Jahn Westbrook

by jahn westbrook

Long Island native, Ryan Cassata, now residing in San Francisco, is an award winning LGBTQ activist and an accomplished singer-song writer.

This 22 year old, Californian transplant, came out as transgender at the young age of 13, with the encouragement and stalwart support of his high school freshman English teacher, Mrs. Nell Kalter. Years later, Mrs. Kalter awarded Ryan with the first Harvey Milk award from Bay Shore High School. Bay Shore High School is also Harvey Milk alma mater.

Ryan, born female, came out in 2012 when the New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act against bullying and discrimination didn’t exist. He took his fate in his own hands and began petitioning for his rights, centered around bathroom use, where he felt safe. He even took his campaign into the community collecting over 1,000 names supporting his request to have his male name in the high school yearbook.


Transitioning in High School challenged his confidence. Like many transgender individuals, Ryan had to educate teachers and students. “Basically, they were really just ignorant,” Ryan recalls, “and I had to make a lot of changes within my high school…so that I could survive it.”

Even though his is an LGBT advocate, he gets backlash for not being ‘trans enough’. His chest modification surgery was the extent of his physical transition into the male body type. Ryan feels comfortable within the gender binary spectrum, and not pitched to either end.

In a recent buzzfeed interview, Ryan explained why he feels he doesn’t need hormones as part of his male transition. He initially wanted to start hormones at age 16. His mother asked him to wait until he turned 18, which he did. This decision gave him pause to consider his transition, though he thought about hormones and fully transitioning to fit into the stereotype every day. His love of music and singing ultimately decided him to not take hormones for fear of altering his voice with testosterone.


Music was his means of escape and solace. “Any time I was going through something that was difficult, I was able to write a song to express myself in that way,” says Cassata. “It made everything in my life easier.” The Advocate has called him a “transgender singing sensation.” He is now a successful musician, with over 1 million views on his youtube channel, and has 4 iTunes albums, including his newest release, Shine. “Bedroom Eyes,” off the album Shine, is a mature take on a one-night-stand, shot beautifully in B/W.

Ryan’s most viewed video on youtube is “Hands of Hate” (Anti-Bullying/LGBT Suicide Awareness Video). Recorded 3 years ago, it shows his passion for the LGBT community.

He is a truly talented and passionate musician, person, advocate. He tours as well as does speaking engagements. He releases new music every Friday at 12:00p PT on youtube. More information on Ryan Cassata is available on his web site.

mir, irini, peace, amn




TU Articles