Kimberly Reed: Golden Boy Makes Good
BY Brandon Voss
February 26 2010 1:00 PM ET
Oprah, of course, went there with those personal questions. Was it difficult to discuss details of your physical transition on national television?
This film is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it involves me being really open about my story. We’ve been showing this film all over the world for the past year and a half, so I’m used to putting my story out there. I’ve made peace with my past, even if part of it was male. So I wasn’t really breaking new ground on Oprah, but it did feel like I was reaching new people, which was incredible.
When it comes to your particular story, people seem most fascinated with the fact that you identify as a lesbian. Why can’t people wrap their brain around that?
Because people conflate your identity with your sexual preference. A lot of gay people have to sort those two things out — just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love with a man or sleep with a man, and just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love with a woman or sleep with a woman. So if you can accept homosexuality, you should be able to accept that someone would change their gender but still be attracted to the same people.
Whether you like it or not, your film makes you a poster child for the trans community. Are you comfortable being a role model and becoming more involved with trans activism? You’ll no doubt be asked to march in pride parades all over the land.
Yeah, and I will. Call me! I’m ready. I remember when I was first trying to figure all this out. I was in, like, sixth grade, sneaking into the local public library to look at all the horrible ’50s books on “transvestism” — such a horribly outdated clinical term — hiding them behind a magazine so no one would see me reading every single word. There was no Internet, so I felt like I was the only one going through this, and it was so alienating and difficult. I wish I had had role models when I was growing up. So if the film gets exposure and some of that exposure falls on me, I’ve got to do something with that, right? The coolest thing about Oprah is that she uses her influence to empower people and make the world a better place, which I applaud. So whether or not the attention is inordinate, and even if I don’t consider myself the best role model, I do think it’s incumbent on me to step into that position if other people think it’s appropriate.
How do you feel about the current representation of trans people in television and film?
In general, trans issues are lagging behind the portrayal of lesbian and gay characters, but my response to that in our film is to let that issue recede. Just because a person is trans doesn’t mean that’s what the whole film has to be about and the only thing anybody talks about. It’s important to let that become just an aspect of who someone is instead of the entirety of who someone is. That’s not to say that you don’t talk about these issues directly, but there have to be other issues as well.
I’d argue that Chaz Bono has given transgenderism more mainstream visibility than it’s gotten in years.
Absolutely, except for whatever Michael Jackson was doing. I’m really impressed with Chaz. That’s a lot of pressure no matter who you are or how you go through it, so for Chaz to do it in the public eye is incredible, and I really respect that courage. When I transitioned, I couldn’t even do it at the same job — I was an editor of digital films and became an editor of a magazine about digital films — so I basically jumped careers because I wanted to start over with a new group of people. I wish I had been courageous enough to do what Chaz is doing.
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