We Are Family

Transgender community members Gracie Cartier and Jacob Rostovsky on LGBTQ solidarity, the pros and cons of a separate Trans Pride celebration and living authentically.

BY MARK ARIEL  |  PHOTO BY DUSTI CUNNINGHAM

First off—please tell us a little about yourselves.

Gracie:I am Gracie Cartier aka Madame Jeuge (My IG is @madamejeuge). I’m a 40 year old Glam Ma originally from the hard core streets of Philadelphia (North Philly’s Finest). I am an artist and Nite Life’s Disco Diva living my best authentic life here in La La Land while navigating through this beautiful yet challenging world. 

Jacob: I am 28 years old and born and raised in Los Angeles. Well, mostly I’m a valley boy but have been living West Hollywood adjacent for about eight years now. I live with my fiancé, Jason, and our two dogs and cat. Right now I am an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist earning my hours towards licensure. I work part time at Being Alive Los Angeles with the HIV+ population and at Gateways Mental Health Hospital as a forensic clinician. I absolutely love it. In my “spare time” I work on developing and running and organization called Queer Works, www.queerworks.org, which is working to reinvent the ways in which the Queer population accesses and receives mental health services.

Jacob Rostovsky: “It’s very easy to forget that our entire movement as a community was started by a trans woman of color. We were there fighting through gay marriage rights, it’s time the community is there for us.”

Recently a few leather men expressed disapproval of the new International Mr. Leather, Jack Thompson, because he is trans. Do you feel supported by the gay community?

Gracie: Personally—I feel that, for the most part, the gay community has been supportive of the trans community. I’m fortunate to have some amazing gays in my corner. However I know that may not be the same for other trans folks. Do I feel that the gay community could step it up in supporting us in other ways… absolutely. Posts and pics about “TransLives Matter” on social media shouldn’t be your only outlet of support. How are you showing up in your day to day when you see a trans person on the street that you may not know.  Are you extending love, kindness, a word or ear in that very moment? 

Jacob: This question brings up a lot for me. I identify as a transgender gay male, which means I was born female, transitioned to male and am sexually attracted to men. I’m engaged to a cisgender gay male who has been nothing but supportive, accepting and a vocal and active champion for Trans rights. I am extremely lucky to have him, as he is me. With that said, most of my experience as a gay trans male is has either been met with exclusion or fetishizing. When a cisgender gay male finds out I’m trans the first reaction is usually “when can I see you naked” or “when can I try you.” While that’s nice and all, I’m not a piece of meat to “try” or an item off someone’s bucket list. If I’m not met with that then I’m met with “girls don’t belong in our space” or “sorry, this is a man’s only event.” Last time I checked I was a man, and if you don’t believe me check my ID. But I get it, the gay community is super fascinated with penis, and if you don’t have one then how can you really be gay. That’s just my experience. I can’t really speak to the experience of a trans woman, but from what I’ve seen they are often left out of conversations even more.

But all that aside, I really think there are some fantastic opportunities for the gay community to be supportive of the trans community, especially around Pride season. Whether or not they partake in these opportunities is another question. It’s very easy to forget that our entire movement as a community was started by a trans woman of color. We were there fighting through gay marriage rights, it’s time the community is there for us.

Gracie Cartier: “We all deserve the right, freedom and power to celebrate ourselves and others no matter what branch of the LGBTQ family tree you’re on. It’s all extensions and branches of Pride.” 

Do you feel that the need for a separate Trans Pride celebration is a reflection on LGBTQ solidarity?

Gracie: I believe it is simply an expansion of our pride and solidarity. I don’t see it being a problem with us celebrating ourselves within our trans family and also the LGBTQ community as a whole. We all deserve the right, freedom and power to celebrate ourselves and others no matter what branch of the LGBTQ family tree you’re on. It’s all extensions and branches of Pride! 

Jacob: I often think about this question on my own. In one way I’m always blown away by Trans Pride and how much it grows each year. I think it’s really awesome we have a community event and somewhere to go where we will be met with acceptance and safety. However, it saddens me that this couldn’t happen at general Pride. Every time I’ve been to Pride looking for anything trans related—I can’t find it. That shouldn’t be the case, regardless of us having our own event or not. The other issue is that while Trans Pride is a place for trans people, it doesn’t allow allies to be exposed to our community unintended. The T (along with the B) is very much forgotten in the LGBTQ acronym. By hiding away at our own event it just removes us even further from the acronym. It would be awesome to take the Trans Pride event and put it smack in the middle of Pride where people would have to get through us to go to everything else. Then there would be no possible way we’d be ignored.

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you would like to share with our readers?

Jacob: I think it’s really important to emphasize the work that’s being done around mental health and stigma in the trans community, as well as the LGBTQ community as a whole. If you are interested in doing any work and being involved please visit my website, www.queerworks.org, as well as follow me on Instagram, @jrostovsky. We are always looking for volunteers and individuals who’d like to make a difference in the community. Also please check out the amazing work Being Alive Los Angeles does with the HIV+ population. We are working on adding a component for trans competent mental health care as we speak. 

Also, never stop fighting for what you believe in and be yourself. In a time that is so troublesome and scary it can be really hard to live authentically. I am always here for my community. Please reach out to me via instagram or Queer Works if you need someone to fight with you.