BY Brandon Voss
February 26 2010 12:00 PM ET
course, went there with those personal questions. Was it difficult to
discuss details of your physical transition on national television?
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?
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
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books on “transvestism” — such a horribly outdated clinical term —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.
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.
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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