Boxer Goes Trans for Eli Stone

By Ross von Metzke

Originally published on Advocate.com December 30 2008 12:00 AM ET

Eli Stone may well be a victim of this year’s
lengthy and destructive Writers Guild strike -- along with
shows including Dirty Sexy Money and
Lipstick Jungle, which all have grim futures
after seeing their first seasons cut short following the
strike -- but for boxer-body builder turned actor
Dallas Malloy, the show was a career changer.

Malloy made
history back in 1993 when, at just 16 years old, she filed a
discrimination suit because females were excluded from
amateur boxing. She won in court -- and in the ring --
and enjoyed a long and lucrative career in boxing and
body building.

She later
developed a passion for acting, but despite a brief
appearance as herself in the film Jerry Maguire, gigs
were few and far between -- until now. Cast as a
female-to-male transgender minister who has been fired
from his church and seeks the help of lawyer Eli
Stone, Malloy called this the role of a lifetime. Trans,
male, drag queen -- Malloy has heard it all while
making the audition rounds, so relating to a character
that was “just such a part of me” came easy.

And to think,
given the current climate of television, the episode
(airing Tuesday, December 30, at 10 p.m. Eastern) almost
never saw the light of day.

Advocate.com:How did the gig on Eli Stone come about?Dallas Malloy: It was an audition I went on. My
agent told me about it and said they were having trouble
finding the right person, They wanted someone who
looked very much in the middle gender-wise. So they
wanted me to come in. It was just one of those things
-- and the thing is, from the moment he told me the
description of the character, he totally resonated
with me. I just kind of fall in love [with a
character] instantly; I’d just never had the sort of
response I did with this one.

You just said something very interesting to me --
that they were looking for someone who was “in
the middle” gender-wise. What do you mean
by that?
Well, I’m paraphrasing what my agent
said. But they wanted someone who looked very
androgynous and not specifically male or female. Even though
I’m playing a transsexual male, they wanted someone
who was very much in the middle.

Your history is so rich in the ways you might
relate to this character. Through your history with
boxing, you obviously know what it’s like
to be discriminated against for your sex. How did
that play into how you approached the character?
That’s just such a part of me ... the way
I see it, you go through life, and every experience
helps to shape you. And, in some instances, make or
break you. A lot of it, I think, is subconscious -- I
didn’t have to think about anything
specifically; it’s just a part of me. I’ve
always stood up for what I believe in, and to me,
it’s a nonissue. That just never makes sense to
me, discrimination like that. To me, the character’s
passionate about what he wants -- he wants to help others,
but he has to be true to himself, and he felt he had
to complete this transition in order to be who he was
born to be. In some people’s eyes that’s
controversial. To me, it’s not -- it’s very
simple. He just did what he had to do. It’s the
same with me and boxing. I mean, I’m honored to have
been the one to take that pass -- maybe someone else
wouldn’t have taken it on -- but see, I
can’t even imagine that. I’ve never stopped
when I wanted to pursue something I loved.

 Dallas Malloy x100 (courtesy) | Advocate.com

So, in moving to Los Angeles and pursuing acting,
have you faced down some of that same discrimination
again -- in terms of what your
“type” might be?
Yes, of course I do. On the one hand I could say
every day I face it. A lot of times, though,
it’s not blatant.

What’s something you hear over and over again? Seriously, I can in one day have responses from
people that are completely at the opposite ends of the
scale. There’s people who think I’m the
most beautiful female body builder there is, and then
there’s other people who think I’m just
horrible and hideous. Other people assume I’m
probably a drag queen. None of this offends me -- I just
roll with it because I love being who I am. So I
couldn’t really pinpoint one thing.

Do people ever make the assumption that you’re
not female?
All the time. Probably 75% of the time they
assume I’m not female. And a larger percent of
the time, they’re just not sure -- there’s
always a doubt.

Does that make this character even closer to your
heart, then? Because it sounds like what trans people
face every day is, in a sense, something you face
every day.
That’s very true. I think gender is very
complex. We could talk about it for hours and still
there’s more. I love that -- but it frightens some
people terribly. But I just think, this life is for me.
It’s for living, it’s for experiencing,
it’s for expressing who I am and learning and
growing. Labels are limiting. I use them because I have to
function in this society, but they’re subject
to change. I used to say I see myself as genderless,
but a good friend of mine who knows me pretty well said,
"I don’t see you as genderless -- I see you as
genderful."

So this being your big network TV debut -- with
Eli Stone canceled, was there a concern that
they weren’t going to show your episode?
There was -- it has been such an emotional,
anxiety-provoking time the last couple months.
There’s so many things -- from the moment I heard
about the role, there were so many parallels with me and the
character, even down to things I would have said, to
wording and description. Someone asked if it had been
written for me, which is such a huge compliment. I
felt so at one with it that, yeah, I was very concerned.
For me, my Christmas wish was that I just wanted my show to
air -- and Christmas is my birthday, so I got my wish.