Growing up in Oklahoma, Arin Andrews and Katie Rain Hill knew at an early age that they were transgendered. As a teenager Arin Andrews told his mother it was a matter of life or death when started transitioning, and his mother agreed to do whatever it took to keep her son alive and happy. Katie and Arin fell in love and were in a serious relationship while teenagers. Earlier this year, while both were still a couple, Arin and Katie were part of an ad campaign for Barneys New York. They’ve since broken up, and both penned their memoirs.
Arin Andrews and Katie Rain Hill joined me for an interview this week to discuss their books, their decision to undergo gender reassignment, the specific challenges they’ve faced, advice they have for anyone considering gender reassignment and more.
Candace Rose: Katie, let’s start with you. Can you tell us about your new book “Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition”?
Katie Rain Hill: “I wrote my book “Rethinking Normal”. It’s just my memoir. It’s a different perspective on everyday occurrences through the perspective of a transgender teenager. The main purpose of the book to basically give people an idea of what it means to be transgendered and to debunk a lot of the misconceptions that are affiliated with being transgendered. Arin and I both wanted to inspire people in the LGBT community to go out and follow their dreams and to be who they want to be, and to educate those who maybe aren’t as fluent in the community as others. We wanted to get the information out there to debunk the misconceptions and just give general views of what it’s like to be transgendered.”
Candace Rose: Arin, you wrote “Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life Of A Transgender Teen”. Can you tell us about your book?
Arin Andrews: “Some Assembly Required’ says it in the title. My book’s about – it’s kind of like getting a toy and you have to put it together and you’re kind of disappointed and it’s a lot of work sometimes. That’s what my book’s about. It’s about my life and growing up in a private Christian school, eventually leading to getting kicked out and starting public school and transitioning from there. It’s about all the stories between there and top surgery and starting hormones and getting my mom on board, and my family on board with my brother, and all that stuff. It’s not only about being transgendered, but it’s about being awkward, and what it’s like to hit puberty. Everyone goes through that kind of stuff; and graduating high school It’s a lot of similarities with a lot of people, and then again, I’m transgendered.”
Candace Rose: You were both raised with very supportive moms. How have your mothers influenced your lives?
Katie Rain Hill: “No parent wants to see their child change, especially the way that we did, but right away my mom put her biases and discriminative ideals aside in order to support me and be there for me. She is my number one supporter, and we love each other to bits and pieces. She’s always, always been there for me.”
Arin Andrews: “I can agree with Katie. I don’t think I could have ever gone as far as I did transitioning without my mom. I don’t think I could have ever gone as far as I did transitioning without my mom. The whole reason I’m here today, standing here and sitting here alive is because of my mom. I have very incredible parents, my mom and dad are both great. My whole family is outstanding.
I remember when I started transitioning, I told her it’s a matter of life and death. The only thing I need right now is her support, she gave it to me and we’re here today.”
Candace Rose: When did you come to the decision to undergo gender reassignment?
Katie Rain Hill: “For me, I decided right away. As soon as I told my mom who I was (that I was transgendered) I made her a list of 10 things that I wanted to do. In my transition I wanted to change my name, I wanted to be on hormones, and at the bottom of the list it said I want to get the main surgery. I want to be on the outside how I feel on the inside. I guess I was 15 years old when I actually decided that I was going to transition fully, but I always knew I was transgendered. Since I was a little kid, I always knew that I was a woman. I always knew that I was supposed to be a girl, that I was different from everybody else. I never decided to be like this, but when I was 15 I decided to go through with the big surgeries to become who I am.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced once undergoing this transition?
Arin Andrews: “I think one of the hardest things for me was getting my mom to cut my hair off. That was a big challenge, a huge step when she let me get rid of the long ‘Miley Cyrus hair as she used to say. Another big challenge for a lot of people is finding hormones. That’s a huge thing right now – having hormones available for us to start transitioning with. That was a huge challenge finding that, and also self acceptance and discovering that I can be content the way I am without having to get a million surgeries – that was a huge challenge. Getting to the place I am today and being accepting of who I am, I think that’s the inner transition that we make.”
Katie Rain Hill: “I think everyday is a challenge, but like you said, think how much people take for granted, the little things like getting your hair cut -that was a big thing for you. For us, it’s a big thing for us. People think ‘Oh, it’s just a haircut’, so every single day is a challenge. The little things can be extremely hard, it’s crazy.”
Candace Rose: How are you both doing now?
Arin Andrews: “I’m doing fantastic. I’ve never been in such a great place in my entire life, and of course it’s because I’ve transitioned and I’m happy. I have this drive to live and share my story and help others. I think that’s the best place I can be in.”
Katie Rain Hill: “I agree with Arin. I go to college, I put with midterms, I find friends. I’m living the life that I’ve always wanted to, and I’m very happy with where I am.”
Candace Rose: What advice do you have for anyone who might be thinking of undergoing gender reassignment?
Katie Rain Hill: “For one, it’s hard. It’s painful (the surgery), but I always say we are only two perspectives of what it is to be transgendered. We don’t speak for all transgender people. Some transgender people don’t want to get the surgeries and don’t want to transition with hormones the way we did. But if I was to suggest to someone who wanted to go through the operations and getting hormones, I would say be prepared for a long journey. It’s hard and it’s okay. What you need is to find support, you need to find those people are going to care about you. You need to find at least one person who is going to be there for you because this is a hard journey. Life is hard itself, everyone needs at least one person to make it, especially when you’re going through something like this. My advice would be to find a support group, talk to your family. You need at least one person to be there for you. That’s my advice.”
Arin Andrews: “I can definitely agree with Katie on having that one person to support you because it does mean life or death to all of us, and having that one person can change your life. Also, I think another important thing to keep in mind is be yourself. Be authentic and be true to who you are because that’s the only person you’ll ever be able to be, so why not, and that’s why we’re sitting here today.”
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?