Posts Tagged ‘lesbian

13
Feb
14

“Transparent” A transparent Trans review.

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I just finished watching the pilot episode for “Transparent” the latest attempt out of Hollywood to portray the trans experience. And Wow. I mean, really, wow. That was not what I expected.

And I mean that as high praise. At least kind of. But let me explain.

I would be lying if I said I had gone into this without expectations. I’ve been hearing about this show for quite some time now. First rumours. Then confirmation. Then hints through the trans pipeline about the behind the scenes production.

It took very little detective action to take a look at who was working on this. It even turned out that I was connected to the director, Jill Soloway from about 20 different directions. Including the husband of the first woman I ever had a crush on at summer camp. Who I recently reconnected with when she asked if she could take some naked pictures of me! (They’re on the internet, if you really want to know that much about me. And they’re quite nice really!)

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Seriously, so much enduring love to my queer friend who saw through the facade of “straight white guy” and gave me her copy of this to read.

So that’s my full disclosure of a sort. And I went in with split expectations. On the one hand, some of the people I was connected to the director through are people whom I admire a great deal. Including my mentor and friend, the amazing improviser, David Razowsky. I also was very impressed by the work Soloway has done previously. Including as a producer and writer of the series Six Feet Under and director of a section of a film based on the autobiographical novel Valencia by queer author Michelle Tea. A book that was really quite inspirational to me when I read it out in L.A. just previous to my transition.

On the other hand. Hollywood hasn’t been doing the most bang-up job of representing trans people lately. There have been close steps, almost okays, but then they invariably fail.

With only a couple of exceptions, the late night television roster seems to have been a veritable factory of faux-pas and insensitive portrayals lately. And in primetime, we are still far too often portrayed as sex objects, psychos or the as punchline for jokes that were already old when Milton Berle was putting on a dress for laughs.

So I’ll admit, when I saw that the pilot for Transparent was out on Amazon Prime, I pressed play with a great deal of skepticism. If perhaps skepticism tempered with a bit of hope.

And right from the first moment, I was surprised. First of all, the titles. These weird, throwbacky, seventies sitcom style titles. A font that looked lifted straight from The Jeffersons.

As a child whose favourite babysitter growing up in the Seventies and Eighties was our little black and white tv, I was hooked instantly on a wriggling worm of nostalgia. So, imagine my surprise when the very next shot is of a couple in bed and, and….

Waitaminute! They’re showing that woman naked!

This isn’t the seventies anymore, this is how people actually sleep in their beds as couples!! Naked, with sheets partly thrown off. Because it gets hot in L.A.!

Holy heck!

Already I knew that whatever expectations I might have where going to be up for grabs. Still, I watched each scene, waiting for the reveal, ready to be all clever and know-it-all trans advice columnist and say, “Ah ha!” I knew the hammer was about to drop!! There it is! There’s the awful, cheap joke about a guy in a dress!

But it kept not happening.

Now, I don’t want to give too many spoilers here. I suggest that you watch the show yourself. Give it your own attention. If I were to tell you too, too much it would spoil what I liked most about it. Which was that I found it consistently surprising.

What I will tell you is that Jeffrey Tambor was quite sensitive in his portrayal of a late-middle-aged father in the beginnings of male-to-female transition. I consistently liked how he played each scene he was in. And his relationship with his three children was very real feeling to me.

Also, it’s a great deal more adult than what you may be used to on network tv. There’s nudity and there’s sex. Quite a lot of it actually for a half hour sitcom.

If that’s not your thing, you might want to steer clear. I know I have one friend who is not at all prudish personally, but who consistently fast-forwards through love scenes, because she just hates them! She’d get a nice short film out of this episode.

As for myself, I liked the more adult theme, mainly because I think it gives the writers a lot more leeway to explore genuine human stories. It opens up far more avenues than traditional sitcoms are able to explore. Which in turn, I hope, will allow the cast and writers to flesh out (Ha!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist…) a more authentic portrayal of the trans woman of the title and the characters around her.

F--k Yeah Jim Croce!!!

F–k Yeah Jim Croce!!!

There were a few other touches I liked personally. The music was one of them. There is a very nice scene where the daughter and son of the main character are going through their dad’s record collection and they stop to comment on a Jim Croce album that they loved.

The whole scene reminded me very much of my own father and his record collection. Which included that same Croce album, which I loved as well!

For me, that allowed me to flip perspectives and identify also with the kids of this trans parent. Their characters being much more of my own generation, than Tambor’s trans character.

As for Tambor himself, I also harboured very conflicted feelings. I really, really like Jeffrey Tambor as an actor.  And though he’s perhaps better known for his roles in Arrested Development or The Larry Sanders Show. I was a huge fan of the show, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future when I was a geeky punk teenager. In fact, in many ways it was pretty seminal to the person I became. It still inspires what I aspire to be. “Live and direct.”

But picturing Tambor’s character from that show, a harried, perpetually stressed out television producer named Murray, as a trans woman, was causing me a bit of dissonance, to put it mildly. It was a little hard to shake.

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But Murray!! Your mustache is so epic!

Also, I’m really tired of seeing cis people (Someone who identifies as the gender they were identified as at birth. Ie., not trans.) play trans in tv and movies. Still, Tambor does an excellent acting job here, and given the early transition time period of this show, I found the casting to be actually appropriate.

To the producer’s credit, there appeared to be several authentic trans people playing smaller parts. And I have it on fairly good authority that if this show gets picked up for more episodes, they plan on casting a credible ensemble of genuine trans people. Fingers crossed.

So, would I recommend this show? Though I know the sort of trouble I could get in to with my more radical friends for saying this; yes, yes I would. I think it’s worth at least giving a chance to.

Transparent is currently available on Amazon Prime as an Amazon Original Pilot. A “Test Pilot” if you will! (I know, I know! Listen, I was a comic before I was a radical trans activist okay?? A girl’s just gotta get these things out sometimes.) And if enough people watch it and tell Amazon that they like it, the show will get a go at more episodes.

I rather hope it does. I’m curious to see where they go with this story and these characters. I’m hopeful they might even do it right! Certainly if they can continue to be able to surprise my jaded media-analyzing self, they’ll be on the right track.

And finally, I personally hope it gets picked up because, speaking frankly, I’d love to be part of that cast! This queer trans, activist, adventurer and pageant queen is ready to balance out all the marching and saving the world stuff with a little more of the making people laugh scene again!!

Slainte!

04
Dec
10

An open response to the author of “‘Transwomen’ Are Merely Castrated Men”.

Dear Bev Jo,

Wow.  I had to sit down and pour myself a large glass of Irish whiskey before I tried to respond to your essay, entitled, “’Transwomen’ Are Merely Castrated Men”.  I always seem to forget that such hatred still exists among folks who should understand us the best.

First of all, I am glad that this essay was reposted, despite it’s initial removal.  I do not believe in censorship or the suppression of ideas in any way shape or form.  I am also glad to see your essay returned to this forum Bev, because of a basic rule I learned in High School journalism class.  Or rather the explanation of the rule.

The rule was an admonition against editorializing unnecessarily.  The explanation we were given was that, if you give enough rope to someone with a bad or hateful or simply misguided opinion, they will as sure as the sunrise hang themselves from their own words.

Fortunately for this response, I ended up not as a strict journalist, but as a columnist.  I hang myself from my own words for (a tiny portion of) a living!!

The first time I came across this essay, I just skipped past it.  Given the headline, I was pretty certain of the brand of hate I would find.  I’ve been forcing myself to read Janice Raymond’s “The Transsexual Empire” recently out of a desire to be as fully and accurately informed about the material which has been used to support and to justify the oppression of my sisters and brothers for so very many years.

“Know thine enemy,” as it were.

You can imagine my surprise when I realized that Prof. Raymond’s book was classic Science Fiction!!!  It was a familiar formula to any sci-fi nerd.  She starts with ideas and examples that are pretty close to things that are actually going on in the real world of today.  The male dominated medical establishment for example.  An establishment that for many years forced transwomen into very heteronormative boxes and roles if they wanted to be able to transition, to receive PERMISSION to be themselves.

But then Prof. Raymond takes these examples and spins them out into pure paranoid fantasy!!  She imagines an evil cabal of men and their occasional female lackey-puppets, who conspire in backrooms and high offices to infiltrate female spaces and minds through the crafty deployment of their “She-Male” shock troops!!

I’m not even trying to refute the long-held and insidious power of our overly-Patriarchal society here.  I’m just saying that what Prof. Raymond suggests would be a dumb plan!  If it were an episode of Star Trek, you’d accuse the writers of being cheap hacks!!

So I skipped your article Bev Jo.  Daily life was beating me up pretty badly as it was this week and I had little desire to be insulted or belittled by the words of a Raymond acolyte.

But then this afternoon a friend from the local LGBT community posted the link for your essay to my facebook page with the comment that I should, “(… )get all on top of this! I couldn’t read past the 4th paragraph…… completely aghast….”  So I clicked the link and began to read.  And while I always try to keep an open mind, it was much as I expected.  Vintage venom.

I’m left wondering about some things Bev.  And yes, I’m talking to you as much as I’m talking to the other folks reading this.

You make wild assumptions and broad categorizations about transwomen.  You seem to think we are all of one mold.  So I ask you this:  Are you exactly like your lesbian sisters?  Are every one of you “man haters”?  For that matter, do all cisgender women, in your opinion, have the same motivations and desires?  Is there an agenda you are all following?

How would you feel if someone seriously suggested these things to you?  Stated them as fact.

I noticed that one of your supporting commenters was using the name of a famous female serial killer.  Does that mean all women are killers?

That’s basically the type of analogy you use to link transwomen to the individuals who fired guns at Michigan Womyn’s Fest.  Where you actually use concrete examples, you make exceptionally broad inferences about all transwomen based on very small samples.

Would it be okay if you said, “All black people are… “ or “Catholics are simply…”?

You seem so full of hate and willful ignorance.  Your words indicate that you haven’t even considered expanding your worldview, or even considering any new arguments in at least 3 decades.  I find that sad.

Probably you think of yourself as a good person.  Passionate and caring even.  It’s an odds-on bet that you have loved and been loved.  At least I hope you have.

So why such hate?  What horrible things have transwomen done to YOU, that you are able to justify such strongly-spoken bigotry?

I have been extremely fortunate myself to have known and worked with a great many absolutely wonderful lesbian identified women.  I was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, popularly known as “Lesbianville USA”.  I write for an independent LGBT newspaper, run by an amazing lesbian couple.  I serve side by side with an inspirational and opinionated group of lesbians on the Board of Directors of Noho Pride as the first transwoman to do so in it’s 30 year history!  I speak out and fight as an activist for LGBQ rights as much as I do for Trans Rights!!

And though I identify as very openly Queer and find myself attracted to folks of all manner of gender presentations, I have been in a long-term relationship with another woman for some years.  I have never identified myself as “lesbian”, but I am often identified as such because of the person I choose to love.  I am honoured to be so identified when that happens.

More broadly, I was raised by and grew up around countless very, very strong women, many of whom counted themselves as feminists.  My Mother and Grandmother were both lifelong feminists, who lived the ideals of feminism in their lives and taught me those ideals as well.

Along with those ideals though, they taught me the value of tolerance and compassion.  They taught me to respect all people and all of nature.  To celebrate the many differences between us as well as our commonalities.

But more than anything, they taught me that no person is inherently better than any other.  We may have our individual strengths and weaknesses and our peculiar quirks and those are good, but they do not make us superior in any fundamental way.

The one thing I was never allowed to say in my Grandmother’s presence was the word “hate”.  I might strongly dislike something, but hate was to be avoided.

So I ask you Bev Jo, to strongly reconsider the ideas you are putting forth into the world.  They may seem well-founded and worthwhile to you, as much or more so now as 30 years ago perhaps.  But please believe me when I tell you, as an Out, Queer, Transwoman living my life with the daily fussilade of slings and arrows that are routinely hurled at me.  Who is regularly and sometimes brutally oppressed for simply trying to be myself, to live life simply as the woman I am.  Please believe me when I tell you that your words have consequences.  Your anger waters the flowers of hatred and bigotry against transpeople.

I’m not even asking you to like us, or completely accept us.  As much as I support your right to speak up about what you believe, I am asking you to consider the violence of your words.  Realize that we transpeople are often denied the basic necessities of life and all too frequently even beaten or killed as a direct result of the justifications you offer.

Instead of tearing our communities apart, we should stand together against our various oppressors.  It is the only way we may all of us redress the systematic imbalances that continue to bedevil not only the LGBT community but Women generally!

Sincerely,

Lorelei Erisis

27
May
09

An Open Letter To California (And All Americans) About Gay Marriage

Lorelei At City Hall

Hellooo California!!!  Are you there!?!?  Because I’ve got some things to say about this whole Gay Marriage issue.

Forgive me while I resort to internet slang but, OMG, WTF!!!!

Where is the liberal bastion of free thinking and human rights that I used to admire?!?!

What happened to the gleaming Camelot of the West Coast that seemed so open-minded and accepting to me when I was desperate to escape the Midwest 8 years ago?!

What kind of topsy-turvy, bizarro world do we live in where Gay Marriage is legalized in Iowa and Maine, but not California?!?!?!!?!

Seriously, you’re going to make me break the “!” and the “?” buttons on my keyboard if you keep this up Cali!!!

Somehow, I fail to grasp the logic of your Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Prop 8 but also allow to stand the 18,000 Gay Marriages that were performed during the minute and a half that all marriages were considered legal and sacred in your state.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to tell Mister Sulu that he can’t be married to the man he loves either.  I’ve seen that guy wield a sword.

But you just can’t say that a certain group does not deserve the same rights as everyone else, except these folks who managed to cash in on our “Short time limited offer!”  If I had known that Equal Marriage Rights were simply an infomercial offer, I would have encouraged my marriage oriented Gay friends to send in their $19.95 +S&H, tout suite!!!  Maybe they could have gotten a Popeil Pocket Fisherman along with their marriage license.  Or a set of Ginsu Knives as a wedding gift from the State of California!!!

I’m not saying I don’t think these folks don’t deserve to be married.  They Do!!!!  I’m just saying that the law shouldn’t be allowed to be seen as a “sometimes, if it’s convenient, or if we mess up it’s okay” kind of thing!!!

I just don’t see how your Supreme Court’s decision makes any logical sense California!

Of course I don’t really understand how we could have fought to assure equal marriage rights for all Californians (I was one of you at that time;  a proud Angeleno!!), on a constitutional basis no less, only to have what was declared to be a Basic Human Right taken away by a so called “popular vote”!!  Huh!?!?  I thought Basic Human Rights, especially ones protected by writ of Constitution, were not open to the whims of “popular opinion”.  Isn’t it the job of the courts to protect the Constitution from things like this?

Please forgive all the quotation marks I’m using here.  I simply don’t believe that Proposition 8 had anything to do with popular opinion at all.  I actually believe, foolish though I may be, that most Californians, most Americans in fact, are pretty open-minded and fair people.  This is a country founded upon virtues of Tolerance and Respect.
It is my well-researched opinion that Proposition 8 is the result of a well-financed and bigoted campaign of hate and intolerance by a relatively small minority.  I won’t name names here.  I’ll just say “But isn’t that wrong Davey?”
But I digress.  Allow me to reign in the sarcasm here and ask you all a question I have asked before.

Shouldn’t all Americans enjoy the same equal rights?  Is there some thing that I’m missing that somehow makes homosexuals fundamentally undeserving of the same privileges that heterosexuals enjoy?

I have never understood the mindset that believes gay people are undermining basic family values whilst at the same time denying them the ability to support those very same values!!!

In the past few months I have heard many arguments for and against the issue of Gay Marriage.  Even from people whose inclination would be to support our brothers and sisters in their fight.  One argument along these lines that I’ve heard a lot of is that Gay People should leave “Marriage” alone as a strictly Christian Sacrament and settle for civil unions.  I disagree.

First and foremost is the fact that our Government treats marriage and civil unions as different entities.  With civil unions being a distinctly lower grade with fewer rights.  I was “Married” once myself and believe me, whether or not the priest performed the ceremony didn’t amount to a hill of beans without the proper government forms and consents. I know when I did it, I had to get permission and approval from the great State of Illinois, as well as pay a fee.  I’m pretty sure that makes it squarely an issue of “The State”.  As in that which is separated from “The Church”.

I was somehow under the impression that one of the things that makes this a great democracy is our separation of church and state.  I believe marriage is a civic issue.  Marriage, although also a religious ceremony, is primarily a civic issue in this country.  And we’re supposed to have a separation of church and state.  So a civic issue, and I believe, a civil right it is.

It’s not so long ago that the same bigots who oppose Gay Marriage were calling interracial marriages unnatural and wrong.  And calling the couples who dared to defy that sentiment perverts.

As for marriage being a Christian sacrament.  Yes it is.  But the idea and the label for it, long predates Christianity.

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention here that I am in fact an Ordained Minister and Student of Theology, among other things.

I’ve done a bit of digging about this, because I wanted to have something intelligent to say to the 500 people I spoke to at a rally in Northampton, MA back in November when Proposition 8 was first passed.  A brief perusal of the history of marriage reveals that our concept of it has changed radically over the last couple thousand years. most noticeably and dramatically in the last century or two.

Arranged Marriages for instance are no longer common in the Western World.  In fact this whole idea of marrying the person we love is really new!  Women are no longer expected to maintain the home and bear a good crop of chilluns’.  Men can no longer summarily dismiss their wives if they feel they have grown tired of her or she is somehow unclean.

And they certainly aren’t allowed to sell their daughters.

Why shouldn’t we allow Gay People to get married?  Doesn’t that support the good moral values that religious nuts are always accusing homosexuals of undermining?

I’ll spare you the specific bible quotes.  But trust me, for every piece of scripture I hear denigrating homosexuals, I could quote you ten other completely ridiculous scriptural laws forbidding all kinds of things that no Christian I know pays any attention to.

For one thing, The Lord is really effing serious about this whole “Not working on The Sabbath” thing.  Violators are supposed to be stoned to death.  By contrast, homosexuals are briefly mentioned as not being allowed to be part of His church.

To take this all a step further, Christ Himself was the one who turned all of that Old Testament nonsense on it’s ear and pretty much said we should all love each other and leave the judging up to Him.  Presumably he was talking about Gay Folks as well as Sabbath Breakers and Menstruating Women.

To conclude, I believe that it is not Gay People trying to make a religious issue into a civil matter.  Nor is it mainstream Christian folks trying to make a civil matter into a religious one.

It’s a few powerful bigots making a mockery of the teachings of Christianity and the Values of Good Americans to support their own closed minded and hateful beliefs.

Please.  If you believe in this country.  If you believe that all people should be allowed to lead lives of dignity and respect.  If you believe that we should judge not, lest we be judged.  If you believe in the ability of humanity to rise above our petty differences and move forward into the new Millennia.  I urge you to support our Brothers and Sisters in California and around the country in their fight for equal rights and the chance to legally Marry the person they Love.
This is not just an issue for Californians, or for the LGBT Community.  It is an issue for all of us.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Slainte Chugat!!!
Reverend Lorelei Erisis

03
Apr
09

A Website Recommendation

I’m sure I don’t know exactly who of my expanding readership will want to set up a profile here, but you fine folks are all people I thought might be interested in knowing about this site.  I try to stay a step or two ahead of the social networking curve and this is the latest site to actively catch my attention.

It’s a social networking site aimed at Women and the Queer Community.

I just set up a profile and thus far it seems pretty user friendly.  Pretty much along the lines of MySpace before it became such a clusterfuck.

Enough customization choices to keep things interesting, but not so many as to swamp the average user.

So drop on by, say hello and lezbe friends (sorry, I couldn’t resist…)!!!!!

http://www.thebeavertracker.com/profile/Erisis

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