Revised and Updated from original transmuseplanet post July, 2017
In 2009, Ryan Cassata began making headlines in the LGBTQ community when he appeared on the Larry King show, and interviewed by Dr. Drew. The young musician and public speaker had recently begun telling his story of gender identity disorder. Ryan is extremely vocal against bullying.¹ He began touring the United States, playing at LGBT Pride music festivals. On June 21st of 2013, Ryan performed at the Warped Tour’s Ernie Ball’s Battle of the Bands, which was part of an online competition.
It was during the competition for the ‘Battle of the Bands’, where fans had to vote for those chosen to play in the acclaimed tour, that I was introduced to Ryan Cassata. I read his story, his views on being a transgender teen in America, and then listened to his music. After hearing the first song, I quickly had to backspace and cast my vote for this outspoken John Lennon of our genderation. I went back to hearing more of his songs on his You Tube page,² and knew immediately, I had to have a chat with this revolutionary in our community.
To this day, when I hear his song ‘Hands of Hate’, sung with such passion, I can’t help but be boiled over in tears by the end. You can feel his pain, that has resulted from his experiences with hate. Reminding many of us that have tried to forget those turbulent years of high school bullying, that the struggle for lgtqia youth, sadly persist more than ever. Recalling to mind, those fallen angels like Leelah Alcorn, who decided to end the pain rather than endure anymore bullying.
Once introduced to his story, you can’t help but be inspired by his drive, and determination. That passion, triggered by his own stories of bullying, and struggles with gender identity. His desire for a world of one love, filled with unity can only rekindle that inner child in us all, that still strives to see a world of justice, peace, and love for all.
The momentum behind Ryan Cassata, his music, and mission, is contagious and growing. His fans are now in the hundreds of thousands around the world. He has become a brand; launching his own clothing line, respected advocate and role model for countless youth. Spreading a message of peace, respect and one world love for all mankind.
This is one fascinating young man we have to get to know.
TMP: Ryan, you have done so many positive things in the world at such a young age. What drives you to want to make a difference in the world?
Ryan Cassata: Thank you. There is so much ignorance and hatred that can be cured with tolerance. There’s a lot of hate towards the LGBTQ community. I think it would be crazy if I just sat back and let all that hate continue. The time is now to stand up and get things moving towards equality and a better future.
TMP: When you were just out of high school, at a time when most Cis-kids are just thinking about enjoying their summer before college, you were being awarded the Harvey Milk Memorial Award in 2011.³ What did such an honor mean to you, and what advice would you give to other Trans-kids who are fighting for equality?
Ryan Cassata: Thank you. When I first started changing things in my high school, I was changing things in order to make things easier for myself. I had to change certain things so that I could survive high school. I skipped 11th grade; during my senior year, I made it my mission to educate my peers and teachers, so they could pass on the message of acceptance. I wanted my school to accept transgender students by the time I ended school. I knew that if I worked really hard, I could make a difference and make it so much easier for someone else whose transgender that would come along and walk the hallways of my school after me. I did make it easier and I won the Harvey Milk Memorial Award upon graduating high school. This was very symbolic; I was following in his footsteps and doing good in the world. I started doing a lot of volunteer work in the eighth grade. My advice to other people who want to make a difference is to get involved. Volunteer at your local center and if you don’t have one or can’t volunteer for them, then speak out at your school. I used do speeches for the Long Island center and I also did speeches and educating within and outside of my school…on my own. It became my mission as a young teen to change things and I did.
TMP: I’ve been listening to your music for weeks since we first spoke, and I have to say there is not a song that isn’t inspiring, and makes me hopeful about the world. It’s often hard for a Trans-person to stay so hopeful about things, faced with so much discrimination and hate. How do you turn pain into hope, and make such inspiring music?
Ryan Cassata: I always try to find the good in things and in people. I think everyone has a little bit of good and a little bit of love in their heart. I think with education it is easier to make people understand minorities. When you change your perspective to hope, life will be much more positive.
TMP: When did you start performing and writing music?
Ryan Cassata: I was singing and making up songs all though out my childhood. I started actually like, writing music down on a piece of paper and playing it again later when I was about 12. I started guitar at 6 years old, piano at 12, and I started singing seriously at 14.
I had my first performance when I was about 13. My first band was called “The Fenetiks.” When that band broke up, I started playing out solo and I loved it.
TMP: With your many television appearances and interviews for main stream media, is there one that stands out as being the most positive moment for you, whose show and why?
Ryan Cassata: One of my favorite media moments was being interviewed by Long Island Pulse Magazine. They were so open to being educated about the transgender community and they actually cared about what I was doing,my speeches and my music. They didn’t make a being Trans*, a ‘freak show.’ They treated me as a normal person and they wrote an incredible article about me. It’s my favorite so far.
TMP: Your revolutionary spirit is very contagious, but many are bogged down in just trying to survive. Any suggestions on things we all could do in our everyday lives that could make a difference towards spreading universal respect, and equality?
Ryan Cassata: Smile more. Smile at strangers. Go out and do good. Volunteer. Be nice to others.
TMP: What are your hopes and dreams for the Transgender community, and for all of mankind?
Ryan Cassata: I hope the community will become less depressed, and that the suicide rate will decline. I want the transgender community to be seen as another group of people and not a taboo. I want society to accept us.
TMP: You seem to have so many projects going on at the moment. Anything in particular you’d really like the readers of Transmuseplanet to check out, that you are currently working on?
Ryan Cassata: Right now I am working on starting a chest binder fundraiser to raise money for ‘IN A BIND’. More info about this will be released soon.
TMP: Could you tell us about your latest EP?
Ryan Cassata: My upcoming EP will be released on September 13th on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. It has eight songs. It’s a very deep album and I am hoping many people will listen and learn from it.
TMP: Since your touring all over the country, what is your assessment of the level of understanding and support for the Transgender Community in your travels?
Ryan Cassata: So far, San Francisco is the most tolerant and accepting place that I have been too. I feel safe here. I don’t feel safe on the east coast or in my hometown.
TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world, and knew everyone would hear you at once. What would you like them to know about Ryan Cassata?
Ryan Cassata: I want to change the way society thinks, to be more accepting of the LGBTQ community and to other minorities. I will do anything to spread awareness about this and make peace come sooner.
Ryan Cassata is definitely a man on a mission to uplift mankind. He is not only an inspiration but an example of the next genderation of trans activist. He is a reminder of what we all fight for; the day all lgbtqia youth can envision a future of simply enjoying school, planning for college, and a life afterwards without fear.
To change the world, maybe is what every young soul sets out to do, but his story can also be an inspiration to old souls, that we still can.
Anne Frank once said, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” Ryan, and the drive of many trans youth gives us hope, that one day we can see that good in the world.
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- Transgender students face much higher levels of harassment and
violence than LGB students. And these high levels of victimization
result in these students missing more school, receiving lower grades and feeling isolated and not part of the school community according to the study ‘The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools‘ by GLSEN.org and written by Emily A. Greytak, M.S.Ed., Joseph G. Kosciw, and Ph.D.Elizabeth M. Diaz
- Ryan Cassata’s You Tube Channel
- Harvey Milk Foundation: Harvey Milk Foundation works for equality in the Americas, and around the globe.