuff. And then he didn’t–he asked me for money. 

Imara Jones: Wow. 

TS Madison: Like when it was over, he asked me for money. And so I’m like, ‘So your only concern is money. Like your only concern, like I’m trying to repair a relationship, because obviously you’re jealous of the relationship that me and my mother have.” And he’s made statements and said that my mother “kept me from him.” And I said, “Sir, that is not true. My mother did not keep me from you. You kept yourself from me. And let’s say if that were true, let’s just say in your world, your, that was the real truth. If she kept me from you, from one to 18, what about the 19th year to now? I’m 43! What about the 19th year till now? Why is there still a disconnect? Why?” And so, you know, watching this stuff, it just, it makes my heart really weep for him. Like I would never pick my phone up and call him again. 

Imara Jones: Wow. 

TS Madison: Ever. 

Imara Jones: Yeah, I think that that echoes, I mean, I have a very similar relationship with my father. And I relate to it so much. And when you were sitting on that park bench, and when those words were coming out his mouth, I mean, my heart was breaking. But as you say that that’s a reality, that that is real for our community, and that it’s important to show that and to communicate to young people, as you say that they’re not alone, and that you can still as you’ve done, like, continue to build a successful life. 

One of the things that is really clear, and talking to you like this is how, two things: one, that you’re really grounded in the truth, right? You’re just grounded in your truth and grounded in who you are and what you want to do. And as you say a little bit that like you’re a performer, like that’s a kind of just a part of who you are. And so all performers, great performers, like as a part of their art, there’s something that they’re trying to communicate. There’s something they’re trying to tell people through what they do. So I’m wondering, what’s your lesson for us, TS Madison?

TS Madison: My lesson to everyone that listens to me and watches is to…oh, this is gonna sound really crazy. My lesson is to turn your pain into profit.

Imara Jones: I hear everyone clapping. I just hear so many people wildly applauding, but go ahead. 

TS Madison: Yes. Turn your pain into profit. The things that were trying to bind you, that with the ball and chain you, set yourself free and run into victory with that, like don’t stay bound by things that were meant to destroy you. Take that shit, laugh at that shit. Monetize off that shit, man. It’s gonna sound cliche, but be the change that you want to see in the world. 

Imara Jones: Right.

TS Madison: It was that I faced a lot of backlash from running through my backyard naked from the, from my own community. Lots of it. Loooots of it. 

Imara Jones: Hmm. 

TS Madison: I don’t even know how I’m embraced sometimes today. I faced lots of it. I’m like, ‘Bitch, Don’t look for me to represent you. Represent yourself.” Yeah, those used to be those were my argument words back to them. But when I heard that saying, “Be the change that you want to see in the world,” I understood that I was saying those words like, “I might not be for you. But I’m for somebody.” 

I’m proud to be trans. I don’t want to have an SRS surgery. Because growing up when you hear anything about trans or you hear anything about people who have transitioned or who have changed, everybody has the saaaaame story. And the story is everybody wants to have a pussy. That is true to those trans women;s story. That is true to their story. They, it’s gender dysphoria. Am I correct? Am I saying that? Right?

Imara Jones: You said it correct. 

TS Madison: However, I don’t want to have an SRS. And that does not make me incomplete. I don’t know if I’m articulating this right. But the point I’m trying to make is body positive. And I’m very, very in tune with my genitalia, and I’m okay with not having an SRS surgery. But I am still a trans woman. Still.

Imara Jones: At some point, you know, we all won’t be here anymore, right? I am wondering when someone comes across the name of TS Madison in the archives of trans women who lived in the 2000s, and helped to change the way that trans women were in media and seen, what do you want people to remember about you?

TS Madison: I want people to remember that I did it exactly the way I feel it, I did it the way I felt it. And that there was no script. It was unscripted. It was unfiltered. It was loud, it was live and it was in color. And it is okay.

Imara Jones: If that is what people remember about you, then that means that you have done a service for all of us by being unapologetic, and creating space for other people to be unapologetic, and showing that we can succeed while doing that and not having to conform. And so I just want to thank you for always showing up as yourself and for the power that you are able to communicate and transmit and give to other trans people and the liberation to other people as well just by that example.

TS Madison: Thank you and thank you for listening. It feels good when you, when your own embraces you and wrap their arms around you and say “I get it.” And it’s okay if you say, “Hey, she’s not me. But she’s–I’m a piece of her.” There’s a piece of–

Imara Jones: 1,000% .

TS Madison: And instead of saying like, “Oh, I don’t have any relatability to that.” Yes, you do. You do. You do, bitch!

Imara Jones: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think that we can see lots of parts of ourselves in you and lots of parts of ourselves that we want to be, in terms of like living our truth. So thank you, and we can’t wait to see what you do next. We know that it’s going to be a bop. 

TS Madison: Something coming!

Imara Jones: It’s gonna be something.

TS Madison: It’s gonna be something and I want people to know this life is a marathon. It’s not a race. Take your time, girl. Take your time. That means with even with your transition, yes, that means even with your life choices, take your time because when you take your time, slow and steady always wins the race. Always. 

Imara Jones: Slow and steady from TS Madison, who seems anything but! We will take it, we will take it.

That was TS Madison, the reality TV star and executive producer of her own show The TS Madison Experience.

Thank you for joining me on the TransLash Podcast. Now listen all the way through to the end of this show for something extra. I’m Imara Jones. 

If you love the TransLash Podcast, make sure you go vote for us in the Webby Awards, told you I would remind you again. Do it right now. It would mean the world to me and to our entire intrepid team here. Go to votes.WebbyAwards.com. 

You can find our show in the Podcast category under Diversity & Inclusion. Or you can find the link to vote in the description of this episode in this show’s notes. The TransLash podcast is produced by TransLash Media. 

The TransLash team includes Oliver-Ash Kleine, Montana Thomas and Yannick Eike Mirko. Our intern is Mirana Munson-Burke. Alexander Charles Adams does the sound editing for our show. Our digital strategy is handled by Daniela Capistrano. The music you heard was composed by Ben Draghi and also courtesy of ZZK Records. The TransLash podcast is made possible by the support of the Heising-Simons Foundation. 

Alright, trans fam. So what am I looking forward to? I’m looking forward to an honor that I will be receiving next week from Auburn Seminary here in New York called a Lives of Commitment Award. It is for those who live lives of moral courage, which I’m excited to be in the company, as a result of this honor, Alicia Garza, and Urvashi Vaid. And so many other people who have just led the way in our community and in our world, in this incredible time. And to just be included in the company of people like I just named, is kind of mind-blowing for me. 

But also one, I feel really gratified to be recognized in this manner. And I just hope that it is another thing that allows me to keep doing the work that I think is so important. I think that’s the most important thing about honors, right, is that they just encourage us to keep doing what we’re doing in an important way.

And understanding that there’s so many people who live lives of moral courage, whose names that we don’t know, and who are essential to their communities and the people that love them, and we honor them as well, because we know that they make the world go round. So I think we’ll be sharing some pictures or video from that. And I’m excited to hear what the other people who will receive honors, especially Alicia and Urvashi have to say. They are role models of mine, and I can’t wait to listen to what they have to say as well, but we’ll be sharing what we can and here’s continuing to live lives, everybody, of moral courage.

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