#33 Seth Babbitt of Tuesday X
As of December 2018, this episode is not available.
Seth approached me a couple weeks before this episode was taped, expressing interest in being interviewed on Prairie Goth. He had a new Tuesday X release coming up before Why Not Fest, and was looking to promote it.
I’ve had misgivings about my conversation with Seth since it happened, and should never have aired this recording. Being that I did air it, in that event, I also should have included a trigger warning for transphobia at the beginning of the interview. Publishing this episode was a mistake. It was a rookie move, and I regret it.
The situation Seth put me in – just, please, never do this to any transgender person ever; never put a trans person in the situation of having to explain or justify their existence to you. At the very least, it’s stripping the trans person of their dignity; at worst, it’s just cruelty. This recording captured me panicking — although, I was able to, for the most part, outwardly keep my calm. I felt very uncomfortable, shocked, and frustrated during and after recording this conversation, and I’m still embarrassed about it a year later, so I’m pulling it.
I’m including a transcript of an excerpt of this interview below. Seth being “confused … about transgenderism” isn’t the only problem I’ve had with this conversation and episode.
I also would like to use this moment as a reminder that I’m not a journalist and that interviews are not endorsements.
Seth Babbitt is from Williston, ND. When this episode was originally aired, he was the frontman of the band Tuesday X with bassist Anthony Flores and drummer Bastian Doney. Seth was also a member of Missoula Subaru, Squid Face and the Amberlamps. You can find Tuesday X on Bandcamp and Facebook.
There are many, many resources to learn about trans people and what it means to be transgender. Here are a few good places to start:
I would also recommend Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl and Sarah McBride’s Tomorrow Will Be Different.
Is Prairie Goth a place to discuss trans experiences? For sure. And I’m happy to answer respectful questions at appropriate times when I’m able. You can even contact me. The problem is that trans people are asked to ‘explain themselves’ all the time, and that’s not okay, especially when you’re coming from a place of ignorance and you hardly know the trans person at all. Seth is an acquaintance of mine and I’ve only known him in the context of the music scene and local shows.
The following excerpt was edited for length and clarity. I have to point out that Seth pronounced the word "misogyny" with a hard G.
Seth Babbitt: We're writing a lot, too. Mostly instrumental, like, stuff that I never thought I'd ever get into. A lot of, like, technical, almost borderline mathcore stuff.
Nora Nygard: Oh really?
SB: Stuff I never thought I'd be able to play, but just stuff that I doodle with a bit, and it sounds cool. It almost reminds me of early Icarus the Owl or Kill Your Ex if you know who they are.
SB: If you know who Icarus the Owl is, Kill Your Ex was Joey Rubinstein's band right before Icarus the Owl. It's basically the same band but with different people.
NN: Oh my god. That's the worst fucking band name. You know, I like [Icarus the Owl], but god, they have a misogynist vibe to them. It's just, I can't — that I can't get over. So.
SB: It's — and a lot of people have issues with them, and it's complicated for me.
NN: Really? What is that —
SB: A lot of people really do, because they have this weird like vibe that they put out when they hang out after their shows, like they seem like they're a little like isolated and they just keep to themselves or the people that they know really well.
NN: Yeah. I don't mind that. I just mind misogynists.
NN: I mean, if people want to be alone for a little bit, you know?
SB: I don't know, I guess —
NN: But, I don’t know, I mean, but maybe, maybe you're saying they're stuck up.
SB: I don't know, I guess, things like that I don't really notice. It's —
NN: Like what?
SB: I don't know, like — misogyny — there's — I know it's a problem and I'm — like, I have a lot of problems with it too, I admit.
SB: There are a lot of moments where I am a horrible misogynist, and I'm working on that. I want to have a more open mind and like, I just, I don't know. I don't like — it's really complicated, like I don't know how to explain it. I know there's a lot of things that I do wrong that a lot of people don't like. Like the way I approach people sometimes.
SB: Or the way that I approach like topics or conversations and I don't really think about it —
SB: But somebody would be offended by it and —
NN: Like what? Do you have an example?
SB: Um. Let's see, like, I don't know, like —
NN: Like the way that you bring up certain...?
SB: Like, I think the biggest issue with it is, is sometimes I honestly have the hardest understanding of the definition of it, and I forget it, and I just think of it as a word, and that's honestly like the most honest answer I can say about that because —
SB: I don't have a complete understanding of it —
NN: Of misogyny?
SB: And it's a thing with like sexism and even racism too.
SB: Like, a lot of the time I feel like I have moments where I feel like I'm actually being very sexist or racist and I'm not intending to be, but it's just something that, like —
SB: I don't notice, and I'm trying to work on that because I don't want to be that guy. I don't want to be the guy who offends people or makes people mad for no reason or says something that crosses lines.
SB: I don't want to step — I don't want to like walk on glass or anything but like I just — I just want to be in that neutral zone of like understanding and accepting everything is the way it is and I'm trying to get to that point because I don't pay attention to what I'm saying or thinking half the time when I'm doing it, and sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble, like at work I made — I was talking to my friends, my coworkers, the other day at work and one of them said some really — they were saying something like, "do you want, do you want [inaudible] to watch us streak?" or something like that and I thought I heard them as something else and I replied with a really weird answer and I didn't realize that there were customers behind us.
NN: Oh no.
SB: And it's just like things like that I don't think about it. I guess it's kind of like social awkwardness, like, I just kind of — I get to this point where I'm just comfortable and I just let my mind think what it wants and say what it wants without actually thinking, is it good or bad.
SB: It's something I'm working on.
NN: Interesting. How are you working on it?
SB: I'm trying to pay attention to what I'm saying, what I'm thinking, trying to keep my mind straight. It's really hard to — because again, like I said, it's something I don't notice a lot and I think a lot of people are like that too.
NN: Yeah I think so too.
SB: We all have a problem with it, we don't think about it because we're just so used to it, it's just been so accepted by society even though a lot of the time it's not right.
NN: Yeah, yeah, totally. Like, internalized sort of like bigotry and hate of like all stripes is, like, something that I feel like the majority of people have to really work on to, like, slowly undo over the course of their, sometimes, lives even.
SB: There's a lot of hate.
SB: What I would like in the music scene overall, no matter where I go, is to just be in a place that's accepting.
SB: Because I know what it's like to go to a music scene and feel like you don't belong there. I know what it's like to go somewhere and feel like people don't like you because of how you are, and you — I know, I know you know what it's like especially.
SB: Like with things the last year, and I'm gonna be completely honest with that. The whole situation with you — it doesn't, like — all I can say about it is, I'm just a little confused. Not like confused with you, just —
NN: About my gender?
SB: No, not about your gender, just about transgenderism as a whole.
SB: Like, it doesn't scare me, I'm not offended by it, I'm just a little confused.
NN: You don't understand it, yeah.
SB: Like, and it's something that — I'm glad I'm friends with you, and you're going through this because I'd love to understand more about it.
NN: What do you want to know? Do you have questions?
SB: Just like — I don't know if I have — like, it's complicated because I do have questions but I feel like they're really personal questions.
NN: Okay, so I'll say — I'll say a few things and maybe that'll be a good, like, starting point.
In April 2019, Seth emailed me with an apology.
I wanted first to apologize for our conversation in August of 2017. To be honest, I never intended for that conversation to go the way it did and I was nervous about it from the second we started talking about it. The last thing I ever wanted was to make you uncomfortable and put you into a situation where you felt targeted or threatened. For one thing, my comments were ignorant and uncalled for and I have no right as a human being to make another human being explain themselves or their identity, especially in their own comfort space. My comments on misogyny and being trans were out of line and uneducated and I can't apologize enough for putting you in that situation.
Seth also indicated that his current musical project was effectively ended.
As far as Tuesday X goes, I'm done performing and making music. Its been made clear to me that I have no purpose making music and I have a lot of growing up to do before I even consider being an active member of this scene again.