BY Brandon Voss
February 26 2010 12:00 PM ET
You speak in the film about how the majority of trans people don’t
acknowledge their pre-transition lives, even going so far as to burn
childhood photos in some cases. So it’s safe to say that there are very
few trans people who would not only attend their high school reunion but
also make a documentary about reconciling with that past. So,
pardon the word choice, but that was pretty ballsy of you, right?
Yeah. And I think part of the audacity to do that involves erasing the
issue of me being trans and speaking to human issues that we all have.
We all have a history, and we all grow, change, and then have to figure
out how to fit back into our families, which causes an enormous amount
of tension. On one hand, our film is very specific and unique with a lot
of crazy stuff going on — my story and my brother’s story is not
typical — but we’ve been taking the film to festivals all over the
world, and it’s really cool to see audiences of different cultures and
religions connect with a message that isn’t lost on those specifics.
There’s a much bigger, more universal story about family.
because that sort of self-reflection isn’t typical trans behavior, have
you gotten any negative feedback from the trans community?
honestly say — and I’m knocking on wood here — there has been a flood of
e-mail and Facebook messages, and I haven’t gotten a single negative
comment. I forward the messages to my mom because they’ve all been so
great. A lot of people tell me about how they couldn’t talk to their
parents about being trans, but then they watched the film together and
now they can talk about it. Somebody even said to me, “You just made
life easier to live.” I mean, how can you beat that?
Addams, a trans entertainer, has a popular YouTube video called “Bad
Questions to Ask a Transsexual,” which details the many taboo topics to
avoid when speaking to a trans person. Are there things that one should
just never ask you, or do you welcome natural curiosity about your
Both. Curiosity is good, but there are certain things you
wouldn’t ask any other stranger you bumped into on the street, so I do
draw lines. In general, people put too much emphasis on the surgery —
and there are probably multiple surgeries, and it’s not all about the
genitals. That’s private. It is odd to have a complete stranger come up
and initiate a conversation about your genitals. That’s an awkward
position to be in.
You could have used your film as an
opportunity to answer a lot of questions people have on the actual
transition process, but you skipped over those details.
It was a
conscious decision to not get bogged down in that. There are films that
do that very well, but there aren’t a lot of films that talk about the
post-transition experience, especially a decade later. But that sense of
renewal, change, and reinvention is something anyone can relate to on
some level. You don’t have to change your sex to reinvent yourself. Some
people do it with a haircut or a new pair of socks.
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