I have observed that our society in so many ways parallels the plight of a transgender person…genetically we are one thing in our philosophies, values and foundational principles, but sadly we are another thing in the actual practical expression of those things, the living out of those things. Just as a transperson struggles with who they are in their essence, and what they are as they live.
I think that change is in the wind, and I think there are many things that are converging to nexus and transform to a new paradigm of being and humanity. And media is a part of that process, for it shows people, educates people to those things they would never encounter otherwise.
As my readers, if you have not had the opportunity to (knowingly) be around transgender individuals, then get a start on understanding via media. One show that promises (so far) to give us a poignant and sensitive look is a new Amazon project called Transparent. Below I am posting an interview with the creator. Give it a whirl, and while you are at it, use Netflix to catch Hit & Miss. Among other projects, these are good resources in that they do not trivialize, sensationalize, sexualize or dehumanize transgender individuals.
It is pretty amazing really…when you simply lay aside gender as a “qualifier”, you will quickly find yourself knit together with someone (or repulsed by them) simply on the basis of their character and essence and soul…as it should always be.
May the change come soon!
PS: the blog TransHollywood originated this interview…thanks to them and cudos.
* note. it is a goal of Trans Hollywood to ask trans-specific questions in the industry. This is the first. Given Jill’s answers we will hold on talking to more members of the pilot/Amazon until it is picked up and fleshed out.
Jill Soloway is the writer and director the new Amazon pilot “Transparent” described as ” a psychosexual comedy about a dysfunctional LA family with serious boundary issues.” It was brought to the attention of Trans Hollywood as Jeffrey Tambor plays a transgender person struggling to come out to their three adult age self-absorb children. While the pilot is getting very good reviews we have many questions from a trans perspective. We are very happy to talk to Jill, who also wrote and directed the incredible “Afternoon Delight” which was just made available on DVD and Digital Download
TH: Hi Jill. The first thing we want to know is how Jeffrey Tambor’s character Mort/Maura self identifies. Is this a show featuring a transitioning trans woman?
Jill: If Amazon orders the series, we’ll sketch out the first season in a more detailed way. We’re consulting with some great trans women (Jenny Boylan and Zackary Drucker) to help tell Maura’s story. We’re absolutely heeding the call for accurate media representations of the trans community in media. In addition, beyond the Maura character, if we get picked up, we plan to use trans actors in major roles in multiple storylines.
TH: What inspired you to create a show about a trans woman? Is it based on anything or anyone in your life?
Jill: We all have so many friends and family who are gay, trans and otherwise ‘other’ that it makes a perfect metaphor for all of the ways we evolve as humans. Ultimately, the story we’re telling is about how so many parents, kids, brothers and sisters don’t stay put in a way that makes it convenient for the people in their families. Anxiety, boundaries, memory, inheritance – plus comedy – are some of the themes of this series.
I’m also inspired by the idea that trans storylines teach us about gender equality for all. As a feminist, I see strict gender roles and misogyny and as a close cousin of homophobia / transphobia. I think a lot about the interconnectedness of gender-related oppression. My hope is that in exploring transgender themes, we will illuminate issues that are not only relevant to trans people, but to feminists, queers, women, men, and all people in between.
TH: We have to tell you that we are always critical of a cis man playing a transitioning trans woman instead of using a trans actor. Why was Tambor cast and what do you think he will bring to the role?
Jill: I have great faith in Tambor, and see his approach to the character as rooted in a humanistic, dignified portrayal. He’s such an astonishingly gifted actor and was the person I always had in mind for the role. As I mentioned above, the trajectory of Maura’s trans identity has yet to be fully planned — her journey may not necessarily lead to a medical transition.
TH: What are you reading? Were any books or other research particularly helpful in writing this character?
Jill: I love Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. It’s so exciting to see such an expansive, detailed, feminist, badass perspective laid out so beautifully. We’re also reading Kate Bornstein, Susan Stryker, Jan Morris and Jennifer Finney Boylan, as well as every blog and website out there.
TH: Are there any trans cast or crew on the pilot? We saw transgender people doing background work in the support group scene.
Both the producers and I are looking forward to including transgender people in all departments, both in front of and behind the camera. Transgender people are especially marginalized in the area of employment, and it is Transparent’s intention to create as much opportunity as possible to support the community that it depicts.