Marissa Alexa McCool, 32, is a podcaster, author, performer, speaker, and an LGBT rights/atheist activist. She’s a trans woman, married, partnered, and a parent. Born in Akron, Ohio and currently residing in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her family, she graduated the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 with degrees in English, Cinema and Media Studies, and Anthropology, while also studying theatre, Shakespeare, and communication theory. Within the atheist community, she’s spoken at Lehigh Valley Humanists, Minnesota Atheists, Skepticon 10, NaNoCon 3, and several others.
Marissa came out as a trans woman in 2016 while attending the University of Pennsylvania by screaming in the face of a hate preacher, and soon followed it up with an immediate post-election book/rant called The PC Lie: How American Voters Decided I Don’t Matter, which also featured a foreword from former NFL punter and LGBT rights activist Chris Kluwe, other atheist podcasters, and general reactions of the moment in time. Since then, she has written two novels, False Start which featured pieces from other writers including Lucinda Lugeons of The Scathing Atheist podcast, and Voice in the Dark, which included a foreword from Dan Arel, as well as pieces from Matthew O’Neil, The Scathing Atheist Noah Lugeons, Faithless Feminist Karen Garst, and others. Garst also wrote the foreword for Marissa’s most recent book, Passing Cars: The Internal Monologue of a Neurodivergent Trans Girl. Marissa’s other book, Silent Dreams, is a book of essays and poems she wrote during her senior year in college at Penn.
In February 2016, before she came out, she started the Inciting Incident Podcast. Having been out since episode 70, the show has featured prominent atheist voices as well as intimate interviews with everyday people. Her co-host, Bethany Futrell of Chicago Atheists, has been on the show since episode 100.
She also started a podcast with co-host of The Gaytheist Manifesto, Ari Stillman, called The Cis Are Getting Out of Hand, which is a trans-specific show using humor and skits to talk about issues that the trans community faces specifically for a trans audience, as opposed to having to do 101 and define and explain everything.
Marissa was the first trans person in the 17-year history of the UPenn production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues to appear in the show. She won a 2014 Keystone Award for Excellence in Journalism, a 2015 audience choice award at the Hershey Student Film Festival for a short film, and co-founded The Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative with Callie Wright in 2017. She tends to blend her theatrical background and fiery passion for atheism, humanist and secular values, and intersectionality.