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Nov. 29, 2022

A Haircut, Pronouns, and Complete Authenticity | Cristina Marcello

After years of feeling like they were playing a role society had created for them, Cristina Marcello took a stand by cutting off all their hair - and found their true identity in the process.

"Once you allow yourself to be your authentic self, you stop caring about what society says you should or shouldn't do. Once you get past one thing society tells you not to do, it opens up any possibility for you to just be who you want to be."


After years of feeling like they were playing a role society had created for them, Cristina Marcello took a stand by cutting off all their hair - and found their true identity in the process.

"Once you allow yourself to be your authentic self, you stop caring about what society says you should or shouldn't do. Once you get past one thing society tells you not to do, it opens up any possibility for you to just be who you want to be."

Cristina Marcello is a nonbinary trans individual who found their authentic self by exploring their gender identity. They advocate for the transgender community and strive to create a world where humans can just be humans.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

1. How Cristina's appearance has played a role in their life and how they found their authentic self.

2. How their experience as a nonbinary trans person has given them insights into gender.

3. How society's expectations of gender can impact people's lives.

 

This is Cristina Marcello's story...

 

Cristina Marcello went to an all-girls Catholic high school. They began questioning their gender identity in high school and came out as queer in their sophomore year. In college, they made a documentary about gender, which led them to realize they were trans. They then cut their hair short that summer and came out as trans to their parents.

 

Cristina has over ten years of experience in broadcast and audio production. They are the Connect Manager at Podchaser, where they provide coaching on guest booking, podcast marketing, and client relations. They are also the Executive Producer for Robert Manni Radio on KCAA radio and the Associate Producer for Inside the Vault with Ash Cash. Cristina became a certified audio engineer at The Institute of Audio Research and began their career in terrestrial radio as the Executive Producer of an AM/FM news radio station and Host of a public affairs show.

 

Resources:

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Other episodes you'll enjoy:

Losing Hair, Finding Strength and Authenticity | Rebecca Lerch

Finding a Sense of Self after an Unexpected Divorce | Heather Torres

 

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Transcript

[Matt Gilhooly]
We'll just dive right in, maybe just paint a picture of, like, who you were moving into this.

[Cristina Marcello]
Yeah, sure. So let's go back in the time machine. And I'm going to go back to high school for the moment. And we can envision a young Cristina Marcello, long brown hair, hair, brown eyes, pretty medium build, if you will. And I went to an allgirls Catholic high school. So that is probably where the story will begin for this journey. I think it's fun now, it should be noted. Right, matt and we'll get into some of this later. A lot of feelings that I've had and who I am and my authenticity, I think, has been who I have been my entire time. But it is funny to look back and look like, hey, yeah, I had long brown hair. I used to get press on nails, and I would occasionally get some makeup done. I went to an all girls Catholic high school, so I used to wear a skirt to school, a uniform. And so looking back at that time period, I think to myself, was I living my most authentic life? In some ways, yes. In a lot of ways, I've always just been outward in my expression, I talk about wearing a skirt. When I went to school, we also had the option of wearing pants. And so as much as I bring up the skirt thing and that absolutely happened, I got picture evidence to show you. That being said, I would primarily wear pants. And I think that it's a beginning into this conversation. It's not the crux of my identity, but I think it's a good place to start. So looking at my experience and going to an all girls high school, so I went to an all girls high school and think that there are a lot of things that are maybe associated with that. First and foremost, maybe clickiness or this ultra girl mode, if you will, or just girls hanging out together. It's going to be so caddy slumber parties. Yes. Lumber parties and boys. That wasn't necessarily my experience. And from my experience, I got to see a bunch of young individuals who maybe they all had similar anatomy, but at the end of the day, they represented themselves in a myriad of different ways. And so we had a brother's school, which was all boys. And in looking at that, even in and of itself, I kind of started to question certain things. High school was a big time for me. I started to question some things. Is money real? Some of those big thoughts, just like, wow. And in looking at some of the differences in between gender right. Typically we're supposed to look at a young female at the school that I went to. Right. She should probably like Taylor Swift and makeup and drink whatever iced coffee or whatever's going on.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Pumpkin spice.

[Cristina Marcello]
Pumpkin spice. PSL. Yes. But that's not always the case. And I think that that has frustrated me for a long time and beyond high school. I think that in society, even within certain dynamics of my family, there's supposed to be a gender role, and the person who exhibits or who holds that gender is supposed to fulfill that role. And I rarely see that happen, Matt. I often see people who are women, and they are strong and they are construction workers, and they hold it down. They're the people doing the heavy lifting. And I've seen men who are emotional, and isn't that beautiful? I think that is so beautiful. And I think there's a lot to unpack with myself, who I am and my authenticity. I'm going to spill the tea and I'm going to release the cat out of the bag, if you don't mind, Matt.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Do it.

[Cristina Marcello]
But I'm nonbinary. I am trans. I am nonbinary. And I think that we have a lot to learn from one another when it comes to gender. I think that there are some insights that maybe people who are non binary and trans have maybe explored to a deeper extent, and that's not to shame or throw shade at people who are not trans or who are not nonbinary. But I think when you live in experience, then you have a deeper understanding of what that experience is. And so I'd love to have some of these conversations with you, Matt. I know I've just been going on and on, but I'm happy to have these conversations.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Yeah, I think it's interesting, too, because you do you start from this moment, and I'm sure it probably went earlier in your childhood, but this moment in high school in which you're in an all girls and it was a religious it was a Catholic school, right? And so that's a whole other ball of wax and no shade either way either. But there's a lot of norms, right, or quote unquote norms, we should say, that society has placed on genders, if you will, and until fairly recently, in the human experience, right, we haven't really talked about it. And so I think, to your point, a lot of people were just conditioned as we grow up that, you know, boys play with like GI. Joe and girls play with Barbies and girls like pink and boys like blue. And full disclosure here, I was always that boy. That was the crier, was the emotional boy. And it was like, it did it felt like a shame. Like, I wasn't supposed to do those pieces. Now is this older version of myself. Those are the parts I celebrate. Like, that, like, makes me a human. It doesn't matter the gender definition, right? Like, I want all the experiences across that emotional I want to, like whatever I want to, like, at that point, really. Right, and so you're in the 16 year old version, you said that some of you it felt like some of it was this authentic experience, but I'm assuming some of it felt like more questioning or did you feel out of place at those moments?

[Cristina Marcello]
So even back in middle school, elementary school, I remember there was this one girl, and she would wear a bun every day, and she would wear pants, and she would wear a polo shirt. So polo shirt, khaki pants, bun every single day. And I just thought it was almost like, I hope I don't end up looking like her. And, you know, why? Where was that coming from? And so fast forward a little bit. That was on my mind for a little just like this girl, I don't want to look like her.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Why do you think you didn't want to look like her?

[Cristina Marcello]
That's a great question. I think I didn't want to look like her because she looked, and I'll be blunt here with myself, a member of the LGBT community. She looked like a butch lesbian, and I didn't want to look like a butch lesbian because I am not a butch lesbian. I am pan. I like human beings. It doesn't matter if they are male, female, trans, anywhere in between. Outside of that, I just like humans. And so to have this woman that I was looking at, and she was probably three or four grades older than me, looking up to her, quite literally, seeing her and how I could be reflected, it really triggered me, and it made me not want to be that person. And so I think this ties along nicely with where we're going in terms of my hair. And so hair is a really big way that we express ourselves. And so when I got to high school, i, too was rocking this bun. And so now it's coming into like fruition, like, I don't want to be this girl, and then here I am. I'm wearing this bun. I'm kind of becoming this girl, but I'm not her because I feel like I'm being my most authentic self. And so what I mean to some degree of that is I was out sexuality wise. So in probably sophomore year of high school, I came out as queer. I initially came out as by, and then I have evolved in my language and my vocabulary, and now I outwardly and proudly claim pan. And so that's what I mean in terms of my authenticity. And I think that for her, I felt like she was trying to closet herself, and I could see that. And so she would wear this bun, but she would always be a little bit more reserved in who she was. And for myself, I started wearing this bun, but then I was able to go beyond that and express myself vocally.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Do you think that girl that you saw that you didn't want to become, that presentation of yourself later on was probably projecting? Right? Yeah, you were seeing yourself in the future, but worried maybe from society or how others may perceive you because you were perceiving her. Does that make sense? Do you feel like you're projecting?

[Cristina Marcello]
You nailed it.

[Matt Gilhooly]
But do you think it was more society driven? You didn't want to be perceived that way. It wasn't necessarily that the way she was presenting herself was any problem in general. You just didn't want society to see you as such, and you felt you were going where you were kind of you don't want to go that direction, but you kind of work anyway.

[Cristina Marcello]
Nailed it. Matt, I think you summed it up perfectly. I saw the way society looked at her myself being a part of society with internalized biases and homophobia and internalized whatever have you, and I could see how she was looked upon in society, and I did not want to be looked upon that way.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Do you think that that modified how you behaved intentionally? Do you think it affected how if you had no, if you didn't have society there, do you think you would have moved forward differently, or do you think that it kind of pushed you down this particular aisle in which you were actively trying not to be said person or said appearance?

[Cristina Marcello]
I think there were a lot of subtleties to it and a lot of things that were happening on the subconscious level. So for myself, I was always very active. So at the same time as I'm seeing this girl wearing this bun, hey, I'm wearing a bun all the time as well, and I'm wearing basketball shorts, and I have basketball practice. I have softball practice. I have crew. I have a bunch of things I have to be doing as well. So I think that a lot of that was internalized on the subconscious level, hey, you know, I'm going to wear what I want to wear to some extent, but I know how society views me. And so with that being said, there's a lot of moments in my life where I would find myself maybe having to get ready for an event and a mixer or a dance and going to find something to wear for that and the dysphoria that would come from those moments of trying to be something that I'm not. And I think yeah, I think that's.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Common for many people. I think a lot of times, especially in that time period of growing up, I think we are so performative, right? Especially until we get to a place in which, like, humans can just be humans and everyone is okay with that.

[Cristina Marcello]
Right.

[Matt Gilhooly]
I feel like we're very informative into as simple as you have to wear a certain name brand or people associate you with a certain class that you don't want to be associated with or you think you don't want to be. Right? I mean, that girl that you looked at and you were concerned about, I mean, she could have had her hair in a bun because it was just easy, and she didn't care, right? She could have been wearing a polo because that was the only thing her family could get for her. And then we kind of create this world in which our fears are, like, projected out there, and then we kind of create. So I know you were kind of getting your way to there, but, you know, your pivotal moment really has to do with your hair, right? And kind of finding that authenticity. Like, how did you get to that point, and what did it do for you? Or what did it change for you?

[Cristina Marcello]
Actually, we want to go back further for a second match. So let's take a let's go in the way, way back machine. Cristina Marcello, three years old, model. I used to model. I used to be in pageants. I was on covers of magazines, in commercials. So my appearance has played a large role in who I have been for a long time. So then we fast forward. I talk about going to this all girls school. So I'm trying to find myself, my identity, and all of those pieces have made up who I was at that time. I then found myself going to college, and freshman year of college is when I had a little bit more freedom and a little bit more time away from society, time to discover who I am, time to discover who other people are and just realize that whatever small town I come from or whatever large city I come from, it doesn't really matter. There are so many different unique people out there, and it is okay to be who you are and who you feel comfortable being. And so with that said, I find myself in between freshman year and sophomore year. And that summer I come home, and I have struggled talking to people about this for a really long time because there is so much societal pressure. And so I had a hard time talking about it with my parents in particular, because there are things that you don't want to let your parents down for. You don't want them to feel like they're going to miss out on something. Something that I was worried about for a long time is I come out as trans, and, oh, my gosh, what does that mean for if I ever want to get married or, you know, any of these things? So I'm now in freshman year of college. I find myself in a documentary class. In this documentary class, I decide to do a piece, a whole documentary on gender, what it is, what it isn't, and how it impacts my life. During that, Matt and I found this clip about a few months back. I actually said on that clip, my biggest fear is that I'm trans. So I'm having these thoughts during freshman year of high school and reflecting on it and why and why and why, and then I see people that I emulate see people that I would prefer to look like in certain regards. Of course, we all have expectations of ourselves and what we'd like, but mine didn't necessarily align to what society would have thought my views would have aligned with. And so that documentary really led to a lot of deep thought. And from that time, I still was not able to use the word trans, but I did know that I wanted to cut my hair. And so I went home that summer, I had a conversation with my parents, and I was pretty vague about it, but I told them that I wanted to cut my hair really short, and that's what I wanted to do, and they were supportive of it. And so I went to a salon with my mom. We just chopped it all off. I want to say the rest is history, but the story continues to build from there because I still at that point, was not able to say, I am trans.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Do you after you got that hair, like, when they spun you? I always picture, like, this movie montage of someone goes through this big hair transformation. Did you see it as it was happening, or did you see it after it was done?

[Cristina Marcello]
I saw it as it was happening, happening, and it was like, whoa, it felt really great, but so scary. So scary because unknown.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Well, an unknown, too. But what I think about when you say scary is your fears. Seeing the girl in the bun, your fears doing the documentary and saying, like, I'm scared to be what if I'm trans? Like, your fears are being projected. Like things are actually unfolding. And those fears were really just like, oh, I'm kind of moving in this direction. You're seeing the things, you know, society looks at them a certain way, those particular fears, and then you're kind of making them happen.

[Cristina Marcello]
Yeah.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Was it a relief at all?

[Cristina Marcello]
And you know what? It was a relief, Matt. It was a huge relief. There was a moment of shock and like, wow, I did it. But then, I mean, ever since then, it's just been moments of, wow, I can't believe I did it, but I'm so glad I did. And there was a little bit of hesitancy afterwards, like you're talking about in terms of how is society going to handle this. So I went back to school. I went to school in New York City, in Queens, one of the most diverse areas in the world, and I would go on the subway and in Queens, again, the most diverse city in the world. I was getting looks, and it was a noticeable difference between before I got my haircut and after I got my hair cut. And I'm happy to divulge a little bit deeper into that, Matt. But one thing I want to say, and I want to make sure that I get out, is once you go against the grain and you give in to yourself once you allow yourself to be your most authentic and true self and you stop caring about what society says you should or shouldn't do. Once you actively do something like myself, I actively cut my hair even though society told me not to. Once you do that, you open yourself up to be an even more authentic version of yourself because there are so many things that society tells us not to do. Society wants us to be quiet. Society wants us to fall in line or do whatever society wants us to do, which prevents us from being our creative selves that we are. And so this moment in particular allowed me to go ahead and just say, you know what, whatever. People are going to look at me and I'm still here and I'm still living and I'm still okay. What their opinion of me really doesn't matter because I'm going to go home and have a nice meal and be with my loved ones and that's it. So I just wanted to open up that as well. That once you get past one thing that society tells you not to do, it really opens up any possibility for you to just be who you want to be.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Was there something that actually triggered your desire to cut your hair? Like, was it doing that documentary or was it like seeing in your research, seeing others that were kind of living, more authentically, I think everything combined and.

[Cristina Marcello]
Then also the zeitgeist of it all. And it was like I was watching this YouTube and I'm going to shout out this YouTube Beaver Bunch. There was this YouTube series back when I was in high school. So we're looking at like the by two thousand and ten s. I mean, I graduated in 2010, so before that there was a YouTube called The Beaver Bunch and there were LGBTQ individuals on that podcast and it was essentially a podcast. It was a YouTube and they would each have one day of the week. And so somebody was a lesbian and they had Monday and somebody was by and they had Tuesday. And then, you know, for a while I was watching. I'm like, what is this person doing on this show? Like, why do they have a CIS guy on this show? I mean, I guess it's good to have a different perspective. And then I found out that they were trans and I felt something. I didn't know what I felt, but I felt something.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Was it fear?

[Cristina Marcello]
I think it was both fear and acknowledgment. That that could be my truth and I didn't know that. I think that there's some level of we don't talk about this, Matt, like we don't talk about what it is to be trans, that you can cut your hair. There are a lot of different things that you can do to your body to make it be something that you feel comfortable living in. And so to see that first was eye opening for me, I think, to say the least. From there, I have this experience where I'm now doing this documentary. I'm diving even deeper into my sexuality, but also my identity. And it just got to the point where it was like, I'm done. I just have to be my authentic self. I also want to shout out Ruby Rose, who was an idol of mine at the time. And I brought Ruby Rose's photo in to the salon, and that was what we styled it after, which also, to some level, I didn't bring in a man's photo, but I am not a trans man. I am non binary. And so it does not necessarily mean that I have to fall into one lane or the other. I guess I'll digress their map, but I hope that answered that question.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Yeah, it's just interesting having these conversations because so much of what you've said so far, I think is relatable to anybody because so many of us grew up with society telling us I mean, back to what we were saying earlier, earlier in the conversation, as society tells us we have to act and be and look and do certain things to be validated. Right. And so, like, even to your point of being like a three year old model, like, your existence at that point in time was based on people's approval and, like, winning things and performing at that age. And then, you know, so much of it is attached to the way we look. And it's like, why? When you actually stop and think about it, who cares what length your hair is? That has zero definition of who you are as an individual. And some of us can't grow hair. Like, there are people that just can't grow. So what does that mean if they can't even do it right? And so it's so much of it like this conversation. Yes, you're talking about things that a lot of people one, don't understand yet because there aren't enough of these conversations out there. But at the same token, it feels very, like, familiar. Right. And that these feelings, all these feelings that you went through of just trying to perform to some standard that is actually not written anywhere. Or like my dad, after my mom died, I felt that I had to be the strong one. I couldn't cry. I couldn't do these things. I mean, I don't think you ever told me that that was the expectation. I put that on myself based on who knows what. So I'm wondering how much of your journey was probably just like, self inflicted society pressure, right, of you assuming not to minimize it, but assuming that other people would feel a certain way about you if you did something against the grain.

[Cristina Marcello]
Yeah, and so I think that there's a few things because I come into this conversation just knowing myself and my experience. And you're definitely right to some extent, I would allow society to kind of hold me back. And by allowing society to hold me back, I was holding myself back. So it was self inflicted in that. But I should know again, you know, a lot of these pieces of who I am, a lot of pieces of my identity which go beyond clothing, which go beyond my hair. But those pieces I was solidly fighting to be myself the entire time. And as I mentioned, I would dress a little more masculine. I would partake in what society would deem more masculine activities, but pushing the boundary as far as I could get before I would get questioned. And what happened with this haircut is I stopped caring about that boundary of when I would get questioned because what does it matter? My answer to that question. I have little kids come up to me too. And I love when little kids come up to me just because they are genuinely curious. They are not coming to say, they'll ask are you a boy or a girl? And it's so cute and it's like, thank you for asking. Neither, but thank you. You just heard the conversations in a different way with children, but they just come from such a nice and kind place of trying to understand. And I think we have grown up to be so conditioned with these boundaries and these set roles that we don't allow ourselves to open up our minds to see that there could be a deeper expression or more to it than we allow ourselves.

[Matt Gilhooly]
I was thinking a couple areas I think was the haircut, cutting your hair, was that like the first time where you felt like you were projecting yourself or bucking the system, if you will? Because before if you kept your hair, maybe people would just assume, but now you're like, look, this is how I feel inside as well as outside. Was that any kind of the reaction you had when you did that?

[Cristina Marcello]
Yeah, when I cut my hair prior to that, like I said, I think I would dress masculine and I would do certain things, but I would never push the boundary too far. This was me coming out to the world and saying, I don't care, this.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Is me, strangers, whatever you want to think is fine because it doesn't matter what you think. And so we should address this as well. Your pronouns are they, them, theirs. I'll be honest, how do you navigate this world with these pronouns and other people's conversations and say before we record it, I told you, I said I want to be as respectful as I can and do my best. It's just not something like I don't typically have a lot of people in my circle that use they them. And so how do you navigate this world? What is that experience like for you?

[Cristina Marcello]
Interesting. It's interesting to say the least what I would say is I use they've been their pronouns and I will introduce myself to people as such. Hi, I'm Cristina Marcello. I used to say them they're pronouns from there a few things that I would know. How do I navigate this world using these pronouns with grace, with empathy, trying to be understanding. I understand that these are neoprennels. And so neoprennels as in we have grown our vocabulary to create new words that reflect people that have always existed. We just finally have language that's more descriptive of those people. And so while these people have always existed, again, the language is a little newer. And so I understand that for people it's going to take a little bit of time to unlearn a lot of things that need to be unlearned for them to readily be able to use they them their pronouns in their regular vernacular. That being said, I wish that people who were stuck in a mindset of they them, theirs is a plural, that's a plural word, that they is plural, that it is a word that we use singularly quite often. I don't know who left this. And so like they, I just said it, they left this. Who is they? We don't know. And so it's gender neutral. And so for me, I actually have never said this publicly, Matt, but what I will say to you is that in my world, I think they them, their pronouns is gender neutral. And so before somebody would tell you what their gender is, you would probably just use gender neutral pronouns so that you could be respectful moving. I don't know who you are, so I'm just going to be neutral about it. So in my world, I think my pronouns would be the easiest for everybody to use and that the differentiators between he and she or people use z or whatever you might use, that those might actually be a little more difficult. So for me it's just a little interesting and a little funny because I feel like it should be so easy, but I understand why it's not.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Yes, and we're in different generations, so I'm in my forty s, and so up until, I don't know, the last maybe ten years, it feels that it's more, it's progressively getting more public, I guess, in a sense of more mainstream. That's the word I was looking for. And to that point, I was talking to a friend today before our conversation, and there's a Apple fitness instructor that I follow on Instagram. I'm not going to say her name, but they just had a child and when they refer to their child, they refer to the child as they them and because her and her husband wants the child to declare in which they feel. And I think that's so like what we need to your point of like that's where it should start, right, right. If we're being honest, I think it's going to. Take a little bit longer for people to unlearn and to relearn and to get comfortable. But I think what's nice about what you're saying is that if we can all go into these conversations with the empathy and with the care from your side, my side, that we're doing the best that we can and we're trying to unlearn, if you will, I think that's the best place to start, at least from my perspective. Would you agree? Like, we do our best.

[Cristina Marcello]
I would agree that we just need to be open minded and do our best. One thing that I would add as well is there's a level of respect that goes around it as well. You might not understand why I use they them pronouns. You might not understand they them pronouns at all, but it should be known that I know myself and I know my gender better than you could ever. And I use that for you, of course, as general. I'm not specifically talking to you, Matt, of course, but it should be known that I of course, know myself better than anyone else could know me. And so to actively not use the pronouns that I am asking to be used feels very disrespectful and offensive and presumptuous that you may know myself better. And I don't say that to come off testy, but it is a source spot that I think again needs to be discussed because they, them, their pronouns are again seen as something especially in the hyperpolitical world that we find ourselves in. And this divisiveness that we find ourselves in, it seems as though there are a lot of people who think this is just a new liberal craze. And I don't mean to bring politics into this, but when you live as a trans person, your life is political in terms of what bathrooms can be used, in terms of anything that you can really do. And so I say all of this to say it is not a political statement, it is a personal statement as to who I am.

[Matt Gilhooly]
I mean, I agree. I think it's hard. It's almost like I tell you my name is Matt. I don't want to make this seem small, but I tell you, that's what you call me. And if you start calling me like Jacob, it's also a disrespect. And in a sense of like, you should be the one telling me how you want to be referred to as whatever that pronoun is, whatever your name is. And so I think we just need more conversations like this and I think more open honesty, because I think there are going to be people that just need to be educated, right?

[Cristina Marcello]
Let's have a piece of education right here as well. I'd love to have this conversation, Matt. I am non binary, which again means that I am not on the binary spectrum of gender. And so if we look at a binary, of course, binary, two things. Man, woman. I would be nonbinary, which is neither of those things. Also, all of those things and nothing in between. Also, at times I find that I can be a gender. Now, how can you be more than one thing at once? Because that is life. Because life is full of duality and moments of fluidity. And so we are not in a constant state by any means. Anyway, I introduced that to say I'm agender as well at times. And so by agender, I mean that I do not perform any genders at times. And I also do not believe in gender a lot of the time as well. And so what do I mean when I say I don't believe in gender? Mat? I mean that it's made up. And so I could go ahead and I'll use the word it is a construct. It is a societal construct. I know that that might ping some ears, but what I really mean here is I love to use this example. I was fortunate enough to travel at some point in my life. I've done a few trips to Europe and such. When you travel, you can see that gender is represented in a myriad of different ways. So when we think of your stereotypical American man, he's out here eating steak, pounding a beer, kicking his feet up, watching the game. When you think of a stereotypical man in Europe, Matt, is that the same picture? No, it's not. They're completely different. I might even think of a man in a Speedo and some Gucci glasses, and that might be your typical European man. And so let's break that down. If I took the Gucci glasses and the Speedo, wouldn't that be more on the feminine side? When we look at it within the States point of view?

[Matt Gilhooly]
Yeah, if you look at it depends what glasses you're wearing, right?

[Cristina Marcello]
And isn't that wild? Isn't even just to the point of it depends on what glasses you're wearing. Isn't that mind blowing? And then to just break it down further, then we look at people in Africa, a man in Africa much different than a man in the US. So it just goes on. The more you look at it, the more you examine gender. You can just see it is made up. And so that is why at times I also feel agender because I just don't subscribe to it.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Part of it just makes me think, like, why can't we all just be human? Like we are these living beings having this experience. And, you know, you make the point of fluidity. I mean, just the stories that you've shared in this short time together. Your life has been very fluid. In the experiences that you've had as a child model and then as all girls school conforming to whatever is required of you. There then playing the sports and then cutting your hair and then traveling across the world. Our lives should not be static and neither should all the constructs that are around us and encasing us and whatever. I think honestly there are a lot of constructs beyond what we're talking about here that really limit us as human beings to whatever our potential is and who we want to be.

[Cristina Marcello]
Absolutely. I would refer to another incredibly wise individual and I'm not sure if you're familiar with them, alak Menan. If you are listening to this and you are not familiar with Ala menin, their name is A-L-O-K-S-V-A-I-D-M-E-N-O-N-I believe I got that correct. But they are also nonbinary and they speak to a lot of amazing points, such as what we're talking about today, Matt, being that some of these issues that trans people such as myself encounter are issues that we all encounter. They're just human experiences. There might be parts of my body that I don't like and that I would like to change. I would gander to imagine that everyone on this Earth has experienced that to some degree. Maybe it's not to the degree that I have experienced it, or maybe it's more than to the degree that I have experienced it, but these are all just human issues. And when we talk about trans issues, we talk about gender and we talk about the roles that we're supposed to perform within gender, that's not fair to CIS people either. CIS as in people who are born, their sex matches, their gender, and it's not fair to CIS people either. So these trans issues, these politics that come up surrounding trans people, it is not just my fight. It is not just the trans fight. This is impactful for CIS people because it is impactful for humans. The moment you tell me that I can't use the bathroom because I cut my hair is a moment that should be scary for you as well, because it means that if you act outside of the role that you are supposed to be performing in, there could be backlash for you as well.

[Matt Gilhooly]
You know, I hope people listening to this, especially people that are maybe this is new to them or it's not in their inner circle, that they listen with an open mind and understand that we're having a human conversation right here, right? And that we all deserve the same things, we deserve the same love, we deserve the same rights, we deserve whatever someone else is getting. What is different about me that I can have this right as a white man and you can't have it just because that doesn't make sense when you break it down to just the fact that this is a human experience and this is how you are experiencing the world. And why am I going to tell you how you should be experiencing the world, right? I shouldn't. Or I shouldn't tell you how to do it either. And that was your life like kind of so you cut your hair, right. And the fact that you were scared to become this, you were scared to become the next thing, but at the end of the day, that was because whatever you had grown up, you know, kind of hearing from other people was like kind of creating that fear. When at the end, if you were taught from early on not to say anything about our parents, but if you were taught from early on, that be whoever you are and whatever you are is okay, you're human.

[Cristina Marcello]
Yeah. I should shout out to my parents. I do want to say that they have been incredibly supportive.

[Matt Gilhooly]
That's amazing.

[Cristina Marcello]
Yeah. And I'm so thankful to have them in my corner every day. So I do want to make that note. And Mom's, dad, if you're listening thing, one thing I wanted to say too, though, Matt, is and I don't know if you want me to go there, but I'm going to go there. We talk about this as a human experience. I mentioned the point of maybe there are things that I want to change about my body that other people want to change about their body. It's so interesting when you put in, you just have to insert the word trans and the conversation goes into a different lane. If I were to tell you that a CIS woman went and got implants, I just called a boob job. Like, a woman went out and got a boob job, like, good for her. How much does that impact, really, anybody's day a woman goes ahead, or anybody goes ahead and they get married, they then change their name, now they're Mrs. XYZ and people just change over like it was nothing. It's clearly easy to do. And I don't mean to go on a rant, I don't mean to come across in an aggressive manner by any means, but these are points that I'm passionate about and I just wanted to get them across. We can easily change the way we refer to people when they get married and when people alter their bodies and they are CIS, seemingly, it goes without any discussion for friends of mine that want to, you know, who are trans and they want to what we call top surgery, I jokingly consider that a boob job. Like, if you go get a boob job, like, who cares? We seemingly don't care when it's other people, but we seem to care when it is trans people. So I would just ask that we come back to the same point as a society. Like, we are all human. We are all experiencing this life together. Why put any undue pressure or stress on one another when we already have that in our DayToday?

[Matt Gilhooly]
Especially when it doesn't impact you at all, right? Like the other person, whatever you choose to do really doesn't affect any part of my existence. It is silly, and I'm sorry that you still have to that you fight. But hopefully we get to a point in which these conversations are more common and then we don't have to have the conversation because everything, you know, makes sense in the world for everyone. I mean, I have hope that we'll get there. I feel like the last however many years, I can never pick a number, apparently, but however, I feel like we're talking more and things are more mainstream and hopefully these conversations, hopefully we change one mind in this conversation, right? I mean, that would be a success, right?

[Cristina Marcello]
If you don't mind. And to me, change your mind, as in allow somebody to open up their mind to examine something that maybe they don't personally align with or agree with, but they're able to accept it and digest it. That would be the success for me. I know when we talk about sexuality or transgender or any of these things, there is some level of conversation that can come up around grooming and people trying to persuade other people to change themselves. And I just want to address that for myself. The change that I wish to see in the world is empathy, openness and understanding 100%.

[Matt Gilhooly]
I hope we get there.

[Cristina Marcello]
Yes.

[Matt Gilhooly]
I feel like your generation and the younger generations, there's more of that and maybe eventually when all us old people die away, then we'll have a better experience.

[Cristina Marcello]
I want everybody to stay and I just want us to get along. But it's a big dream.

[Matt Gilhooly]
It is a big dream, unfortunately. But like we said, we're having this conversation now, which I think is important just in its sense of whoever is listening to this, I hope that you just take a moment and just think about it and be willing to understand that that's someone else's journey. It doesn't have to be your journey. It doesn't have to be your experience to understand it. So I like to kind of wrap up these conversations with a question, and this whole time I'm thinking, what would current Cristina Marcello say to that version of you with the long brown hair that we started this conversation with? What could you say to that person right now?

[Cristina Marcello]
Off the cuff, straight up, honest with you? I would tell past Cristina Marcello, cut your hair. Do whatever you want to do to your body. It does not matter because it is your body. It does not impact anyone else, and you will still be the person you want to be. I think what I would also say to some degree is not to be cliche, so I wouldn't want to use these exact words, but it gets better. It's okay to be authentically you, no matter what. Just do it.

[Matt Gilhooly]
We said this before. I mean, I think that truth can be said to anyone, right? Like that advice works for all of us. Just lean into your authenticity. We shouldn't have to be brave about it. But if that's the word we want to attach to just living out loud, then let's do that for more people. Let's make it a safer space for people to just be however they want to be. As long as it doesn't hurt me, why should that matter, right?

[Cristina Marcello]
Exactly.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Well, I appreciate you joining me on the Life Shift podcast. I know this is a conversation that needs to be had, and I'm so glad that we changed the topic. Maybe we'll have you on about audio at some point, but I think this was much richer and really valuable, and I appreciate you.

[Cristina Marcello]
Thank you. And I appreciate you, Matt. I appreciate you being open to have the conversation and creating a safe space for this conversation to be had. I truly, truly thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's an important topic, and I appreciate your willingness to have it.

[Matt Gilhooly]
Well, thank you. And for those of you listening to the Live Shift podcast, if you are enjoying Cristina Marcello, you can tell them to rate and review five stars. Of course, it just helps all of us, and if it does nothing for the charts, it helps fill my soul with goodness, but only if it's a five and only if it's a good review. But anyway, so we'll be back next week with another episode of the Life Shift podcast, and we'll see you next week.