Posts Tagged ‘sexuality

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!

02
Feb
11

Just Lorelei

Looking back at the latest posts on this here blog, I was noticing that things were getting kind of heavily political.  Which is all well and good, but is not the primary focus of this here Transproviser.  This was always meant to be a blog about a little bit of everything.

Some politics sure, and some music and if I ever get around to it, some of my thoughts on improvisation, especially as it applies to being transgender.

At it’s heart though, this is a personal blog.  A way for me to share a little bit of who I am and what I think with the world.

Today is a snow day for me.  The second in a row in fact.  So I am presented with the rare opportunity to take some of the thoughts that roll around in my head in the wee morning hours and get them down in black and white.  Turn those nagging electrical/chemical impulses into words on the page.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll just jump right into it.

You probably have figured out by now that I’m a transgender woman.  I know you’re surprised, but it’s true.  And when it comes right down to it, I’m really more specifically a transsexual woman.  It’s a little embarrassing to my radical sensibilities, but I really don’t consider myself to be genderqueer or any of those other nifty and boundary pushing identities.  I think of myself as a woman.  Simply and entirely.

I am also trans and proud of it.  It’s a valuable part of who I am and my journey in the world.  I ID as transgender to show solidarity with my brothers, sisters and others who fall all along the gender variant spectrum.  Also because I am not overly fond of the phrase “Pre-op” transsexual.

I consider myself transsexual because I am in the process of medically transitioning to my “true” gender.  I have been on HRT for several years and my body and mind have changed dramatically and wonderfully!  However, I have not yet had any surgeries and frankly don’t know if I ever will.

Certainly there are surgeries I would like to have.  I am aiming at a number of them.  I may eventually even choose to get the full “gender confirmation surgery”.

The main reason I have not gotten any of these surgeries is less radical and more pedestrian than I would like to admit.  I am an artist.  An actor and a writer and explorer of places and ideas.  Consequently I am not terribly wealthy.  These are only profitable professions for a small minority.  The rest of us do it because we have to, we are compelled.  And maybe, hopefully, someday, I will make money doing what I do.  Just not now.

So I work day jobs.  I do what I have to do to pay the rent and keep food on my table and live life as fully as I am able.

I made a choice when I decided to transition that I was going to simply let myself be the woman I had always been.  I would live as myself and take what steps I could to conform my body to that reality.

More though, I refused to wait any longer.  I would not wait for some long off day where I could afford to have all the surgeries and such that we are told are the requirement to be a “real transsexual”, “a true woman”.

I AM a woman.  I AM a transsexual.  Surgical status be damned.

So here I am.  This is why I identify as both transgender and transsexual.  I am NOT pre-op thank you very much.  I am not pre-anything.  I try as best I can to live my life in the moment.  To do and be what I can in the now.

Life for me is a journey in which the present is just as important as the destination.

So I take baby steps and make attainable goals.

And I try to pay attention to the details along the way so I can better share them with you.  Because I feel if I can share my own experience, the broad strokes as well as the little details, I can enrich the body of what is known about us.  De-mystify our trans identity a little so that other folks may realize we are not so very different.  We are people, same as anyone else, with similar loves, hates and everyday troubles and triumphs.

The same dichotomy of identities even.

I am both Lorelei Erisis, the larger than life celebrity who loves to stand on the stage and work the energy of the crowd and Lorelei who has to keep kicking her elderly orange cat off the table and trudge out in the snow to go pay the rent.

Often what you see here is Lorelei the celebrity or Lorelei the politician.

It’s Lorelei the woman that I want to talk about today.

And of course the idea of identities.

HRT has brought for me a tremendous number of changes.  It’s essentially a second puberty so that ought to be unsurprising.  But it still manages to be so.

One of the really radical changes for me has been in my sexuality.

When I was a teenager I assumed I was going to be the “gay one” in my circle of friends.  It was a lot of years before I would accept my repressed gender identity, so I took the dressing up and other side-effects of that repression as well as the fact that I was a pretty snappy dresser and a little overly fond of showtunes to mean I must be gay!

Imagine my surprise when it turned out I was really attracted to women and not so much to men!  As it turned out in fact, the only one in my little geeky-nerdy group of friends who always had a girlfriend and went through almost the entire, fairly small circle of available girls in our clique, was the “gay one”.  If only he could have come out earlier, some of the rest of us might have been able to get a date!

Eventually though I settled into an identity as bi-sexual.  But really it was more that I was particularly open-minded than that I was actually attracted to men.

I never had a lot of trouble meeting women and had a bad habit of falling passionately in love pretty easily and regularly.  Even when I began experimenting with gender pretty openly, I never had a lot of trouble.  Despite my childhood fears that my gender variance would mean I was going to end up alone and unwanted, I found quite the opposite to be true.  Quite a number of the women I dated very much liked the fact that I would do “drag” occasionally.  I even met several of them while out “en-femme” as they say.

Flash forward and I have accepted my gender variance and allowed myself to finally be myself.  Realized that the “drag” I was wearing was not the dresses and makeup, but the suits and ties!

And flooded with hormones a funny thing has happened to me.  I have fairly suddenly and a bit unexpectedly gone from theoretically attracted to men in a “yes I find that to be an attractive man” way, to “holy crap that guy is hot!” teenage-girl boy-crazy!!

Additionally, I have had the wonderful occasion in the work I do to meet a great many beautiful people with all sorts of gender identities.  Some extremely hot ones in fact!!  So I adjusted my sexual identity accordingly to consider myself to be pan-sexual.  I am attracted to people simply because I find them attractive, regardless of gender or any other factors.  And I try not to worry about it.

This has meant that socially and personally I identify as Queer.  It is an identity I am comfortable with and proud to proclaim.

But, this is a journey and so I have come to something of a crisis of identity lately.  Though I continue to identify as Queer and find myself attracted somewhat to women and others.  I find that what I want, what truly gets my heart racing, what gets me all hot and bothered, is men!  And yet, despite  my revolutionary pose, or perhaps because of it, this makes me oddly uncomfortable.  I find myself having to adjust to the idea that despite my Queer & Kinky identities, I am much more of a straight-girl than I am completely comfortable with admitting.

And I haven’t the faintest idea what to do about it.

As an Out, kink friendly transwoman, I have I can assure you, any number of men who would like to do all kinds of unmentionable things with me.  But gods forbid I should be able to find a guy who will take me out to dinner or a movie and maybe if we hit it off, go back to his place and fool around a little on the couch over a nightcap.

I haven’t even the faintest idea where to find a nice, cute guy who might be into me too.  Gay bars aren’t really any good.  Mostly they’re filled with gay boys who just want other really hot gay boys!  There simply aren’t any “tranny bars” close enough to justify a night out.  And straight bars are a tease.  I find most guys I might meet there are simply too afraid to approach a 6’4” Out transwoman in public.  Even a damned pageant queen!!  And the ones who are into me are too afraid to admit to it publically.  They’ll fuck me, but they won’t be seen with me.  Fun as that is, I just can’t get into that.

Just Lorelei

Don’t get me wrong, I love hot, dirty sex as much as the next girl.  Heck, given that I spent 5 years in a long-term relationship with a famous and notoriously dirty dominatrix, I’ve had experiences and done things that most people will only ever read or fantasize about.

But I’d really like a little vanilla-ish romance now!  I want it so badly it hurts.  I’d like to let go of being Lorelei Erisis, trans-activist for a few minutes and just fall into the arms of a beautiful, strong man.  Ideally one who is tall enough to not be dwarfed by me.  Who can see me as simply the beautiful woman I am.  Whose self-identity is strong enough to be seen with me.

I have no idea where to find him.  He’s not popped up on any of the dating sites I’ve put profiles on and if I’ve met him in real life, he hasn’t had the cojones to speak up yet.

I hope I meet him soon though because I’m ready and anxious to explore what it means to be a straight girl.  Even if it is an Out, Queer, Trans one.




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