“I was born in Havana Cuba, my parents named me Maritza. I knew that there had been a terrible mistake made since the tender age of 3. I longed to be a boy, although my mother went out of her way to make me a girl. The dolls quickly turned into cars, in my mind anyway.” — Mark Angelo Cummings
When you chat with Mark Angelo Cummings, a spiritual alchemy’s pretty much guaranteed—he’ll see to that. He cares about Evolution.
Ever on the road, ever interactive and ever in “create, don’t consume” mode, this LGBQTrans* Creator-Activist is a self-described Trans* Man on a Mission. Alongside his devoted wife Jessica, Cummings is insistent, consistent and persistent in his quest for Truth.
Jaye: Mark, you’ve been creating so many great things over the years: you’ve been a writer, podcaster, musician/singer, and much more—how does being a multimedia creator empower you?
Mark: I believe in order to create change we must be that change that we want to see. Being a spirit being and having the ability to create and use my frequency to make those changes is important to me, acting as a conduit of light for those that need assistance to see things clearer, drives me to do what I do. Although I cannot speak for anyone but myself, I believe that by leading my life by example may help others in some way. Using different avenues through my inner strength, be it through my music, writing or podcast, creates a ripple effect in our Universe.
I am no one special, we are all made up of the same stardust, I just choose to lead my life in a way that will help me grow spiritually and emotionally and as I believe we are all one, by doing my part, I help others do the same.
Jaye: I can appreciate that. Still, your message reaches many in that you’re a conduit. And we’ve seen you profiled in the media often—Lynn Conway refers to you among many successful trans men and role models today. What’s your definition of success, most especially when it comes to the trans* guys you mentor?
Mark: Lynn Conway is an amazing individual and I feel honored to be part of the many great inspirational Trans men that she has showcased on her site. Success is a very personal word and means many different things to many people. I personally believe that being successful means being happy with who you are and what you have accomplished. I can never compare myself to anyone, I have never envied another soul and will not model my life to replicate someone else’s. I have always had an inner voice that drives me that keeps me in line and focused.
I am successful, because I am happy with who I am, what I have accomplished and most of all, I am successful because I control my life and my Universe. I don’t feel the need to compete, impress or strive to reach the same goals as others. I let my inner voice drive me, and that voice is attached to my heart and not my head. I have gotten myself in trouble for speaking my heart, being passionate and head strong on things I believe in, but I will never apologize for my passion and heart. This is my life, my path and my journey. I am a spirit first, having a human experience. It so happens that this time around I was blessed to walk life in both genders. I believe labels such as male, female, trans man or trans woman are limiting and if we allow these labels to eat away at our soul, we lose.
Jaye: It’s nice how you articulate that balance—the difference between lived experience and “labels” about it are huge.
On occasion, you’ve been a featured guest on talk shows, and in the public eye (TV etc.). How are you able to control the medium to make sure your message gets through (meaning, your message and true-to-life experience is conveyed rather than an exploitative “reality TV” kind of vibe)?
Mark: The first show I was ever on was the Maury Povich show, he wanted to make it a circus as most talk shows attempt to do. I was confident in myself that I would conduct myself in a professional manner and that I would deliver the message that I was there to put forth. That message was about unconditional love and acceptance. Now since that show, I have evolved and changed much on the way I think. I have a gentler outlook on what being transgender is all about. I remember quoting, “I am more of a man than most men I know.”
Today I would say: I am me, a spirit, a soul that is here on this planet to learn and grow. I feel my experience is a blessing, for as energy requires both polarity to work, we require both frequencies to grow. I believe we are here for a reason, therefore, I cannot force what I feel or see in me on others. I cannot scorn someone for not seeing my reality. I can only live my reality and hope to be respected as I walk through life and help others see that we are but a speck of dust in this vast Universe. Everyone sees things differently and we cannot expect the world to embrace our changes. I believe as long as we walk our path and are happy with self that is all that matters.
Jaye: Thank you, Mark. You’ve also written, “I believe being transgender is a gift a Spiritual awakening that is manifesting in physical form.” Could you riff on that point a little more for our readers?
Mark: Evolution has led to many changes in many species throughout the years. It is my opinion that we were once both male and female in one, and we are returning to our roots. Spirits shape shift, the time is now for the walls of gender to be dropped, for the constant battle that has gone on for ions to end, and for us humans to see that there is no separation, only oneness. Spirit learning through our experience. We as transgender individuals have a major responsibility to enlighten the world. Instead we are blending in and doing much of the same, this solves nothing and that is why we continue the hamster wheel.
Jaye: You keep moving forward—you and Jessica have both recently made another exciting change, you’re full-time RV travelers now! It’s awesome how the face of work, life, travel continues to change. What inspired you two to make that move? Also, what is Transgender Highway?
Mark: The only constant in life is change. That is all I have ever known from a very young age. I am a gypsy at heart and love adventures and spiritual journeys. In fact this is not my first endeavor where I have left everything behind to find my spiritual path. My ex-wife and I did a similar journey but without the RV. We roughed it, with only a tent and truck. One evening while reminiscing on one of my old journey videos, Jessica jokingly said, I would do that but only in an RV, so 3 weeks later I purchased the RV and here we are. Transgender Highway is the documentation of our Journey in our RV while meeting people from all over the sSates, which is our plan, to make connections, share our music and inner light with others on the road.
Jaye: Speaking of Jessica, congratulations on your marriage! When did you tie the knot? : )
Mark: Jessica and I have been together since 2012, we are like an old married couple, bicker often, and disagree on many things, partly due to our age and personality differences. But what is that saying, opposites attract? I am anal, uptight, OCD, time oriented, she is laid back, no concept of time and very blonde.
But in spite of our differences, Aries and Cancer, I have never loved anyone as much as I love her. Jessica, just had her legal name change and took on my last name. We are planning to have a ceremony, spiritual in nature to make it official. Three months or so after we met, we had a tattoo ceremony where she had my name tattooed on her back and I had her name tattooed on my arm. In my opinion Marriage between two people should not include the state or the need for a license as if it where some sort of business deal. Marriage is a union between two souls who love each other and who want to spend the rest of their lives together. The amounts of divorce and income created by this practice, waters down the true meaning of marriage. In my eyes Jessica and I have been married from the moment we moved in together.
Jaye: It’s so lovely how you and Jessica conjointly work on projects, then share your insights and teachings with others. How did you meet, and can you tell the readers a bit more about Transition Radio and your other collaborations with Jessica?
Mark: Jessica is very creative, as am I. She enjoys starting projects but has a hard time continuing them unless she sees a major outcome. She has ADHD, and tends to want to start many things but honestly finishing them is not her strength and usually I tend to be the one that follows through. Together we are great when we stay out of each other’s way, and learn to play together in the sand box. But I must say we make beautiful music together and is one of the many things I enjoy doing with her. We have written 12 songs together effortlessly. When we remember that we are on the same team, we can conquer the world.
Transition Radio was Jessica’s idea, the name and website. The show’s concept has been my baby, I coordinate it, look for the guest, create the script and format. Jessica has lost interest in the show, since she feels we do not get much support from the community. I on the other hand love doing the shows, and yes although it is a lot of work with very little to show for what we do, I can’t seem to let it go. It is my passion and love, besides making music. Jessica and I met at her place of work called the Castle and transgender show girl bar. We fell in love instantly, it was like a fairy tale and I believe, we have been put together to help each other grow.
Jaye: I know you’re both also very focused on health and fitness—what’s your workout regimen? Do you have a certain routine, do you switch it up?
Mark: I am the health nut in this family, although I am not as dedicated as before and have found myself slacking off more and more, my other half Jessica’s idea of health is adding veggies to our evening meal and replacing fish with chicken. I must give her some credit though, when she feels she is adding a few pounds, she cuts down on her portions and it a bit more mindful of what enters her mouth. She loves to drink coca cola, enjoys her chips, candy bars, and definitely has a sweet tooth. I have developed some bad eating habits to keep the peace, but still manage to keep a balance which I believe is the road to true health.
My workout routine has changed throughout the years. I do more of functional training and less regimented routine. Living in an RV and out in nature is a wonderful thing, it definitely keeps you moving. Walking to the laundry facility, trash bin, and all the work it takes to maintain the rig and the outdoor life style, keeps one physically engaged. I enjoy doing pushups, pull ups, using bands and my own body in a functional manner to engage my muscles and keep myself strong and fit. Jessica on the other hand hates working out and I have learned to not push that issue any more, again keeping the peace is the best workout of all.
Jaye: Any recipe recommendations?
Mark: When I had my private gym, I would create a newsletter and had many wonderful recipes. Basically anything that is unhealthy can be made healthy. For instance, one can substitute pasta with zucchini, by using a grater that will create fettuccini looking strips but instead of real pasta the zucchini strips resembles the pasta. Making one’s own sauce with a blender using tomato, garlic, herbs and spices is not only healthier but a tastier alternative than the bottled stuff they sell in the stores. In addition making one’s own salad dressing using a blender will save you on tons of calories and improve your health.
Mark: The choices are endless. One of my favorite homemade dressings is an avocado based dressing. Take one small avocado, garlic clove, onions or scallions, 1 cucumber, sundried tomato handful, add ½ cup of water or so, then blend for 3o seconds or so, this is the most delicious creamy dressing you have ever tasted with all natural ingredients and great taste.
Jaye: How has your experience as an OT informed your health coaching—and with all of the projects you have going on, do you still have time to do personal training for others?
Mark: When I graduated as an Occupational Therapist, health care was so different. Things have changed, and I no longer wish to work for a sick system. I am however grateful for all that I have learned, 6 years of college and my healing nature has prepared me to help empower others with their health. Besides being an OT, I am also a master personal trainer and certified nutritional consultant all of which helps me help others not only with their physical but also their emotional health. I believe that we are made up of body, mind and spirit, we need to target all to create a healthy being.
Jaye: I saw that you’ve written a book about eating healthily on the road as well.
Mark: Right: The Healthy Traveler’s Guide: No More Excuses.
This idea came about when I had my personal training studio/private gym. Many of my clients where travelers and had a hard time keeping up with their diet and exercise when traveling. The key is to be prepared, you don’t want to be hungry and the only option fast food. In this book I help people reprogram their inner child, the instant gratification voice, to a more reasonable adult. In this book I teach you how to work out in your hotel room using bands, and the furniture inside your room. I teach you how to prepare your food, or what choices to make when you don’t have much choice. It is easy, and not as hard as one thinks. The key is reprogramming yourself.
Jaye: In your experience, how can healthy habits help folks who are going through dysphoria—what are the mental/spiritual complementary habits that can help support healthy exercise or diet choices?
Mark: As I mentioned earlier we need all three components, body, mind and spirit to create a healthy individual. Food controls your moods, your feelings and your mental health. By losing weight, working out and developing a healthy relationship with self, there is no condition, including dysphoria that can beat you. I turned to female bodybuilding and that helped me greatly. Losing fat helped shrink my breast, making it easier to bind.
By gaining muscles, I felt more muscular and in control. Meditating, stretching, exercising can help the body maintain a healthy balance of chemicals that will keep you healthy, physically, emotionally and mentally. Learning to eat the right foods, staying away from processed junk can clean out your liver and allow your body to heal itself more efficiently. Cookie cutter diets don’t work, in fact, diets period are a waste of time. It’s called balance, eating whole foods, drinking lots of water and on the occasion you can treat yourself with those foods that are not so good for you, but overall try to limit the junk to a minimum.
Jaye: Empowerment…you’re very outspoken about the power of words—meaning, only giving them the power that you allow.
Mark: Thoughts have more power than words, how you think controls your world. If someone calls you a name, but you don’t allow that word to hurt you, then it has no meaning. But if your thoughts are telling you that this word hurts you and you give this word and the person using the word power, then they win and you lose. It is your thoughts that are harming you, not the word. Why be miserable when you can be happy? And what is the only thing stopping you from happiness but you? People don’t realize that power that they truly have, they are too use to giving their power away.
Jaye: Being that you’re a Latino man, how has the Hispanic community reacted to your transition? Do you find there is a receptivity to two-spirited/trans* persons of experience in Hispanic communities? Is there a difference in the US as opposed to Cuba? What’s your experience been like?
Mark: The Hispanic community embraced me, in fact I was on so many Spanish Talk shows and documentaries for the first year of my advocacy that I became the poster child for them. I had a host fly in from Puerto Rico to do a whole segment on me and the amount of emails I got from doing that show, which is a super prominent show in Puerto Rico was overwhelming, I have even been offered to go to Brazil and be a spokesperson, but I turned it down. I hate flying and Brazil is way too far.
I don’t think the Hispanic community embraces the two spirit nature, although my heritage which is Taino Indian from Cuba which stems from the Native American who migrated to Cuba are very open to the two spirit nature, the Spaniards are not open minded and very much bigoted due to their religious beliefs. There is a massive difference between the US and Cuba in many ways. From family values, to food choices, as well as lifestyle, especially this day and age, where the leader is very much against capitalism. I left Cuba at a tender age of 5.
I am an American Citizen, yet many of my values are my own and not based on Country. I believe the US is not the same country that it was intended by our founding fathers. We are a train wreck waiting to happen. The value of material things surpass the value of human life and the people in this country have been taught to value things outside of them. The need for competition, having more than you need has taken over the true nature of humanity.
Jaye: What’s your opinion on reasons why trans*/transsexual men and women tend to fight so much, publicly (in print, social media, etc.) regarding gender, power, privilege and so on? Do you feel there is a way for trans* folks and allies to build bridges regarding these conflicts—what might be some constructive steps in order to find dialogue, progress, and solutions rather than the conflicts?
Mark: I believe that because there has been so much suffering due to not being accepted or being allowed to express true self creates trauma, as well as the years of anger and pain which leads them to lash out at the world and even at their own community, leads to lashing out at others. The deserving attitude and the narcissistic behavior is almost like a post traumatic syndrome that has taken place.
Healing of self in order to be able to forgive others is imperative. Once you realize that no one owes you anything, and that this is your journey and no one else’s, then and only then can you be compassionate for others beside yourself. I notice that most transgender people are self-consumed and can’t see beyond self. If we look outside of self and try to understand others, we might be able to move on and repair. By letting go of the anger, and forgiving, we can create a positive dialogue and healthy interventions. Everyone is here to grow and learn, but not everyone is on the same path and some will take longer than others.
Jaye: More thoughts about words…is the word trans* the same as transsexual in your experience? Why, or why not?
Mark: Labels are so misleading and damaging, just the same as boxes. Trans in my belief is short for transgender. Transsexual is a word that most use to express changing their sex and have an issue with the word transgender. Political in nature, confusing for many and in reality just words. We are spirits having a human experience, but many take their experience way too seriously.
Jaye: That leads us to “Shame on You,” for sure—an awakening outreach project. How did “Shame on You” come to be?
Mark: This was Jessica’s baby. She wanted to bring light to those individuals inside and outside of the community who are actually creating more harm than good and needed to be exposed. The blog has become very successful with readership all over the world. We have amazing writers and have created lots of controversy. Jessica wanted to prove that negativity creates attention. We have received more hits on this blog that is only 2 months old, versus our transition radio website that focuses so much on the positive. It proves that Trans people really dig drama and she was right.
Jaye: What kinds of changes have you seen and experienced in the LGBTQ community—where do you see things heading? I mean, you’ve been an online content creator for quite some time as well as an out trans* person and advocate for quite a while—
Mark: Things have taken a turn for the worse in my opinion. There is so much drama stemming from our own community, there is this constant envy, battle and policing of everyone. It was not like that back when I first started advocating. I believe this new wave is going to hurt us as a community.
Jaye: You’re both on the front lines, so much. What keeps the both of you so uplifted, optimistic and prolific?
Mark: Love is what holds us together as glue holds and repairs what is broken. We have been through so much as a couple. Transition Radio and advocating for the community has created lots of problems for Jess and I. But deep down for every obstacle we face we become stronger. My love for Jessica is beyond words as her Love for me.
We were put together for a reason and we know this. We broke up once and were apart for 6 weeks that taught us many things, but mostly that we don’t want to be without each other ever. No matter how difficult it gets, the moments of Hormonal madness, which she tends to get, thank God not as much as before, I can’t see my life without her. She is my heart as I am hers. We are soul mates, and I knew that the moment I laid eyes on her. The lesson is that nothing in life that is worth anything comes easy. Relationships take work, and when you love someone, they are worth fighting for.