After reading the numerous comments, I realized that yesterday’s post cut deep and that was not my intention. The analogy of “childish” and “whiny” was not appropriate and the message was completely lost. For that I apologize with a grieved heart.
I was siding with trans woman Calpernia Addams in my stance; however, my tone was abrasive. I could have worded it all in a different fashion, in a way that would not be misinterpreted as being disrespectful.
I was dismayed at what many of you believe was the message and my belief system from my post. I have countless friends who are trans women and I have been an advocate for this community since 2007…seven years ago. To say that I’m a transmisogynist couldn’t be farther from the truth. I sincerely apologize if that is how my words came across.
I grew up acting and have been in several films as an extra or stand in. I am familiar with that industry and very familiar with acting in general. Some of you are very upset at the character of Rayon and the representation of trans women in Jared Leto’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
Try to please consider another perspective for just a moment, whether you agree or not. Rayon is nothing more than a character. Yet, I know as a community whole, we are much farther back than we want to be in this fight, and we truly are wanting a positive refection of who we are as we move forward.
I remember being upset at the movie Monster and how the main lesbian character was portrayed. Yet, I realized, it is one movie. I had to shake off the thought process that society was going to think all lesbians were serial killing psychopaths. I had to remind myself that Charlize Theron did her best to play that role, even though she is a straight female, and many other lesbian-actresses should have been given that opportunity. So, yes, I can reflect back and see how a trans woman could feel about Rayon in DBC. I am thankful for the many movies before and after that portrayed lesbians in a positive light.
In one comment, I was told I must have been too young to remember the same backlash with the movie Boys Don’t Cry. Ironically, I was 20 years old when that came out and instead of viewing the character of Brandon Teena in any negative light, it actually helped me see someone in a film that was transgender and felt the same way I did. Until that time, I didn’t even know that was possible for a female to transition to a male which could be stemmed from my humble beginning in the southern state of Alabama. If that movie had not been made, I would have been clueless for around 5 more years.
The role of Rayon was originally written as a transvestite. Perhaps, Leto should have kept it as such instead of trying to embrace Rayon as a trans woman. I’ve heard both sides from trans women that Leto either pulled it off and did great or was just a man in a dress.
It appears one of the arguments I heard the most was that a trans woman should have played that role, not a cis-male. Yet, I also heard that the character itself was flawed and a poor representation for trans women.
As a trans male, I started to dig deep. I can see the sensitivity concerning the mountain we are climbing and roles like Leto’s seemingly taking us leaps backwards in society’s view of trans women. I’m thinking maybe that is what should have been truly voiced as the backlash. That is a very valid point to speak out about.
The one part that truly upset me and sparked yesterday’s post, was the portion in the article about his failure to thank the trans community in his acceptance speech. Sure, that would have been very nice. My point was that I personally felt that one part of the backlash was petty. That was the part that made it appear we were just searching for everything we could possibly find that was negative. From my experience, when you focus on the main, valid points, you have a louder voice. When you add in the extras, so to speak, the main message can get drowned out. (please keep reading)
I love this community and want it to be best represented. My career is in Marketing and Public Relations so I spend every day learning what “works” and what doesn’t. My post yesterday didn’t work. My rooted message that got lost was an idea of something that I believe could work. I have faith that if we raise our voices on issues that educate others and open their eyes to our valid concerns, we will move forward.
You think a trans woman should have played the role of Rayon? You think the character of Rayon portrayed trans women in a negative light? That is valid. But, how is it best to respond? I don’t think attacking Jared Leto is the answer. The guy was hired to play that role and he did the best he could do. Get upset with the casting director. Not the actor. Get upset with the screenplay writer. Not the actor. You can’t get mad at the waitress serving you the food the chef cooked in the back of the kitchen. She is just doing her job, presenting the food the best she knows how to, but remember she isn’t the creator. Instead of backlashing the actor, I would suggest focusing on educating everyone that the character of Rayon was a poor representation of trans women and perhaps the part should have been re-written a bit differently when they decided to change Rayon from a transvestite to a transgender female, noting there is a definite difference between the two. This could have been a great platform to actually define the terminology under the transgender umbrella.
It is a belief, that was voiced, that trans woman are not receiving acting roles in Hollywood.
I’d like to share with you 21 transgender celebrities (20 are trans women) to show that we are working our way up the ladder of fame (and this is just the beginning):
1. Nina Poon – first transgender female to model in full page ads featured in Vanity Fair, Vogue, New York Times, and Marie Claire. Also was part of the show TRANSform Me.
2. Isis King – first transgender model to compete on the 11th cycle of America’s Next Top Model and she later appeared on the all-star edition as well.
3. Alexis Arquette – actress and musician, she has been a prominent transgender activist in Hollywood for years.
4. Chaz Bono – trans man who is now working as an actor in “Dirty” after finishing up a role on a theatrical stage in Los Angeles last December. He also appeared on Dancing With The Stars and his own documentary Becoming Chaz was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
5. Carmen Carrera – you first saw her on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She has since openly transitioned, is a model, and is working her way to being a Victoria Secret angel.
6. Lana Wachowski – one of the famous siblings became the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender in July 2012.
7. Lea T – Brazilian model who became a household name after Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci hired her as his fit model-personal assistant. He then used her in his 2010 ad campaign. She has since been featured in Vogue Paris and Interview.
8. Janet Mock – People.com editor who openly came out as transgender.
9. Amanda Lepore – NYC entertainer is one of the world’s biggest trans icons and is the muse of David LaChappelle.
10. Marci Bowers, M.D. – a pioneering surgeon who was the first trans woman to perform transgender transitional surgeries. She also performed Isis King’s surgery.
11. Candis Cayne – become the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time TV when she landed a role on Dirty Sexy Money. Candis has also appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Nip/Tuck and Necessary Roughness.
12. Jenna Talackova – originally booted from the Miss Universe Canadian pageant, but fought back and regained her spot in the competition and worldwide fame.
13. Laverne Cox – she entered the public spotlight when she competed on Vh1′s / Wanna Work For Diddy, making her the first African-American transgender woman to be on a mainstream reality TV series. She then went on to the show TRANSform Me and now is on the hit TV series, Orange Is The New Black.
14. Jamie Clayton – transgender makeup artist who was on the TV show TRANSform Me.
15. Harmony Santana – transgender actress was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her performance in Gun Hill Road.
16. Stephanie Michelini – transgender actress who was cast in the film Wild Side. The film won the Teddy at the Berlinale and a clutch of other festival awards, including a Best Acress trophy for Michelini.
17. Alexandra Billings – first transgender actress to appear in a transgender role on American TV with roles on E.R. and Grey’s Anatomy among her credits.
18. Elizabeth Coffey – she played a transgender role in the iconic Pink Flamingoes and returned two years later to play a non-trans role for John Waters in 1974′s Female Trouble.
19. Calpernia Addams – after meeting Jane Fonda at Sundance, they together conceived the idea for an all-transgender production of The Vagina Monologues. Addams was later invited to perform in the 10th anniversary edition of the play alongside Fonda, Glenn Close and Salma Hayek. Addams was also Jared Leto’s advisor for his role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club.
20. Eva Robins – does consider herself more androgynous rather than transgender, yet she claimed her fame in Dario Argento’s horror film Tenebrae.
21. Bibi Anderson – transgender actress holds four credits in Almodovar feature films (not an easy task for any actress) in the late eighties and early nineties.
…the list goes on. I hope that will give you some hope that indeed we are marching forward.
Again, I apologize for my harsh tone yesterday and ask that you receive this post with a new understanding of where I was coming from. We can never all agree, and we shouldn’t, or else this would be a very boring world. Yet, we can say things in a loving way and I realize I failed to do so in that post.
For the few of you that left TQ Nation, I hope you return. Everyone is important and not just a number. That site has held strong in the community for 7 years. We all make mistakes. We have all worded things incorrectly. The best ending to the story is to forgive.
I have heard your responses and I hope you have received mine in a positive light.
I appreciate your time today in reading this.