Intro from Jay Allison: “Finding Miles” took over a year to record and produce. In the crush of daily journalism on the radio, it’s rare to hear a story unwind over time. Sarah Reynolds writes, “I first knew Miles as Megan back in college. When he decided to transition from female to male, he gave me a call. He was slowly coming out to his friends as transgender — testing them, really — to see who he could still count on. The radio producer in me kicked in and I thought, this is quite a story about to unravel. I pitched him the idea and he agreed to do it: we would document his transition for radio.”This brave and intimate diary illuminates gender transition in an immediate way—from the mundane practical considerations to the fundamental identity transformation. Take some time to follow this path with Megan toward Miles. And talk to Sarah about her producing challenges, like editing a voice which steadily deepens over time from testosterone treatment.
About Finding Miles from Sarah Reynolds
I first knew Miles as Megan back in college. When he decided to transition from female to male, he gave me a call. He was slowly coming out to his friends as transgender — testing them, really — to see who he could still count on. The radio producer in me kicked in and I thought, this is quite a story about to unravel. I pitched him the idea and he agreed to do it: we would document his transition for radio.
We began in November of 2008. I taught Miles how to use the gear and he used it for just over a year. In the beginning, he would mostly sit in his room and record at the end of the day very quietly. Miles is shy (as he’ll tell you himself) and when he took the recorder with him, he would often walk around with the mic under his arm or in his bag. But slowly he grew comfortable and more willing to take the gear with him.
As he went, he would send me audio files through an FTP site. I downloaded them and listened along the way, jotting down questions and suggestions about what else I wanted to hear. We met up in person and checked in on the phone every few weeks and each time we did, I recorded him.
One of the most challenging things for me was producing through his voice change. Miles began taking testosterone about five months after we began our recording. If I didn’t keep right up with the tape each week and get everything I thought I needed, I wouldn’t be able to get it again. But as we know, the story always shifts as you go along and it’s hard to get everything you need – especially when you’re not doing all the interviewing yourself. Miles’ voice deepened quickly and at a certain point, I only had a deeper voiced Miles to reflect on what had already happened.
By the end of 2009, Miles had gone through surgery, was further into testosterone treatment, out at work, in life, at home and this chapter of his life came to a natural conclusion – always a good place to end a radio piece. I listened to every minute of tape and pulled together a story – only part of a story, really – but one that captures Megan to Miles and how he found a better space to fit into this crazy world of binaries. It was an amazing process to witness and one that still continues beyond this piece of radio. Miles is courageous for sharing it.
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About Finding Miles from Miles Taylor
I can honestly say that today I am not the same person I was when I began recording my story during the winter of 2008. So much has happened over the past 18 months, I’m caught between feeling like it’s flown by in an incredibly profound blur and thinking it’s also been the longest, most hectic &#$% year and a half of my life!
This piece was made from probably over a hundred hours of tape (a tip of the hat to my producer, though that’s probably the last time she’ll ever tell anyone “More is better than less!”). Frankly, I think I got the easy end of this deal; all I had to do was carry around a microphone.
Transitioning is a once in a lifetime experience very few people get to have–although one which I would never want to go through again. As I got closer to starting hormones, I knew I wanted to document it in some way: journals, photos, videos. And it was right around that time when Sarah approached me about making an audio documentary. I’ve never been one for the spotlight so I surprised myself when I barely hesitated before saying yes; I also knew I would be putting myself into very trust worthy hands. One thing led to the next and we got the tape rolling.
The more I recorded the easier it got. People generally wouldn’t describe me as a ‘talker’ so having to talk and talk and talk (and then talk some more, especially all about myself) was a learning experience all together. But once I got into it, the microphone became a therapist and, on some level, a friend. Transitioning is a very consuming process and more often than not, I found that I had little else to talk to my friends about. During this time, it was great having the recorder as an additional outlet. Most of the time I wasn’t thinking to myself that I was recording this for a documentary, I was recording because it was helping me survive.
I found that as I got further into my transition–hormones started, breasts gone, fully transitioned at work and 100% male in the public’s eye–the less compelled I was to sit down and record. I was burned out; I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted to put everything transition related behind me.
I honestly don’t know what would have become of my life had I not transitioned. I’m still struggling to find my peace but I’m closer now than I have ever been before. And I am glad that I have it all documented–for myself and for anyone this may help. Special thanks to Sharone, Chris and Noreen for their support.
Miles used a Sony PCM D50 and a Beyer omni mic, courtesy of Transom. Sarah used a Marantz 620 and an Audio Technica Omni 8010 microphone when conducting interviews with Miles. They would often record interviews over the phone – Miles using his gear and recording himself, and Sarah using hers to record her questions. Sarah used Express Scribe to log and transcribe over 100 hours of tape and produced the piece in ProTools.