Diane Anderson-Minshall of Advocate.com recently conducted an interview with transgender singer Mina Caputo, once known as Keith Caputo, the front-person for the popular rock band LIFE OF AGONY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On how she knew she was different before she even hit puberty:
Caputo: “When I was like 8 or 9 years old I started cross dressing. I used to go through my aunt’s drawers when nobody was home and I used to steal her lingerie.”
On how she first thought she was a gay man, experimenting with men and hanging out at transsexual bars:
Caputo: “I really didn’t even know the word transgender back then. I just though, OK I’m a transvestite or I’m a gay male but I love presenting myself as a woman.”
On being skittish of taking black market hormones since her parents died of drug overdoses:
Caputo: “The last thing I was going to do was starting shooting herself with something, I didn’t know what it was. So I didn’t go that route, even though I thought, ‘Oh my god, I want to be there, how do I do that, turn this male self into my true female self?'”
On how becoming a rock star delayed her transition:
Caputo: “I was very boxed in that metal thing. The first album I’ve ever done was released and then it pretty much exploded in Europe and I kind of had no choice but to leave school. I didn’t want to sing in a band. That wasn’t really what I set out to do. I wanted to go to Julliard. I wanted to play the classics, get good grades… and I pictured myself living more of a feminine life then at 19 when this whole alpha male world just pretty much took over. I was in hell for years. . . It was more of a sense of responsibility and not getting labels down… the management, the band, and the fans. And I mean, we were a really, really really, really big band. We were doing concerts in Europe where 60 to 100 thousand people were showing up.”
On quitting LIFE OF AGONY:
Caputo: “I couldn’t deal anymore. Actually I quit because we came too big. Band members were becoming the cliché rock and roll, sleeping with women every night, the drugs, everything and it was just like, ‘Argh, I can’t deal, gotta go.’ [I left at] the pinnacle and height of our success, and yeah I needed a break. I needed a break from the label, I needed a break from everything and everyone.”
On whether he she plans on having bottom surgery any time soon:
Caputo: “The whole penis… I’m OK with that down there, you know. Most people don’t realize that there’s more to being a woman than just, I guess, putting on dresses and wearing makeup and your genitals. [People think] you have a male body and a penis so that makes you the man. But they can’t dig deep enough unless they really want to understand what’s going on in the subconscious mind and what I like to call subconscious sex.
“Not only is the environment changing, but people don’t realize the human being is changing, our culture is changing. I see more and more trans women and trans men and it’s just, it’s so ironic, it’s so cosmic.
“A lot of people I did come out to, friends, and family members and stuff, like people that I thought would really support me really let me down. And people that I was a little bit fearful to come out to pretty much completely had my back. I’m from a crazy Italian family so all the Italian men in my family are like stereotypical bruisers — too much testosterone, most of the men in my family have gone bald, tattooed from head to toe, vicious looking, but deep down inside they’re like flowers. I have many cousins like that that I thought would like never get it or understand and they were like, ‘We always knew something was different about you.'”
On feeling lucky that her physical metamorphosis from angry rocker dude to the fierce female musician she is today, may have been easier than some women’s:
Caputo: “I’m really lucky, I’m really tiny, I’m very fit. So I’m blessed. I went to the Guitar Center yesterday to shop for some guitars, and the guy’s like, ‘Hi, ma’am, how are you?’ I get all gushy inside because it’s just so nice to finally [be recognized as a woman]. And my breasts aren’t even that big, you know? But the hormones have really, really changed my body a lot. I have a great doctor. He’s amazing, he’s like my psychologist too.”
On how she’s already faced discrimination Stateside:
Caputo: “I’ve had run-ins on the train, ignorant people, you know, calling me ‘he-she’ or ‘he-man.’ If anyone tries to screw with me, I will not hesitate to cut somebody up like a piece of meat. I will do anything and everything to protect myself. I mean I don’t want to hurt anybody but if someone lays their hands on me, I’m going to shank somebody. My father’s been in prison his whole life, so just because I’m wearing a skirt doesn’t mean I don’t got big balls, OK? Because I will not hesitate to do anything and everything to protect myself.”
On how her transition is still a huge topic of discussion among rock music fans:
Caputo: “I try explain to people without pushing it in people’s face too. I’m not like an activist. If someone needs my help I’d be glad to. I think it’s hysterical actually that I get these people that have been listening to me for like 20-plus years and they think they stand for something else like brutality and masculinity but meanwhile I have these guys asking me to take me to dinner.
“I’m really happy that the media really picked up on it because it was kind of like a big step three years ago, but now it seems like a full circle sort of happened and I’m happy. Newspapers all across Europe… I’m on the front page, and everybody was talking about me when I was Europe and it was like, At least get the story straight. Girlfriend is keeping their genitals and it’s not just about that.”
Read the entire interview from Advocate.com.