Alexandra Billings — a star of Transparent and a professor at California State University, Long Beach — discovered a hateful scrawl in the women's restroom of her workplace last Thursday: "A tranny teaches here."
Billings informed the chair of the theater arts department. A day later, more graffiti appeared: heart-shaped Post-it notes that covered the walls of the restrooms, halls, dressing rooms, and office doors throughout the four-story building.
Outside, encircling the facility on the sidewalk, students had written messages in chalk: "Be kind." "Find the stranger next to you and do better for him." "Humans teach here, humans love here, humans live here."
The transgender actress recounted this story Sunday at a '90s-themed holiday cabaret organized by the IAMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles, in an introduction to her mashup of Radiohead's "Creep" and Cabaret's "I Don't Care Much." Billings did so in order to illustrate that even in dark and uncertain times, when hate crimes against vulnerable communities have spiked, there is hope.
“I believe that we have great hope, because I teach this generation," Billings told the audience at the Rockwell Table and Stage, adding, "They understand like no other generation before what peaceful revolution is like.”
Billings was one of several performers who had gathered at the IAMA benefit. Hosted by Matthew Hoffman, the event featured a star-studded lineup that included Joey McIntyre (New Kids on the Block), Maya Smith (The Voice), Beth Behrs (2 Broke Girls), Parvesh Cheena (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos), Stefanie Black (Casual), Deborah S. Craig (Transparent), and Graham Sibley (Grey's Anatomy). These performers as well as the crowd cheered and rose to give Billings a standing ovation during several parts of her speech and performance.
Before singing, however, Billings made a point to remind transgender young people, who since the election of Donald Trump as president have been reaching out in record numbers to suicide hotlines, just "how important they are."
"We are loved divinely, beautifully, brilliantly, and gloriously," she proclaimed. "But the only way that can blossom is if we take care of each other."
"So I sing this song tonight for those who have left and, more importantly, for those of us who remain."
Listen to Billings's moving speech and song below.
Video courtesy of Deborah S. Craig.