Mykell Hatcher - McLarin: The Makings of a Man
I honestly have no idea where to begin talking about Mykell! I really believe he is one of the sweetest and strongest people I know for he has endured so much, but doesn't let his battle scars hold him back, they propel him forward so that he may thrive. Anyway the first time we meet I was being a funny weirdo (myself lol). There was an open mic night on campus and I was helping set up and the mic was on and only a few people in the room so I took it upon myself to play with mic! Greeting everyone who walked in, made random sounds, and a sang a tune here or there. When Mykell walked in he received the same treatment to the point where we had a full conversation with me on the mic and he settling in preparing to perform!!! It was a pretty chill conversation granted the situation, but from that moment we have grown into good friends. Just having him on my side is a delight for he helps me think in a positive light when life gets tough.
I present Mykell Hatcher - McLarin!
What do you love about Art?
"Art is Freedom and Healing thus being an artist, more specifically a poet, is a pathway I constantly take to freedom and healing."
Birthday: December 30,1992
Spirit Animal: "The Wolf! ArooOOOOoOOOOooooOoooOOoooo!"
"Be-You-tiful. Beautiful because it can pertain to a lot of different things like an essence, a mind, a presence, a way of being, an aesthetic, etc. It's so mufti-faceted even though most people use it to mean someone is really attractive. I like to use it many ways. I don't try to use it first hand when talking about people though - as in I try not to first call someone "beautiful" but something else because the usual connotation is physical. I would say "you have a beautiful aura" or something but I try not to just say, "you are beautiful" at first."
There is so much to Mykell, but here he is at a glance
Briefly tell us your story?
"My story starts on a stormy night in the middle in the cold hospital room...jk that's too much hahaha. But fa real, I think I'll start my story in high school when I first knew for certain (and could put a term to the experience) that I'm a man of transgender experience. Well back then I was a young man of transgender experience, but I digress. Anyway, I was beginning to fall deeper into my depression for there were just a lot of things going not as I planned. I wanted to drop out of school because I didn't feel present in class, was getting low grades, my relationship life was LAWD and I just didn't want to be there anymore - didn't want to be HERE anymore. But I had support through the movement of graduating and getting past my relationship issues so I made it out. Unfortunately, that same type of support wasn't given towards figuring out my gender identity and what that meant to me. I spent a lot of nights looking in the mirror and picturing in my mind what I knew I was supposed to look like and be referred as. I tried to tell my friends to call me "Michael" but that didn't fly very well. No one in my high school - Baltimore City College - knew what it meant to Be a trans person.I put my transition on hold until after I graduated and started really putting in the work when I got to college. I had people start calling me "Myke" despite living on the girls floor for half of my college career. And even in that it was a struggle because I was still letting people call me "she" and saying I was genderqueer so that it was OK. It wasn't though. It made me uncomfortable but as long as everyone else was I would deal. I also didn't want to be separated from the Feminist Movement because the way I had conversations around Feminism - only women could be in the movement. I wasn't a woman but Feminism - the belief that all genders deserve equal rights and treatment in life and under the law - means so much to me. But that soon dropped and by my Sophomore year (Fall 2011), I was better enforcing people to call me "he" along with "Myke."
"The beginning of the more concrete transition for me encouraged me to start working towards getting on Testosterone (T) and during the summer (2012) before my Junior year I was doing Hormone Readjustment Therapy (HRT). I was overjoyed! Yet still couldn't escape the gender dysphoria - a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction towards one gender presentation - I had around my chest. It would keep me up at night, make it hard to walk around campus without anxiety and fear of assault or harassment - especially since I begun using the men's room before I even started T. I would slouch and try to make myself invisible because I felt vulnerable, exposed even with all my clothes on. It was rough and I didn't do much affirmation work to help me feel confident in the my manhood regardless of my body type. Thankfully though, one of my good friends snapped me out of my constant debasement of self and got me fundraising to get my surgery. She made me actually work for what I want rather than hating myself for not being where I wanted to Be. After two semesters of fundraising - and with the support of all my loved ones - I was able to raise the money. I got my surgery on May 30, 2014 and since then have been doing more work to affirm and believe in my process. To give myself room and agency to Authentically and Unapologetically Be Who I Am without regard to anyone who may not agree or believe me other than myself. Just from where I've been to where I am now, I've Learned that Only I can Determine Where I'm Going and How My Story is to Be Told. I AM Mykell M Hatcher-McLarin. I Am a Black Man of Transgender Experience. and I AM the Power to Be Me."
What do you believe are the hardest obstacles when transitioning?
"The hardest obstacles for me during my transition were believing the transition possible, proudly and confidently being who I am, and giving myself the affirmation that however my story unfolds it is one of the truest ones in creation. Getting to this places meant fighting depression and suicidal tendencies, unlearning that manhood has one model, learning (in my affirmation) that one is not born a man but rather becomes one. A phrase that is used often as a slogan for Black Transmen Inc. - a national nonprofit that supports the Being and Wellness for Black Transmen. I commit to doing youth advocacy work with the organization and much more. They were hard and still are hard to continue through yet here I am doing the work and putting in the effort to Be fully present in my own life. Every Storm brings Growth for the Grass to Be Greener on My Side."
Post Top Surgery, do you notice a change within people and yourself?
"I notice that expanded my spirituality and I have become more confident in my body image. I never thought I would get top surgery for a very long time. I thought I would be stuck in the body formation as it was before. But that was because i did not trust in the process, trust in the Universe and their plan to have everything come together in the time that it did. All it took was me believing in that process of raising the money and having the support to get me to my goal and the love in self to know that I deserve to be happy and helped. As for body image, I FINALLY get to be shirtless and do low-anxiety workouts to get my body where I envisioned my body would be in my mind. I noticed that I actually like manual labor and physical fitness a lot as well as the feeling and result of committing to them. They make me feel strong and able unlike I did before surgery. Makes me feel like I can defend myself against danger and fear and protect my loves ones from theirs. I just feel really fucking good! hahaha. "
"In regards to other people, I've noticed that I've been getting a lot of attention recently. It's weird for me because I don't like being in the limelight. The work that I do - whether it be affirmation or social justice work - I don't expect to be seen because I do have a history of being ignored and overlooked - due my deep seated timidness and self-loathing I developed when I was younger. I commit to the work that I do because it's necessary for my continuum as well as the continuum of many people who struggle in the similar ways that I do. So to Be Seen is just really humbling. I'm still unlearning that I don't deserve to Be Seen and learning that when I am that it's because I deserve to be.
Another thing I'm getting used to is being seen physically. I internalized a lot of my gender dysphoria and through that I didn't see my body image as one to be loved, acknowledged, appreciated and so on. I'm still trying to unpack that from my person, my thoughts and my feelings. End of last year, I started a body image photography project in which I document my body transformation over time. I post body image and chest challenge photos cuz that's how I capture my moments of growth for my eyes. I want to be able to look back and see where I came from and feel good about the process. I post my photos publicly because maybe another guy like me will find them motivating and somehow believe he could be somewhere similar where I am one day, loving himself in a way he never did before.
One thing about this process of posting and getting this attention is sometimes I don't know what is Being Seen by some people who do give me this attention. A lot of different people have been telling me I look good - which is an appreciated confidence boost - yet some of the energy behind some of the compliments I feel aren't based in affirmation but rather adulation - blind and excessive admiration or praise. That makes me uncomfortable because that's not why I post, that's not from where I'm approaching this space. If I am to be seen as beautiful, I just hope that it's from the energy I am radiating from within me - not solely because my body is seen as beautiful. I think it's also just strange because I fight everyday against the idea that I'm unattractive. So when I'm told that I am attractive, I'm constantly pushing back the belief that I have to negate that notion. I be like, "Yooooo chiiiiilll." hahaha. Yet I'm starting to accept my own beauty without letting it go to my head - because that's NOT cute. hahahaha. Egotistical Vanity isn't Beautiful. But anyway, I'm still growing in many different ways in and outside of the body. It's all a process in itself."
As a Black-transgender-student, I am sure that life threw you some curve balls, what keeps you smiling and motivated?
"Hope keeps me smiling and motivated. Love keeps me smiling and motivated. Truth keeps me smiling and motivated. My Mother keeps me smiling and motivated. My Father's Spirit keeps me smiling and motivated. The rest of My Family keeps me smiling and motivated. My Best Friend(s) keeps me smiling and motivated. My Support Networks in general keeps me smiling and motivated. Seeing People Authentically and Unapologetically Walk Their Truth keeps me smiling and motivated. My Spirit Torn Down and Build Back Up keeps me smiling and motivated - to know I could come back from rock bottom and build a better today and tomorrow from a fucked up yesterday for myself. My corny ass jokes that I tell myself sometimes keep my smiling and motivated. hahaha Basically this list could go on and on for a lot of things make me smile and keep me motivated. I'm a smiley guy anyway. I'm usually always smiling - even through my roughest times. I have to smile (for myself) or I won't make it through. My Smile Keeps Me Motivated. For as long as I can Smile, I know there's something and a Purpose to be Motivated and Alive<3"
What's your thing?
"Poetry - super big part of my life"
What is the message you want to convey?
"We are Enough to get all we've ever wanted for ourselves. Standing in our truth, being authentically self, being unapologetically myself with love and completeness is all we have to do in everything we do and everything will fall into place."
"I have many philosophies but I guess the three that reign true for me right now are: Everything happens for a Purpose,I am not my mistakes, and I am greater than my greatest fear"
"My favorite metaphor is comparing myself (or growth processes) to a tree - to which love is water and light is the sun which are crucial in making a tree grow and flourish."
How did come across your medium?
"Poetry as my medium of expression came to me at the end of a pencil on a page during a moment where I really rather be holding a knife to my skin. Poetry is healing and protecting me from my own self-loathing."
When/where did it all begin
" Poetry began in middle school as a way of dealing with depression. I didn't believe I was important thus I had low self-worth and isolated myself from my friends often. As a way to communicate my feels without burdening other people I would write. I never shared them until my sophomore year at a BSU collaboration event with True Colors of Maryland - a support group for LGBT People of Color. I wrote a piece talking about feeling isolated within the Black community - to which race is an important identity in my life. I felt like i had to separate them when they are two salient parts of me. Since then I started telling my story as queer person of color through poetry and spoken word"
Talk about your style both in how you dress and how you create.
"Dress - everything has to flow, everything has to match my own image of myself, if I'm wearing the outfit and it doesn't look good to me then it doesn't look good at all. I'm super particular about what I put on (but not in the way where I have to buy super expensive clothes but rather all that I put on has to make sense to me - even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else). Create - Basically the same thing. I create for myself and to convey a message for myself that I'm aware others will read. If my poems don't make sense to anyone else then that's cool. I just really have to get somethings out and I don't want to limit myself to others perceptions."
What's your perspective of society today? or rather something that "grinds your gears' about it
"I feel like some people are making moves and some people aren't. The apathy in most America is what gets me. I know pockets of people who are just up an at 'em and some who aren't (and I don't mean physically up an at 'em or like picketing or the like - I mean like just taking the time to create justice in whichever way they can). what grind my gears is hearing the "well it doesn't affect me so..." I'm like we're all connected so I'm sure if it "doesn't affect you" now it certainly could one day. Like men who don't stand up for women's rights or the rich who don't advocate for the poor, etc. Also people who don't know how to check their privilege and use it in a way that isn't perpetuating oppression on other people. Like people who go to school who dog those who don't. Everyone can't afford school or taking responsibility for their family or something that someone who could go to school may or may not have had to deal with. Just stop. It's disrespectful and rude and just really unthoughtful."
Who/what inspires you? Do you have a muse?
"I don't have just one muse but many muses. I'm inspired by myself but also the many minds and energies and spirits that coexist with me. My and their stories are what give life to a lot of my poetry. Most of my poetry is a commentary of social injustice and talks about identity. So hearing people operating within their identities, within themselves emphasize how I think of my own identity and how I operate within myself. So I write about myself a lot but also bigger systematic and systemic topics as well. I guess I would say I'm inspired by what the universe surrounds me in the moment of me writing that poem."
Favorite Disney movie
Lion King! I love the music and the story of coming of age. Simba seeing the Power within himself and the connection of spirituality in his transformation :)