As well as being able to take a sneak peek at The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody, I also had the pleasure of talking to Cadance Bell about her memoir. Keep on reading to see what we discussed!
PB: There’s a few points in the book where you mention your experience with the representations of transgender people in the media when you were growing up. That must have been hard to both witness and process.
CB: In regard to media representation, there has been a lot of progress. There are some really fantastic things out there like The Last of Us: Part II, First Aid, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—which might not appear to be very progressive with it’s LGBTQIA+ representation on the surface. It’s quite punchy in terms of punching at people who make fun of queer people, and it’s definitely trying to explore issues in a much more nuanced way.
Being young, you are so influenced by whatever it is that’s around you. I was having a conversation with a friend about how kids these days will grow up not knowing what it was like without a phone or an iPad. And I think the same way that society has grown technologically, we’re doing that with our identities as well.
Trans people have existed for thousands of years, and there’s nothing new there. But at some point in the last couple of hundred years, or whenever it was decided, it was funny for a man to be in a dress. It wasn’t just funny; it was also considered emasculating. Which was another way of looking down on women. Because if a man is feminine in any way, then he carries the weakness of a woman.
There are issues within issues for this one, and I think that television had to catch up with women’s rights, then gay rights, and now slowly trans rights. I just hope that books like mine will give that entertainment to people who might not otherwise seek it out, because they don’t want to be shunned, cancelled, talked down to, etc.
I tried to write something that’s for everybody. Something that’s aiming for the middle: not the hard left or the hard right. So that your average person can have a little bit of an experience as to what gender dysphoria might be like, and how it doesn’t completely define you as a person. It’s just something that needs to be fixed, so that your life can be better and then you move on and keep being the beautiful person that you are.
PB: That message was very prominent, even when other themes were being explored in the book. It was always present in some format. I think what you’ve achieved with this book is fantastic, and really important for others to read.
CB: I’m so glad to hear that! I just hope that people enjoy it. At the end of the day, it’s a story. It’s my story, and it’s very personal to me, but I have tried to make sure that people enjoy themselves and come away learning something at the same time.
PB: As journey is a prominent aspect of the memoir (in more than one format), is there any advice you’d like to give to anyone who is unsure about where to start with their own journey?
CB: In regard to “you can’t love someone until you love yourself,” looking at where I am today, in that I’m really, really happy; a full-time author with a fantastic girlfriend, who cannot believe they are here after the events of the book, some of which are quite grim. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t actively sought out the best version of who I could be. I know how cliché it is to say “live your best life”—it’s on t-shirts for goodness sake!
PB: But it’s for a reason!
CB: It is for a reason, that’s exactly right! I think part of the problem is, if you overlook the catchphrase aspect of it, it’s actually incredibly good advice. It has really come to fruition for me. I spent so much energy hating myself and pretending that I was somebody that I wasn’t. But that was energy that could have been love, and love grows. It could have been self-love, or even me finding the love of my life, Amanda. And so, I think that the only way you’re going to be able to do that is to love yourself first.
I would encourage people to do whatever it is they have to do, that doesn’t harm others, but makes them optimal, and to then go from there. If your engine isn’t operating at one hundred percent capacity; if there’s even the slightest thing in your life that you’re putting aside, because you think that dealing with it is going to bog you down. Those shadows that we all like to ignore can often slow us down and create cycles of fear and hatred.
Don’t ever put yourself in the position where you feel like you’re living a half-life. Always try to get to the root of what that is, however that might be. Whether it’s by seeing a counsellor or psychologist, talking to a friend, religion, or maybe you’re into psychedelics. Whatever helps you get to the truth of who you are as a person. Unless you figure that out, the rest of the road’s going to be that much bumpier, and seem a lot longer.
Those moments where you’re really going to need that pull-through, that’s when you’ll need to know who you are. Because when you get blown off course, you need to know what to return to. So, for me that was through kindness, and I transitioned, and that cured my gender dysphoria. But for other people, it might be very different. As long as they realise that there is nothing more powerful than that, then they’ll be okay.
PB: I think it’s a very important process for us as humans. Because, as you said, unless we get to the root of what makes us who we are, we’re not going to be able to be that person.
CB: No! It’s also really inspiring to meet people who know what they’re doing, and have that confidence. You lift your community by the virtue of being proud!
I have one last thing to say, if that’s okay?
CB: I really hope that this book finds a wide audience, and that people realise it’s not just a book about gender transition. It’s a book about growing up in the bush, growing up in the 90’s, being a millennial, and family dynamics.
I really just hope that it helps connect people to LGBTQIA+ kids, or helps them learn a little bit more. But at the same time, they have a lot of fun doing it. Because I think people forget to talk about how much fun pride is!
And to feel gender euphoria is incredible. Just imagine all the hundreds of thousands of trans kids growing up all over Australia. If they had that support, and that love, and if people could understand a little bit of what they’re going through, we can take that burden off them, then they could shine.
PB: Which is so important.
CB: So important. And in the same way that we find it fascinating about technological developments in our lifetime, one day, tomorrow’s generation might find it weird that trans kids were ever controversial. That’s what this representation helps to do.
My book isn’t a book for trans people, or for the hard right, for example. Ultimately, it’s a book for the average person who wants to know what the average experience is. And I really, really hope that readers have a good time with it!
I would just like to say thank you to Cadance for chatting with me about your memoir! It was an absolute pleasure, and I learned so much from you.
The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody is available now from Penguin Random House.