TRANSCRIPT: TransLash Podcast, Episode 13 ‘Trans Love’

Imara Jones: Hi Fam! Welcome to the TransLash Podcast, a show about news and culture from a trans perspective. I’m your host, Imara Jones. I am so excited to celebrate trans love for our special Valentine’s Day episode, cue music from harps and images of chocolate and Cupid. But before we talk about love, I wanted to remind you to please shout us out on social media, or leave us a review. If you do your message of love could easily end up in this program, like that of Tracy Wallen, who left us a message on Apple podcast saying, quote, “I am not transgender, but I am a member of the LGBTQ plus community. I happened upon your podcast and I am in–” wait for it–“love. It is so important to hear the perspective from the trans community. And we all need to listen, keep up the amazing work, and you have a brand new fan,” close quote. Thank you so much, Tracy. And maybe you’ll be the Tracy of next time. So leave us a review or shout us out on social media.

All right, on to the heart of our show. Too often, we’re told that we’re not beautiful, that we’re unlovable that we’re less than, but that’s not true. Trans love is sacred, we are incredibly worthy, and uniquely beautiful. And that’s why our entire program today is going to be focused on trans joy and trans love. First, we’re going to hear from the one and only Precious Brady-Davis who appeared with her husband Myles on the TLC special, My Pregnant Husband.

Precious Brady-Davis: Part of that came to the relationship of like “I’m unlovable,” that I carry like all of this baggage and Myles was just saying, “No, like I love all of you, all of that comes with you. And I’m here to work through that.”

Imara Jones: And then we’re going to talk about finding love online with Max Slack from the social and dating app, HER. 

Max Slack: If you’re going to be trans inclusive, particularly– or on any platform, but particularly on a dating app, you need to be explicit to the point that it is incredibly obvious to everyone, not just trans people, any single person who comes into that spaceneeds to know that trans people are welcome. 

Imara Jones: And whether you’re alone or with a special someone this Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that you’re loved and cared for that you are an important part of our community. And the thing I want most for you is to find the love and happiness that you want and that you define.

As you know, we normally start off our program with Trans Joy. But that’s our entire program today, centering love and joy. So now, it’s onto my conversation with Precious Brady-Davis. I’m over the moon to be talking to Precious Brady-Davis today, kind of fangirling actually, you may know her from the TLC reality series, My Pregnant Husband, which chronicles the journey of Precious and her husband Myles Brady-Davis, in the journey to become parents as a trans couple for the first time. It’s a powerful display of trans love, and a beautiful and much needed representation of trans family.

In addition to starring on My Pregnant Husband, which premiered last July, precious is an award-winning social justice advocate, communications professional and public speaker. She currently serves as the Associate Regional Communications director at the Sierra Club. And her advocacy work has been featured in Time magazine, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among others. And later this year, Precious is coming out with her very first book, A Memoir called I Have Always Been Me, which I’m personally very excited about. Precious, thank you so much for joining me, I really appreciate it. And when your book comes out, I hope you’ll come back on! 

Precious Brady-Davis: Hi, Imara, thank you so much for having me. And for that wonderful warm introduction. I’m glad to be here today. And I’d love to come back when that book comes out to talk to you about my memoir.

Imara Jones: Perfect. So I’m excited for this conversation because we as trans people, as trans women, as Black trans women don’t get to do what we are doing right now, which is to sit down and have a conversation about love–

Precious Brady-Davis: I love that .

Imara Jones: About the role of love in our lives and the possibilities that love creates. And so to that end, I’m wondering if you can take us into how you and Myles first met, how did this romantic relationship come to be at the beginning? I think that origin stories for love are really important. And we don’t get to tell our origin stories as much as others do. So I’m curious if you can tell us about yours.

Precious Brady-Davis: Yeah. But before I jump into that, I just want to just kind of step back and say that I really appreciate you inviting me to be a part of this conversation on your podcast. I know you talked about like the importance of talking about trans love stories, but I also think it’s important that particularly trans women of color, that we sit down and have conversations with one another and talk about our experiences and talk about our similarities and talk about our differences and and building up the sisterhood. I think we often, in passng, you know, we talk about what sisterhood is, but I think this is what that sisterhood in action looks like. And so I just want to thank you for that.

Imara Jones: Oh, thank you so much. A sisterhood, of course, is another type of love, right? And so we recognize the fact that love isn’t only about romance, it’s about all these other ways in which we build connection and honor each other. So thank you so much for that.

Precious Brady-Davis: Yeah, I completely agree. And in terms of Myles, and I, so about, it was about 10 years ago, I was leaving my job. I worked at the Center on Halsted in Chicago, which is an LGBT community center. And I worked in the youth program, and I coordinated youth outreach and did youth engagement. And Myles lived on the South Side of Chicago. And he was looking to get involved, particularly in work with trans youth. And the executive director of that organization, gave him a list of folks who he should reach out to. And I was on that list. And while I worked at the center, there was a knock that came on the door. One of my co workers comes up to me, there’s someone at the door for you. And it was I was like, “Who is it?” And this guy comes in. And he’s talking to me about wanting to work with trans youth. And in my head, I’m kind of “Mhm, mhm, mhm.” And–because I thought that he was just another person who was looking to do a research study, I was very protective over my young people, because there were a plethora of people who would come to the Center and say, “I want to get involved.”

So I kind of looked at him kind of nodded and like, didn’t ever think there would ever become anything of it. Towards the end of the conversation. He said, “I’m trans.” And I was like, “What?” Like, yeah, I didn’t say that. In my head, I was just kind of like shocked just because he you know, had cis-passing privilege just to start with. And so that kind of like opened the door for me that’s like, “Oh, he’s trans.” And the way Myles tells this story Myles says that I had a shocked look on my face. I did not, like I know the way that I carry myself. But after that, he, he left and he started like telling the boys like, “you have to give me a date with Precious you, like I want to go on a date, like with Precious,” you know, cuz he was really good friends with Angelica Ross. So I started hearing through the grapevine at trans community events, you know, from Angelica, Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, because they were roommates at the time until I would go over there and hang out every now and then I had an ethical standard.

Like it didn’t matter to me that he was from another community organization. I had met him at my job. And I felt like that that was like an ethical line for me. And so I start seeing him everywhere. And he would pop up everywhere. I mean, Laverne Cox would come to town and he would be there and he’s like, “Yo, Precious, what’s up?” I just was like, no, until finally, somehow he like got my number and he like texted me and I sent him this long screed message like one night as I was laying in bed, like, “I am a woman of victory. I am a woman of excellence. I am dedicated to my job. The young people are my life. I don’t have the time today.” And so after that he was so persistent. He kept being very persistent. And so one night I was leaving work. I was at the top of the stairs, it was a Friday night. And you know, program had ended and it’s probably about seven o’clock at night. And I looked down at the bottom of the stairs and he’s standing there. I’m like, “Oh my God.” He says “Let me take you to dinner.” And I thought, “Okay, the least I can do is let him take me to dinner.” And there’s this place called DIVA Sushi and it was a sushi place and we had dinner and I noticed he was eating very peckishly as I was like ordering sushi. I later found out after that he’s allergic to fish. Poor guy, like our first day we like went to like a seafood restaurant and he couldn’t even eat.

It was shortly after that he had gotten word that I was going to the Philly Trans Conference. And as I was getting on my flight to Philadelphia, I was checking my email and I looked down. And in the subject line of the email, it said, “I can’t wait to see you in Philly.” And that was all that was in the email. And I thought to myself, “Oh,” I was like, “Okay, he came to me on my turf.” And I, it took me aback like a moment, but it was like sweet, I thought, “Okay, this is super sweet.” And when got to Philly, I saw him and he was like, very cordial, but very flirtatious. And Janet Mock was the keynote speaker that year. And Janet Mock and I had lunch, and he had already got to Janet and put the plug. It’s like, “You have to put like a good word.” And I was like, “Let me think about it.” But then that night, we were all sitting just there’s a martini bar. It was like myself and Janet Mock and Gina Rosero, we were having a good time, I probably was like, two to three martinis in deep. And miles and I were texting each other. And he’s like, “I’m gonna come by with some boys.” I’m like, “Okay, like, whatever.” And he sits down next to me, and he looks at me, and he says, “I just want you to know that you’re the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever seen in my life, and I want to take care of you the rest of your life.” And I was like, there was nothing I could say. Like, I just like, melted and he looked me in my eyes and I just kind of like, right there. He, you know, with his love just stripped away like the, the artifice, you know, like the, the protective shell that I had placed upon myself, and that I was carrying from so many years of trauma in my life. And after that weekend we left Philly a couple, and have been together ever since.

Imara Jones: Wow. Wow. I mean, when he–it’s so funny. I initially thought when you said he’s like, “You’re the most beautiful woman in the world. And I just want to take care of you for the rest of your life.” I was kind of like a line went off in my mind. I was like, okay, end scene like, if I was a director, I’d be like, “cut.” That’s, that’s it. I think that your story brings up a really important question and point that I’d love to hear your inner thoughts about, which is before you met him, did you feel worthy of love? Because you mentioned that trauma had played a role in the early resistance. And so that springs to mind that question for me.

Precious Brady-Davis: Yeah, it was, it was hard for me because–and I talked about this in my book, I’ve Always Been Me, coming up this summer, July 2021–I had been in as we now know, a couple entanglements, as one might say, but I think that–You can hear, Zayn’s giving a shout out in the back–

Imara Jones: She’s ruling, so yeah. 

Precious Brady-Davis: Shout out fro–shout out from Zane. I dealt with my own self loathing of “Am I worthy of love. Am I beautiful?” And I really had to unpack so much of that, because at that time, I had a myriad of emotional relationships, but I didn’t have men who were willing to, most of them, to be in a relationship holistically with me. And so, yeah, it was hard for me to envision what holistic love will look like in terms of mind, body and soul. I mean, each relationship that I had, there would be one of those pieces there. They, they weren’t all there, but Myles completed all of those pieces.

Imara Jones: How did you get over the fear of being loved in that way, by him?

Precious Brady-Davis: Over time, you know, it was the building blocks of our relationship. And unbeknownst to me, even to myself, the idea of two trans folks loving each other like at the beginning that was even hard for me to like wrap my head around. I was like, “How does that work?” Even to myself, I said, “How does, how does that work?” I, y’know, had my own misconceptions around that and Janet Mock and I did have a conversation about it. And she said, “I think it’s important that we look at other trans folks the same way we asked the world to see us.” And that was revelatory to me. And I was like, wow, lay down like these misconceptions. And, you know, this internalized oppression. And I think we all have to look at, you know, the internalized ways in which we take on the stereotypical ideals the world places on us.

But in the beginning of our relationship, I feel I was laying down walls one by one, I think that that was a divine experience and encounter that Myles brought to my life and that we brought for each other. And I feel that that is what relationship is, you know, to it, it is a sacrifice, it is the way that two people come together constantly and how you remove layers of yourself to become one, and I came to the relationship extremely fractured just because I had a very hard childhood, a very traumatic childhood. And part of that came to the relationship of like, “I’m unlovable,” that “I carry like all of this baggage,” and Myles was just saying, “No, like, I love all of you, all of that comes with you. And I’m here to work through that with you.”

Imara Jones: My Pregnant Husband, of course journeys through kind of the last phases of pregnancy. And that journey into now parenthood for you both: fatherhood for him, motherhood for you. And I’m wondering, what role did love play in your decision to have Zayn?

Precious Brady-Davis: Everything. Having a child is the summation of our love. And it was at the cornerstone of the very beginning of our relationship. Myles said to me, “I want to have a child and I want them to have your face.” And it was one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever said to me. So from the beginning of our relationship, we knew that we wanted to have a family and we were definitely on the on the same page of that. And so bringing a child into the world, and bringing Zayn here was definitely a labor of love. It was a labor of sacrifice, you know, both of us had gone off hormones.

And that does an emotional number on anyone you know, because for some trans folks, that is, you know, the the stability and it creates, you know, the balance and it is the affirmation and so, to leave that, to be able to be able to physically bring life into the world that was, you know, our sacrifice that was our act of love so that we could grow our family and see an iteration of us in the world and a manifestation of our life.

Imara Jones: And now that she is here, 14 months, bold as brass, has been making her presence known throughout our interview, even though she’s not formally being interviewed. She’s at the microphone as it were.

Precious Brady-Davis: The diva!

Imara Jones: Yes, good luck with that, in about 14 years.

Precious Brady-Davis: Please, good luck now! She is the queen of this roost and, and I love every minute of it, and she looks just like me. Myles often says to me, he’s like, “She looks nothing like me. She got all of you.” I mean–

Imara Jones: Well, listen, first of all, that’s his fault. He spoke that into the world, right? He said, “I want the child to have your face,” so when that happened he only has one person to hold responsible for: own your words, sir. But I’m wondering what since she’s been here, since she’s been on this planet, what has Zayn the diva, the 14-month, year-old diva taught you about love? 

Precious Brady-Davis: Hooo. I mean, being a parent is love. It’s an unconditional love. It’s a love that I haven’t always known in my own biological family. So yeah, I would say the extent of what unconditional love look like.

Imara Jones: In addition to all of the care things that a parent’s mind naturally gravitates towards. One of the things that I’ve heard you say is that for you–I’m paraphrasing here, but that one of the things you realize that motherhood is sacred and that being her parent is a part of that sacred responsibility. And so I’m wondering, emotionally, what she has taught you about love that you either didn’t know before, or you’re feeling in a different way. And fundamentally, you being a person who is capable, worthy, full of, possible to accept love, right?

Precious Brady-Davis: I think since she’s been here, I’ve learned the importance of living in the moment and to be present, you know, with her. And, yeah, I think I try to live each moment and be present in it. And I am not into choreographing moments. And when I, when I straighten up her area, I’ll straighten up all of her toys, and I’ll put everything in place. And just as soon as I put everything in place, she like runs through and pulls out everything that I have put in its place. And it’s just as a reminder that life is not just a pretty bow. That’s not how she wants it, that she wants them to where she wants them to be.

It’s, you know, being sensitive to her feelings. I think there’s something about being less selfish, I guess a person. I was the girl who’d be in the salon every other week, you know, I’d get my nails done, full face of makeup. That’s not possible. And she doesn’t care, like what I look like. She knows that I’m her mom. And that has been super soul affirming, for me. Zayn doesn’t, you know, understand what my dysphoria is. I’m her mom.

Imara Jones: Wow, that’s a gift. Lastly, there’ll be a time when, when none of us are here, and Zayn will be, will still be here. And I’m wondering, Zayn, if she chooses to have a family, and she’s telling her kids and grandkids about the love of her parents, what do you hope that she remembers and, and communicates to them?

Precious Brady-Davis: I want her to know that love is unconditional. And that we will always love her through the eons of tim. In the beginning of my book, I say to Zayn, that the blessing is yours to inherit. And I really mean that of all I have is hers. And Myles feels the same way, and for any other children that we have. Whatever we have, is theirs. And so may it be prosperous, may it be healthy, and may be blessed.

Imara Jones: Well, thank you so much for sharing your journey and to love and to family. I think that it is a story that we don’t tell and that we don’t talk about. I have appreciated your openness and your honesty and the trust that you have shown throughout our conversation and our new connection and our sisterhood. And I’m just so grateful for the bravery that you have displayed throughout your life. And I’m not talking about necessarily the bravery to manifest yourself. I’m talking about the bravery you have shown in your journey into love. Thank you so much.

Precious Brady-Davis: Thank you so much for having me and for all the beauty that you represent and that you put out in the world. I think it is the glory of our ancestors. And thank you for continuing the work. As I always say, “The work continues.”

Imara Jones: It never ends. That was Precious Brady-Davis, a social justice advocate and communications professional who starred on the TLC series, My Pregnant Husband with her husband miles. She is also the proud mother of Zayn.

And now continuing our special episode about trans love. We’re going to talk a little bit about finding love online. Yeah, it can be a lot. For this conversation. I’m excited to chat with Max Slack. They’re Head of Global Partnerships for the dating and social app, HER and they are also passionate about brands and organizations who look to better serve, support and empower trans communities. Max, I’m so excited to be chatting with you. Thank you so much.

Max Slack: Thank you for inviting me, I’m really excited to be here.

Imara Jones: It’s so rare that we actually get to go inside the realm of dating apps, they seem to be so hard to figure out and impersonal in a way in terms of people who work there. So to actually be talking to a real life person that works at a dating app is a treat, really, it’s, it’s something that doesn’t happen very often. 

Max Slack: Yeah, people never believe me when I tell them.

Imara Jones: I think one of the interesting things about dating platforms for trans people, or rather trans experiences on dating platforms that they can be very isolating, marginalizing, strange. I could take up the rest of our time with various tales of woe, personal woe, that I’ve experienced on various dating apps as a trans person. And one of the unique things about HER is that it started out as a platform for lesbians and people who identified as women, I think, probably primarily cis women, but has grown to be very explicitly queer, and trans-inclusive for all gender identities. And I’m wondering why, and it may seem strange that I’m asking why, but that’s not a common choice amongst dating platforms.

Max Slack: I think it’s, um, I mean, the first point I want to address is that no, it’s not a common choice among dating platforms. And I think that’s really sad. I think that there is a wonderful amount of joy and flexibility and openness. And you know, you’re talking about stories of trans love, you’ve, you’ve already covered some of this, I’m sure, but I think that the stories that you can have, and the experiences and the people that you can invite into a space when you open up to trans people are second to none, and also incredibly unusual and things that you cannot find, in really anywhere else. Say, I think that it is a common choice not to, but I think it’s really a shame. I was actually listening to our CEO, Robin talk about the decision to be trans-inclusive.

And it’s interesting, because I think from an external PR perspective, it’s like, “Oh, you you weren’t to trans-inclusive, and now you are.” And her argument is, “No, we were always trans inclusive, we just weren’t explicit about it.” And I think that there was a realization. And I hope she won’t mind me saying this for her as a cis woman, that if you’re going to be trans-inclusive, particularly you’re on any platform, but particularly on a dating app, you need to be explicit to the point that it is incredibly obvious to everyone, not just trans people, any single person who comes into that space, needs to know that trans people are welcome. And that any offense or any lack of acceptance towards them from any background or gender identity or ideology will not be accepted.

It became very clear that we needed to be explicit about that. And that comes through in everything in the app, you know, it’s externally it’s in our community guidelines, it’s in the way that we build the way that we talk to our users, the way that our users are educated about other people they might meet, the way that you build a platform and all of the identity and sexuality options that you’re given when you do that, and when you build your profile. And I also exist as a trans person, within the company. And I speak at length to anyone who will listen about how lucky I am to have the experience that I have of coming out in a company that is not only supportive, but celebrates my trans identity and has made me feel incredibly valid.

Imara Jones: What do you think HER gets from being a trans-inclusive dating space? And what have you heard from members who’ve had positive experiences because you are trans-inclusive, and that would be people of all gender identities, the people reporting people because they think that they don’t belong on the platform because they’re trans aside, I would imagine that there’s also a parallel really positive story. So what do you think you guys are able to provide that others don’t?

Max Slack: I think as a platform, what we get from it is embodying a very modern, inclusive, LGBTQ+ community. You know, my role a lot of the time involves speaking to advertisers. And I make a very specific point of saying, we are not Grindr for lesbians. We are an LGBTQ+ dating, social and community app. So I think for us, we’re representing the, I guess, what I would call the best of the LGBTQ community that is inclusive and is looking out for each other and creating a space that is for all of us, rather than being divisional. I know for me on a personal level, one of the things that I was really scared of being openly trans and starting to transition was that I was going to lose my ability to access the parts of the queer community that I am involved in. I haven’t. And I’ve actually been able to unlock more. I know we have stories of people who have come on to the app and found for the first time that they can talk to people in just a very relaxed, and it’s not a word I love to use, but in a very normal way, that you– there’s a space where being trans is celebrated.

But there’s also a joy in a space where being trans is just, “I’m trans, great, okay, that doesn’t matter, it’s not a big deal,” you can just do what you came to the app to do, which is to meet people, and have a romantic relationship, to meet friends, to look at content, to share interests, you don’t have to constantly be thinking about how people are processing you. And I think that that’s something that I really appreciate, as a trans person, because I feel like I spend maybe 45% of my time actively pushing away negative energy and another 45% of my time, like very lou–being very loudly trans and talking about it all the time. And then there’s just a 10% where I just get to do something super normal and I don’t have to think about being trans at all. And I don’t know if you you kind of relate to it. But it’s, it’s a moment where I’m like, “Hmm, this, this is how it would feel to be, cis.” And I think that taking that pressure away from someone in a dating app environment is really, really important.

Imara Jones: Yeah, I think that that’s, that’s absolutely right. I think for me on these apps, you know, I’ve had the full gamut of experiences that you reference, personally, in terms of being reported, because I’m on an app that is not explicitly for trans people. And then people swipe right, and then read my profile, and then report me. So I’ve been bounced off of a couple of apps several times, one of them, I’ll just name them: Tinder. In addition to that, is the fact that people on other apps not understanding what trans is, or, you know, ghosting me afterwards or, you know, kind of the full range of, of experiences that you can have on on these apps I’ve had, and you as a trans person, similarly, as well, seemingly so. And so I’m wondering, what, from your personal experience, you’re hoping that HER isn’t replicating? That is to say, how does your own experience as a trans and queer person in the realm of dating apps impact, what you’re hoping that HER isn’t replicating?

Max Slack: So I think what initially pops into my head here is a phrase that I use a lot, which is to offer respect, before understanding. And I think that it can be incredibly powerful when you talk about the trans experience, because you can, you can argue until you’re blue in the face, like, oh, Google exists, and you should educate yourself, and you should know these things. And you shouldn’t ask me to educate you. But what it comes down to, is that people don’t know about trans people, we are not understood by a huge percentage of society.

So I think my hope is that we can create a platform where if somebody doesn’t understand, and that can be completely understanding the trans experience, or just like not understanding they/them pronouns or anything in between, what I hope is that we can create a space where if somebody is in that situation, they offer respect, so they are curious without being offensive. They ask permission before they ask questions, they think about how it might feel to receive questions about your body or your gender identity.

They are offered resources where they can go and learn about how to speak to trans people, how to interact with them. Something that we’ve done across the course of the last year is run over 400 virtual events in 2020. And a large proportion of them were activism-based, and a large proportion of them were trans activism based. And, you know, we had audiences of a couple hundred people on Zoom. And all of those people were not trans but they were listening to a group of trans people talking about coming out, talking about transitioning, talking about gender identity, talking about all the issues that face us as trans people in the time that we exist in. And what that is doing is educating people and allowing them to learn from trans people in a safe space. And I find it very, very hard when there’s a kind of narrative simply on like the internet and Instagram at the moment that’s very combative and people saying like, you know, “Don’t come at me if you don’t know anything about me, and you don’t know anythin about trans people, and you should educate yourself,” and I absolutely stand by people should educate themselves.

But I also think we probably have to help them a little bit. And we have to be open to realizing that people are not yet at the point where they can just go and learn about something we have to be out there, speaking, doing things like this being visible, so that people can learn about us. And that’s not always the most comfortable, being a visible trans person is not always comfortable, you’re going to get questions, you’re going to get comments. But my view, unless I’m feeling particularly angry that day, is I would rather it comes to me than someone else.

So someone’s going to say something offensive to me whether it’s intentional or not, I would rather school them on it, and make sure that the next time they come across a trans person in their day to day life, they are polite and respectful. So that was a very roundabout way of saying that, what I hope is that we can provide a space where trans people are more and more respected, where they feel that their voices are equally heard, and where they feel that people who are in HER as a space are actively trying to learn about them, have resource to learn about them, and do not see them as any less than because they’re trans.

Imara Jones: Yeah, it’s interesting, because what you’re pointing to is that it has to be intentional that because of the state of the world, we can’t expect people who are cis to encounter trans people on a dating app, and understand how to behave, essentially, or how to respond in a way that is affirming and not offensive, and that a part of what you have to do is actually to engage and teach your audiences in a conversation about the type of space that you’re creating, who is there, and the way in which to interact with people who are different. And I think that that is totally a different way of approaching these apps, which largely see themselves as transactional, right?

That you’re coming, you swipe left or swipe right. There’s the connection, and that’s the value proposition and then they move on, they don’t have any other thing. But to kind of present the table to you. And what you’re saying is that, no, we have to present the table, create the room, shape the conversation, so that we can create a space that works for everybody. And I think, I think it’s so true, I hadn’t thought about it like that before.

Max Slack: I just think that it’s not enough to be gently trans-inclusive, I think you have to be explicitly and loudly trans inclusive in everything that you do. And that doesn’t just sit inside dating apps, but for the purpose of this conversation in what we do. You know, I had a feedback session with my CEO. And I was like, “We’re doing great on the trans stuff. Let’s do more, more of it. I want to see more of it all the time.” And I work with brands predominantly, that’s the main part of my job is working with advertisers. And I can see how much difference it makes when a brand comes to me. And they are not just like, “Oh, we want to do like an LGBTQ campaign,” and here’s two like, cis white gay guys like, Okay, great. But let’s actually do something about trans people. And let’s do some educating rather than some just token celebrating.

Imara Jones: Well, of course, you know, in this world, advertisers are really essential. That’s an understatement. And so the fact that you’re seeing interest from advertisers underscores the importance of what you’re doing and why the app needs to continue down the road that it is. I’m wondering if there is an anecdote inside the company or that you’ve heard of or that you’ve come across yourself of a couple that is either totally trans, where it’s two trans people, or is a cis and a trans person that have come together on your app? Are there any stories that you have that kind of underscore what happens on a personal level when things are going right in the space like HER, on a platform like HER?

Max Slack: So our incredible head of community Melody is responsible for a US movie night that we run every week. We’ve been running it every week since the beginning of COVID, which feels forever ago now. And I know that several relationships have come out of it. But on a recent meeting, she was telling us about a couple who, one of them has just come out as trans. And the reason that they have been able to do that is because of that group of people. So because of that community space that was created, initially by us as a platform, they have have been able to come out, to change their name to change their pronouns.

They were in a safe community where they felt that they could come out. They are living authentically and are now in a relationship which reflects that. And on a personal level, as someone who has had relationships prior to coming out, as Max, I can understand how different those relationships are, how much more authentic, how much more relaxed, how much more engaged I can be, when I being exactly myself in a relationship. And I think it sounds to me from that brief anecdote that I heard that that person has found the same thing. 

Imara Jones: Wow, the ability to live authentically. Well, I really appreciate you coming on and taking the time. today. I think this underscores why we have to have trans people in leadership everywhere, because it clearly makes a difference and can make places and spaces better for everyone. And I just want to extend my appreciation to you for doing that. And to HER for doing that. Because I think it makes a difference. Now, personally, you don’t need the app because you already have someone. But for all of us who are not as lucky as you are, I want to thank you for helping to create a space where both community and romance are possible.

Max Slack: Thank you. Thank you for doing the same thing. I think being a trans person in leadership…there needs to be more of us. Thank you.

Imara Jones: Absolutely. Thank you so much. That was Max Slack, Head of Global Partnerships for the dating and social app HER.

Thank you for joining me on the TransLash Podcast. Now, listen all the way through to the end of the show for something extra. I’m Imara Jones. If you liked what you heard, please go to Apple Podcasts to rate and review us. You can listen to TransLash wherever you get your podcasts. Check us out on the web at translash.org to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @translashmedia, like us on Facebook and tell your friends!

TransLash podcast is produced by TransLash Media by Futuro studios. The TransLash team includes Ruby Fludzinski, Oliver-Ash Kleine, Montana Thomas, Tyler Wilson, and Yannick Eike Mirko, and our intern is Marana Munson-Burke. The Futuro studios team includes Nicole Rothwell, Jess Alvarenga, Stephanie Lebow, Julia Caruso, Leah Shaw, Elisheba Ittoop, Rosana Cabán and Gabriella Baez. Our digital strategy is handled by Daniela Capistrano, the music you heard was composed by Ben Draghi and also courtesy of ZZK Records.

Alright, TransLash Fam, what am I looking forward to next week? Well, first of all, there’s President’s Day and like, to have a President’s Day where I’m actually not embarrassed is going to be a relief, although I agree with everyone that we should do away with President’s Day and transfer it over to Election Day and make Election Day a holiday. Duh. But that would be too much like, right?

Speaking of President’s Day, and hang in there with me cause this is not a trans related book, but I just finished this weighty tome, this 1000 page book, and it took me a year to read it. I kept wondering why in the world, I wasn’t finishing the book last year, y’all. And then I was like, wait a minute, I’ve actually read three books. Oh, I’m okay. But it is a deep dive into the presidency of Grant. And that may seem boring. And I know all of you have already turned me off already.

But for those who are still listening, what’s amazing about it is, one: just to learn about someone’s genius that you didn’t know about, and he did have a genius. The second thing is to learn about someone’s decency. He was incredibly a decent person. And always saw people as equal, like he never saw a difference between Black and white people. And that’s just the way that he was born. And there’s no reason why that should have happened in the mid-19th century. But people can be decent at any time. And I think that that was a really important thing. And thirdly, so much of the two terms of the Grant administration–the unfinished business around Reconstruction, and around racial reconciliation in this country, is really the unfinished business of the Grant administration.

We are living the unfinished business of his time as President. He saw it that way, he saw the quest for racial justice as the defining moment for him, as the thing that would redeem the Civil War, and in his dying breath among his lasting regrets was that America never fulfilled its promise on that. And I think it’s worth a read, but maybe just skip to the middle of the book, so you won’t have to read three books in one all year. And that’s what I got.

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