Brad Shreve 00:00
Well, Robin Gigl it’s good to see you again. Welcome.
Thank you, Brad. It’s good to be back.
Brad Shreve 00:09
You were on my old show Queer Writers of Crime. I think it was about a little over a year ago. on that show, I interviewed LGBTQ crime fiction authors, which I must say you are an excellent one. Thank you. And if I recall, almost a year ago was you reached out to me and you asked if this year you could be my guest on the week of November 20, in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance. And when I decided to end that show and start this one, I was concerned for a second. And then I remembered I, Mike Robbins done all kinds of shit. There’s a lot more to talk about than just books, which we are going to talk about your books, I certainly will definitely talk about those. But you have been so involved in activism and everything else. So I’m happy to say things worked out really well here.
Well, thank you, and I will be honored to be your guest, you know, when this comes on in the week of November 20, because that is a really important day for the transgender community. And for those people who don’t know I am a transgender woman. So it’s an important day and one where we pause and honor people that we’ve lost.
Brad Shreve 01:19
And I’m glad you mentioned it because I want to get a little deeper into that in just a moment. Until then. I’m your host, Brad Shreve, and I’m Robyn, Geigle and queer we are.
Brad Shreve 01:44
Welcome to queer we are for stories by LGBTQ celebrities, athletes, activists, politicians, entrepreneurs, and more here entertaining conversations and accounts of queer people’s successes, challenges, and what they learned along the way. So listener, I try to initially keep my introductions brief. But that’s really hard to do with Robin Geico. So, so hold on to your seats, because this is gonna be a wild ride. Robin is an attorney, and author and an activist who was appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court to the Courts Committee on diversity, inclusion, community engagement. That’s a mouthful. She has been honored by the ACLU at New Jersey and the New Jersey pride network for her work on behalf of the LGBTQ community. In 2019, she was appointed by the governor and legislature to the New Jersey, transgender equality Task Force, believe it or not, that is an abbreviated list. And on top of all of that, she still has time to practice law as an attorney. And that is under the firm ghlac Walrath. Robin will correct me if I got that wrong. LLP in Freehold, New Jersey. Did I get that right?
You got it? Right, Brad?
Brad Shreve 03:05
Okay, we only had to practice twice. To start off Robin, I frequently asked people in the beginning if they consider themselves successful, and I am so going to skip that with you. Because I’m gonna go straight to what makes you so successful?
Well, maybe you shouldn’t have skipped the first question because I think so many of us view success through the lens of how other people see us, you know, whether we make enough money, whether we’ve been successful in our career, whether, you know, we, we’ve written books, whether we’ve we’re going to one cases, and
Brad Shreve 03:43
I’m actually gonna actually, I’m gonna tell you, if you look up the dictionary version of success, it is to have reached a stated objective, there you got, it is subjective. So what is your definition of success? And have you achieved it?
So I think for me, the definition of success, and this is going to be so subjective, as you said, is, is being a good person, and living a good life, and maybe making the world and by that I mean, a very limited world, the space that I inhabit a little bit better, then, you know, when I came into it, and I understand that, in order to be able to do that, you have to have the means and the ability, you know, whether it be the money to live a comfortable life or the education to be a lawyer, but you have to take those tools that you’re given or that you’ve earned and do something good with them. And for me, that’s more important than having published books, having one trials, you know, having an a nice place to live is, you know, that hopefully I’ve even if it’s just my little tiny corner of the world, I’ve made it a little bit better place. And I’d like to think that in my own small way, I have been able to do that. I mean, I look at my three children, who I’m immensely proud of, and that the values that that they hold on proud of those values, I look at my granddaughters who are growing up and know that they’re being influenced by my kids who have, you know, values of honesty, compassion, equality. And so, you know, in that sense, Brad, I do feel like I’ve been successful.
Brad Shreve 05:39
While I certainly would agree, many people’s reasoning for not doing more for whatever they consider more to be, is they’re too busy. And I think that’s a legitimate concern. We live in a busy world. Yet Robin Geico, does it? What advice do you have, for those that don’t feel they have the time?
There? Listen, I, I do a lot of things. I also turned down a lot of things you have to know, as important as it is to say yes to things, it’s important to know when to say no, because you can overwhelm yourself and wind up doing nothing well. So my advice to people is, know what your goals are, know what is going to get you there in the best way possible. And, and focus on that. And to the extent that you have the time and the ability to do other things, that’s great. Don’t, don’t shy away from it. But give yourself the time and the space, to be able to recharge your batteries, to be able to enjoy other things besides activism, or being an attorney or being an author, you know, be well rounded, and have the ability to know, you know, what, what’s gonna make you happy? What, what can you do? Where can you can? Can you contribute? And where are you best off saying? No, let me leave that to somebody else.
Brad Shreve 07:13
Good point, if you’re burnt out, you can’t help anyone.
Yeah, exactly. And we all I shouldn’t say we all but I think a lot of people have the tendency to want to do it all because they feel like, well, if I don’t do it, who’s going to and there’s a lot of truth to that. But you can’t do it all. I mean, because as you said, you will burn out, there’s no question about it.
Brad Shreve 07:39
So with everything that you do, what does Robin guy go do when she needs to recharge.
Usually it believe it or not, it go for a run or go for a walk, just kind of examine the things that are going on in my life. And I can do that best when I’m outside kind of getting a little bit of exercise. And, and that really does help me refocus and and I just enjoy that I enjoy that. You know, I’m I’m no longer a runner, I even hesitate to call myself a jogger, I move a little bit faster than walking. But But I enjoy that and it just being outside and you know, being able to kind of sort things out without looking at a computer without, you know, people calling you this and and you know, the phone ringing and the emails chiming and everything else just gives me the space that I need to kind of unwind a little bit.
Brad Shreve 08:44
And I do believe it when you sit, you said it, believe it or not I walk or I run. I find walking. So it’s so nice to be in the fresh air away from the world. And it’s easy. Yes, it is. For most of us. For most of us. It’s easy. Yep. So yeah. Great tip there. Have you always been so driven?
The answer is no. In the sense that, look, I said at the outset that I’m a transgender woman, I spent the first 50 plus years of my life in the closet. So I spent a great deal of my life hiding who I was. And I think as a result, the things that I did was focused on, on, you know, some good things, but also on keeping my secret a secret. And so you spend a lot of energy doing that. And so, I don’t think I was as driven then because what my drive was to keep people from knowing who I really was. I do think I’ve I accomplished a lot of things that were important to me. As I said, I have three wonderful children. And, you know, my wife and I, I think we did a good job raising them and so I accomplished that and that was a an ambition that I had in terms of, you know, making sure that I provided for my family and raised my my children in a way that they’d be, you know, happy, productive adults. But again, I spend so much of my time trying to keep me under wraps. And so when I came out in, you know, 14 years ago, I found that, you know, I had had a lot of privileges because I was perceived by everybody as a heterosexual, white male. So I got all the benefits that people who are perceived to be heterosexual white males get, you know, and I am very well aware of the privileges that I had the benefit of. And so, I guess, in a, in a kind of strange way, when I did come out, and when I did transition, I didn’t lose the benefits of what I had obtained. So I’m one of the lucky ones, I still have my family, they still love me, I still had my career, I didn’t lose a lot of things that trans people, a lot of trans people lose, when they come out or when they’re out it. And so I didn’t start out with the ambition of when I came out of being so out and open about who I was or who I am. But it was kind of thrust upon me, because I am one of the few out and open trans attorneys in the state of New Jersey. And when it was thrust upon me, I think that’s what kind of spurred me to say, Okay, I do have to take this on, I do have to, you know, be a little bit more ambitious in terms of what I’m going to do. And, and, and again, it’s, it’s trying to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice. And I’m not saying that I’m special in that way, or anything else. But there’s so many trans people who don’t have the opportunities that I have. And so I felt it was incumbent upon me in terms of helping the community writ large, to be out there and to be who I am and to be ambitious, and in speaking and trying to do the things that I’ve done.
Brad Shreve 12:30
I want to talk more about your coming out experience. But first, let’s get to the initial issue that we were going to discuss, which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when this show comes out, that’s gonna be about five days from now, what does that Day mean to you?
It is a very sad day, because it is a day where we as a community, honor the trans people, non binary people who have lost their lives over the preceding 12 months. And so it’s it’s sad, because so many trans people face violence, or or bullying and intimidation and things of that nature that caused them to take their own lives. And so it’s a day where we pause, where we try to remember them, because so many of them are nameless, it’s not just United States, it’s international Transgender Day of Remembrance. And in so many countries, when you look at the list of transgender people who have lost their lives, it’ll have no name, they won’t even be identified. So it’s the opportunity for us to pause to remember them, honor them, so that their lives have meaning. And so it’s a tough day. It truly is.
Brad Shreve 13:53
And anyone that doesn’t know that violence and murder, and suicide is so high among trans individuals, has been under a rock that hasn’t gotten better.
So, again, it’s hard for me to say, because I have had so many privileges. I think if you were speaking to trans women of color, if you were speaking to a trans woman who lived in, you know, Texas or Florida, I live in New Jersey. I think if you were talking to a trans woman who lived in Brazil, or Russia, or other countries, I don’t know that any of those people would say it’s getting better, you know, in certain areas of the of the United States. Certainly things you know, have gotten better over the years for trans folks. But again, unless you been living under a rock, even in this country, there has been so much pushback And so many attacks on the trans community and trans kids in terms of trying to not deny them health care, trying to deny them, you know, access to participate in athletics. And, and in, you know, various states where they’re not teachers aren’t even allowed to call them by their correct name or use their correct pronouns. I mean, so it’s so hard to say that it’s getting better, because there seems to be so much pushback. You know, when I came out, in 2008, most people didn’t, you know, I talked to people and they go, what transgender? What’s that mean? What’s that mean? That you’re, and I had to explain on a on a real basic level, what it meant. I know, this sounds bizarre, but it was almost better because people weren’t attacking me in that way. Now, most people have a sense of, or, or some sense of what it means to be transgender, even if it’s, you know, not the right, you know, definitions because they’ve got it from a an organization that’s anti trans. But so many more people are aware of trans issues. And there seems to be this pushback, we’re really going through a tough time. It’s hard to be trans right now.
Brad Shreve 16:21
I guess a positive in that is the fact that there is pushback means maybe we are doing the right things.
I agree. I mean, it’s like anything else, when you you know, when somebody who’s considered the other, when they’re recognized, and they try to take a step forward, there’s always going to be people that want to push back, whether that’s based on their race, or their ethnicity, or their religion, their gender, or their sexual orientation and gender identity. You know, there’s always people who want to push back. So you’re right, it is a positive sign it again, bizarre way that people are pushing back because it means we are being recognized, and people are trying to accept us for who we are. And other people want to say, No, you can’t do that. So, you know, look, I do think overall, you know, in some grand scheme of things, the fact that more young people feel comfortable coming out that, you know, there’s greater inclusivity in colleges in the workplace, for for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. I think those are all good things. But by no means are we there yet.
Brad Shreve 17:35
What do you say to those that are saying being transgender is now in? It’s trendy? Everybody wants to do it all of a sudden? What do you have to say that? And do you kind of understand where maybe coming from?
No, I don’t, and it’s not trendy. And it’s not in. I mean, we have a day called the Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we’re remembering trans people who were murdered, or bullied and committed suicide simply because they’re trans. So I mean, you know, that should be a clue that it’s not trendy, to be trans. And to people who say, Oh, well, you know, it’s trending now, you know, you know, because look how many more trans people there are? No, there’s not more trans people. I was born in 1952, there was no concept of gender identity. At that point in time, I grew up thinking I was the only person in the world who felt like I did. And so I came of age at a time, where, you know, I felt nothing but guilt and shame over who I was. And it was something that I’ve lived with my entire adult life. I think what we’re seeing is, as it people have gained a broader knowledge of what it means to be transgender, and parents are more accepting. And as I said, you know, in certain schools and employment, it’s more accepted. They’re being accepted more. I think what we’re seeing is a generation or generations that are more comfortable coming out, because more people understand the concepts. And so I don’t think it’s a trend thing. I don’t think it’s a cool thing. I think it’s just people being comfortable knowing that there are other people like them, that there’s nothing wrong with feeling the way they do that there are people who are willing to accept them for who they are. And so they are having the courage to do something that it took me 50 years to do, and that’s come out and say, No, this is who I am. So I don’t think there’s more of us. I think there’s just a greater willingness to acknowledge, this is who I am.
Brad Shreve 20:07
Well said, and you mentioned geography earlier, I have a good number, I shouldn’t say a good number. I have friends who their children came out as trans. And they were embraced very lovingly, and their parents were an integral part of their coming out process. But I lived in LA, and I was talking to miss Coco, Peru the other day, who also lives in Los Angeles, I just recently moved away from Los Angeles. And we discussed the fact that when you’re in LA, you’re in a bubble, and you forget the rest of the world, cuz even in LA, there’s pockets where you can’t do certain things. And you forget, in the rest of the world, or the rest of the country, you can’t just walk hand in hand with the person you love.
That’s absolutely true. Brad, as I said, earlier, I’m in New Jersey, I’m in another bubble, you know, the the northeast of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, you know, states, where are the laws, the state laws protect people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. So you in New Jersey, you can’t be discriminated against in employment in places of public accommodation, or housing, based on your gender identity or your sexual orientation. But that’s, as you said, that’s not the case across the country. And so we do kind of tend to lose sight of what it’s like, if you’re not living in one of those states where you’re protected, where I mean, there was just an incident, I don’t know, maybe two or three weeks ago, in Florida, where a woman was thrown out of the restaurant, simply because she was transgender, and they didn’t want to serve her. And there’s no law in Florida, in terms of public accommodations, that allows them requires them to server. So you know, and that’s, that’s the case in a majority of the states. So you know, if you live in one of those states, you don’t have the same perspective that you and I do living in those bubbles, you have a very different perspective where you’re not accepted, where you are subject to being discriminated against, where you can be removed from a restaurant or denied housing, or, you know, well, a little bit harder, harder to get fired and employment because of Bostock, the Supreme Court decision that came down a couple of years ago, that did say, you know, discrimination in employment is a violation of Title Seven. So employment, you know, but there’s the law, and then there’s reality, the law might protect you, but it’s the boss fired you, and you are living in a state that offers very few protections, you still have a really tough road to go. So yeah, you’re absolutely right. Location, geography makes a big difference.
Brad Shreve 22:57
And even if you live in a state where you’re protected, having done a lot of work in HR, and not done this myself, it’s always easy to find a reason to fire someone or not hire them. There’s always a justification somewhere that you can use.
Yeah, no, I know, of a person who came to me for legal advice a number of years ago, who had come out as trans and was very successful was doing very well, but was reliant on the business that she was working for, to continue to provide her with business, you know, to interact with clients and things of that nature. And they just stopped giving her clients to interact with because she had come out as a trans woman. And as a result, obviously, her performance and her numbers fell. And then the grounds was, well, it has nothing to do with you being trans. But look at your numbers, you’re not performing like you are. So we have to let you go. So you’re absolutely right, that there’s a way for a company to come up with a pretext to let you go if they truly want to. And, again, even where there’s laws that are designed to protect you. lawsuits are time consuming, expensive. And you know, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to win. And if you’re unemployed for two or three years while your lawsuit proceeds, you know, how’s that beneficial to you?
Brad Shreve 24:24
Well, I’m sitting here listening to your explanation of what they went through to get rid of her and I’m thinking it takes a lot of work to be that bigoted. Take that energy and use it for good. Just I, you know, sometimes I just don’t understand and it frustrates me that I want to at least try to understand so I can maybe make a difference that way, but it’s really difficult.
Look, I can tell you from my own personal experience, that there were attorneys who would refer me business before I transitioned, who after I transitioned didn’t refer business Is anymore. And their their rationale for it was? Well, we don’t know how the clients would react when they found out that you’re a trans woman. So we’re not going to, you know, we don’t want to upset the client. So you know, we’re just going to send them someplace else. And that’s the rationale. It’s no, they think they’re you, or they want to explain it by saying, Oh, well, we’re just trying to protect our client, because we don’t know how they’re going to feel about it. Well, did you ask them? You know, like, you know, it’s a really simple question. And the response of any client should be, is she a good lawyer? Is she the right lawyer, for my case? Not what my, my gender identity or my sexual orientation is. But is she a good lawyer? Because if she’s a good lawyer, I don’t care.
Brad Shreve 25:53
Like I said, That’s a simple is simple. We know there’s always going to be violence, and there’s always gonna be murder, no matter how utopian we try to make our society. But our goal is that someday, we won’t have to have a Transgender Day of Remembrance. What are some simple steps that you think we as a society can take tomorrow to get us in that direction?
I think the people who are not transgender, so the cisgender people, be they gay, straight, bi, whatever. I think they have to step up. We are the trans community, the non binary community, we are a very small community. You know, I know you had asked a question earlier about it looking like it’s bigger. It’s not, it’s not that big. I mean, maybe we’re 1% plus or minus of the population in the United States of America, we need the people who are not trans to step up and say, No, we’re not going to allow you to fire this person, because they’re trans to throw them out of the restaurant, to discriminate against them to not give them housing. We need our allies to be supportive. And we’ve talked a little bit about the the environment in the country in terms of transgender issues, and the pushback that the trans community is getting. And sometimes it’s discouraging, because as a trans person, because it doesn’t seem that we’re getting the our straight, our queer allies cisgender allies pushing back for us? Again, we’re small, you know, if we push back, not a whole lot of people pay attention. But I remember, I guess it goes back, I don’t know, maybe it’s it’s four or five years now, when when North Carolina passed, HB one, which was the bill, in terms of the bathroom, the famous bathroom bill, you know, that people had to use bathrooms in accordance with their their sex assigned at birth and not in accordance with their gender identity. And there was a huge outcry, not just in the trans community, but in the community writ large. And there were boycotts. And there were people who wouldn’t, wouldn’t go to North Carolina and put on concerts wouldn’t, you know, they canceled conventions, they, you know, I think it might have been the NCAA wouldn’t play a tournament game there, you know, that there was a, a huge outpouring of support for the trans community. I don’t see that anymore. I mean, you know, we have, you know, states like Florida that pass, you know, bills that are designed to discriminate against the LGBTQ community writ large. We have the state of Texas investigating parents of trans children for, you know, child abuse, because they are supportive of their trans kids. We have states passing statutes banning health care for trans kids. And yet there doesn’t seem to be this larger outcry from the community saying, You can’t do that. That’s what we need to do. And I And again, you know, that’s not going to happen tomorrow. But the word has to go out that we need the support of all of our allies, whether you’re straight, whether you’re gay, whether you’re by what regardless, we need your support. And, you know, I think people lose sight of the fact that we’re being attacked just because of who we are. Why would anybody stand for somebody being attacked for just who they are? That that goes against everything that this country stands for? And yet, there’s no outcry.
Brad Shreve 30:03
You know, I wish I could remember the laws is it’s ridiculous that they’ve escaped me. But Georgia, several years ago passed some very discriminatory laws against LGBTQ people. And a lot of movies and TVs are filmed in Georgia. So as soon as that happened, I’m like, Oh, good. Let’s see Hollywood say they’re done. And you know what, almost every TV show I watch. It ends with that little Georgia peach on there that says, Thank you to the Georgia Film Commission or whatever. Yep, it’s made no waves in an industry that normally would be the first to react. And so disheartening,
it really is disheartening. That’s a good word, to see. If it doesn’t impact me personally, then why should I care about it. And people don’t realize, just because it doesn’t impact you personally. It impacts the people that you know that you love, that you care about your neighbors, your family, your co workers, it impacts them. And if you care about the people that that you work with live with are related to you, you should be outraged by it.
Brad Shreve 31:19
I’m going to tell on myself here because I don’t know a better way to ask this question. So total honesty on the plate with me here. On me. Before I came out, there were a lot of things I resented I really resented pride events, because I looked at the float and I saw the guys in the pink thongs wearing the feather boas and dancing. And I’m like, I don’t want people to think that’s not me. That’s not I don’t want people to think that’s who I am, which I’ll admit now sounds awfully fabulous. But didn’t sound that good to me that and so I really resented that. But I also have to admit, I had a strong resentment towards trans people, because I didn’t want to be a woman, I have no desire to be a woman, and is that it was all blended together in my head, like, is that what being openly gay is? Or is that how people are going to see me and I was that way for way too long. And when it changed is when I got sober and was in a sober living out. That was an LGBTQ house. And I had a great number of fabulous trans individuals that I lived with. And we all say it’s ignorance. Well, I certainly learned very quickly, it was all about ignorance for me. So have you heard this type of story before?
Yeah, I think so many people confuse sexual orientation and gender identity, which, you know, when I, when I talk to groups, I always try to explain that they they’re not related in, you know, your, your sexual orientation is, who you’re attracted to your gender identity is who you are. And the shorthand that I use, and I’m not alone in using it is, you know, sex or sexual orientation is who you want to go to bed with gender identity is who you want to go to bed as. And I think part of the confusion for a lot of people, whether they’re in the LGBTQ plus community, or they’re, or they’re not, is, you know, you have drag performers, who may well be gay men, they may not be transgender in any way. And so in some people’s mind, they see that as Oh, you know, that that drag performer is transgender? Well, they may not be. So I think there’s that confusion that arises from drag in not just within the LGBTQ community, but within the, you know, the world at large. And I just wish people could understand that for somebody who’s transgender, or somebody like me, I didn’t ask to be the way I am. I mean, just like people don’t ask to be gay or straight, or bi. You know, you just are you, you don’t know why you’re attracted to who you’re attracted to you, you just are. And I say the same thing for someone’s gender identity. I don’t know why I was assigned male at birth, yet have always had a female gender identity. I don’t know why. It’s beyond me. I am not, you know, smart enough to understand it. But this is who I am. And this is who I’ve always been. And I know it’s not necessarily my experience is not necessarily the same as every trans person’s experience. But I could I wish I could get people to understand that gender identity being trans. It’s not a lifestyle choice. We don’t choose this. And I think for so many people, I think the disconnect is that when you say what makes you a man or a woman, their immediate reaction is to think of genitalia, you know, and when I talked about it, I said, Okay, let’s take the example of that the unfortunate exists ample of a man who in a horrible accident, a cisgender male has a horrible accent, and he loses his genitalia. He won’t wake up the next day and say, Oh, I guess I’m a woman. Your genitalia doesn’t dictate your gender identity. It’s just ingrained in you just like your sexual orientation is, it’s who you are, and who you know who you are. And I think for so many people, I think sexual orientation is a little bit easier to understand because most people have a sexual orientation. They know that, you know, whether they’re attracted to men, women, both none, whereas people don’t think about their gender identity. So it’s a hard concept for people to wrap their heads around. And yet for someone who’s trans, I mean, it’s just an essential part of who we are.
Brad Shreve 35:53
What you said reminds me a lot of a movie from a while back, he started Richard Dreyfus, and it was called, whose life is it anyway? Oh, yes. I don’t know if my Yeah. Okay, it was great. And the story is that Richard Rice’s character is in auto action is paralyzed from the neck down. And he has this wonderful relationship with this woman. And I don’t know if it was in the play, but in the movie, he finally tells her go away, you can’t come back. And she doesn’t understand. And he said, even though what is between my legs now really is almost nothing more than knotted string. I still have my brain. And that hasn’t changed. And that’s exactly what you just said.
Yeah, it again, people tend to think of what makes us you know, male, female, none of the above in terms of genitalia were, no, it’s your brain. It’s who you are. And again, I’m not smart enough to know why this is why I’ve always felt this way. I know, I didn’t choose to be it. It just is who I am.
Brad Shreve 37:03
Let’s get to your writing a little bit. Okay. As far as I know, talking about a small segment of society. You are only one of three trans individuals that I know of that is a crime writer. Do I have that right? Do you know?
Yeah, I mean, I know of Dharma kalah her Renee, James and myself? I don’t know of others. There probably are. Yes. I don’t know of anyone else. And, you know, I always you know the genre in terms of, you know, crime writers. You know, I do legal thrillers. I’m a lawyer. So my characters are lawyers. I know like in dharmas case. She has a transgender bounty hunter. In Rene’s case, it’s a transgender, hairdresser, different little nuances in terms of what we’re writing about.
Brad Shreve 37:53
Those are the three out that I know of. Yeah, we never know how many really, I haven’t read Rene, I’m gonna have to read some of her books. I love yours. And I love Dermacolor hers. So, but let’s talk about yours. You’ve written two novels so far in your Aaron McCabe thriller series. The first one’s by way of sorrow. The second one that just came out earlier this year survivor’s guilt. And I noticed today you already have on Amazon, you have a third one coming next May. I don’t recall the name of that one. But it’s book three in there and McCabe’s series, tell us about the series and tell us who is Aaron McCabe.
So let me go to the two you’re not remembering the name of the third one. It’s called remain silent. And it and it will come out the end of May just in time for pride 2023. And so good timing. Yes, we kind of did that on purpose. Or at least my publisher did it on purpose, I should say. Now, Aaron McCabe is a when the series starts, she’s 35 years old. She’s a transgender criminal defense attorney who has transitioned three years before the timing of the the first novel, which takes place in starts in 2006. And Aaron, as I said, is a criminal defense attorney along with her partner, Dwayne Swisher. And, you know, she’s just a character that I had written a manuscript before by way of sorrow that had a, you know, the protagonist was a transgender lawyer,
but she was to me, she was she was too much like me.
And so when I switched and started writing, Aaron McCabe, I wanted somebody who was not me. So as I said, she’s 35 So she’s, she’s half my age. She’s a very attractive woman. She has a, you know, relation. She had a relationship with her wife, she’s now in a relationship with a man. And so I wanted somebody who was Different from me. But yet that was in the same milieu that I could work in in terms of being a criminal defense lawyer in my 45 year career as a lawyer, I’ve done a lot of criminal defense. She’s transgender, and I put her in 2006 and purpose, so I could deal with some of the issues looking retrospectively at them. You know, so I just had really fun creating this world, which is, it’s in New Jersey and deals with, you know, sites in New Jersey. But Erin and her partner Dwayne, and in particular Aaron’s mom, Peg McCabe are characters that I just enjoy spending time with.
Brad Shreve 40:46
And I got so you got so much attention from both your novels and their well deserved the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly? Uh, how did you handle that? I mean, was that a surprise? When all that happened?
I think the answer the the last part, was it a surprise? No, it was a shock. But, I mean, I think it was very easy for me to handle because both of my books came out in the middle of the pandemic. So I mean, there was, you know, not a lot to do other than, you know, some some podcast and some zoom events and things like that.
Brad Shreve 41:29
Oh, hold on, hold here. This whole it was a pandemic, and I’m not a damn good writer. I don’t know if this is writing well.
Who wasn’t a damn good writer? I think, you know, look, I I don’t know where I am. As a writer, I, you know, when I see author when I google myself, and the first thing that comes up is author, I still kind of cringe because I’m used to attorney. But no. And, and look, I am not trying to be self deprecating, yes, it was shocking, when I got the news that by way of sorrow was going to be reviewed in the New York Times, you could have knocked me over with with a feather. But I will also say I mean, you know, in terms of broad success, you know, it, they haven’t been overwhelming commercial successes in terms of, you know, being on bestseller list or getting awards or anything like that. So I’m not complaining in any way, the fact that I am a published author, the fact that both of my books were reviewed in the New York Times exceed my expectations beyond any measure. If you had told me that four years ago, and 2018, before, you know, by way of sorrow got picked up by Kensington, I would have been like, what what what are you smoking? Did they legalize marijuana? Because, again, it wasn’t just surprising. It was shocking. It’s been overwhelming. I’m not complaining at all. But I mean, you know, it, they did come out in the pandemic. And so it wasn’t like I had booked tours or anything like that. Because, you know, we were went by way of sorrow came out in in March of 2021. I mean, we were still on lockdown. I mean, you know, there were, there was no place to go. So,
Brad Shreve 43:29
earlier, you mentioned about your books not being a huge success, you may not have won a lot of awards, but the fact that you have two published novels, a third on the way and you’re already contracted for a fourth one, you’re doing pretty damn well.
Well, thank you, Brad. I, this is beyond my wildest dreams. I don’t I I am not, you know, complaining even a little bit that I haven’t won awards. It’s sold a lot of books. You. It’s, it’s just unbelievable.
Brad Shreve 44:03
I’m glad you’re reaching those dreams.
Thank you. You deserve it.
Brad Shreve 44:07
When you decided to become an attorney first, I’m curious at what age you decided that and did you want to be an attorney in the Perry Mason sensor? I know, some attorneys said they started because I wanted to make a difference.
And I think I fall into that group as well. I decided, you know, in college that I’m not sure I was qualified to do anything else. You know, I was, you know, not the science whiz or the math whiz and and I thought, you know, law school, you know, becoming a lawyer might be some someplace I could go where I could make a difference in and again, keep in mind, I was was coming of age, the late 60s, early 70s. You know, there was, you know, the protests against the war in Vietnam. There were all kinds of things going on. On on college campuses that had never happened before. So activism was, you know, a part of our lives. And I thought that this was a way that I could help change the world. Of course, I didn’t change the world. But you know, I do think that my motivation at the time was that maybe I can make a difference.
Brad Shreve 45:20
No, you haven’t changed the world. But I have no doubt you made a difference. And I thank you for that. Thank you. These are dark times right now, what kind of words of hope or optimism Can you give people today?
Well, it is, these are dark times. But I do think that you see so many good people rising to the fore, trying to make a difference, and hopefully making a difference. Now, as I said earlier, we’re in such a far different place when I was a child growing up, I think each generation takes us a little bit closer to where we need to be. So you know, my generation, as I said, I late 60s, early 70s, we were going to change the world. And we didn’t change the world for good. I mean, we didn’t, no denying that. But when I look at my kids generations, they’re in their 30s. And when I look at the kids in their 20s, and I look at the kids in their teens, I am so much more hopeful, because I do really believe that they have the ability and the drive and and the desire to make the world a better place. And I think as as we fade off into the sunset, and as those generations come to the fore, I do think the world will be a better place.
Brad Shreve 46:44
Robin, I want to thank you very much for being my guest.
Brad, it’s been an honor privilege, and I’ve had so much fun. Thank you.
Brad Shreve 46:53
This is Robin Geigle. She practice law in the state of New Jersey and does a whole lot of activism there. In addition, she’s an outstanding author and I highly suggest you read her novels in the Aaron McCabe thriller series. Do you enjoy this show? If so, tell a friend because the number one way podcasts grow is word of mouth. So pass it on so others can enjoy Queer We Are.