Jen Richards is a writer and actress who is the co-writer/star/producer of Her Story, a show about the dating lives of two transgender women, and was a series regular on I Am Cait. She is also a consultant & advocate focusing on gender and social justice. She was previously the Co-Founder and Director of The Trans 100, creator of the websites We Happy Trans, WTF Trans Dating, and Trans Love Stories, and co-hosted Sugar & Spice, an advice and news podcast with Bailey Jay. She was also the Managing Director of the multiple Grammy Award-winning music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and served as President of New Music Chicago. Jen received her BA in Philosophy from Shimer College, studied at Oxford University and in Kyoto, Japan, and has published articles, lectured, and led workshops on a variety of topics across the country.
Hello Jen, and thank you so much for doing this interview!
It’s my pleasure! The role of adult performers has been huge in my life, and I’m always excited to have some overlap between the worlds of advocacy and sex workers. Thanks for including me!
Her Story is six episode series that debuted in September 2015 about the dating lives of two transgender women in Los Angeles and stars trans writer and actor Jen Richards, trans entrepreneur and actor Angelica Ross, and writer/actor Laura Zak. Richards and Zak also co-wrote the script. What makes this show so significant is that it was created by trans and queer people, who also play the characters. The quality of the series is a testament to how important it is for trans people to be able to tell their own story instead of having cisgender people tell it for us.
Her Story is in the running for an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Short Form Drama. What would it mean to you if the show got a nomination, and what can people do to support the show so it does get nominated?
We got the nomination!! I keep saying that my life is being lived in all caps these days. That’s what it feels like. Every day someone else hears the news and I get a text or email in all caps “OH MY GOD CONGRATULATIONS!”
So many people have said that our nomination feels like a win for them. That really touches me, and speaks to the level of investment we’ve had across the board. As the only independent show in our category, the only LGBTQ project, much less the only one created by trans people, it’s a recognition of what “the rest of us” are capable of.
Can we look forward to a second season of Her Story, and has there been interest in the show getting picked up by a network?
There won’t be a 2nd season per se. Rather, Laura Zak & I have a detailed treatment for a full version of S1, 10 30-minute episodes, at least. What we shot is really just the start of a bigger story, one with a larger cast and some very intense, never before seen storylines. Given that we have a story ready to go, a great team, and proof that there’s an audience ready for it, our hope is that with the Emmy nomination, and hopefully a win, we’ll have a few networks and media platforms vying for the rights. We’re just now starting to take meetings about it.
As one of the co-writers for Her Story, how much of the show, and in particular your character Violet, is based on your personal experiences?
Almost everything in Her Story is taken from mine or Angelica Ross’ life, or the experiences of our friends and wider network of trans people. I think that’s why it resonates so much. Whenever we do screenings, I watch the trans women in the audience for their reactions, and every time I see them nodding and snapping. As you know Becca, nothing in Her Story is that extraordinary or unusual for girls like us. Except maybe James! That aren’t many men like him. He is loosely modeled on a wonderful man I know, who married a trans woman, but it’s also partly aspirational. I created the man Angelica/Paige deserves.
How does it feel to know you helped create a show which has had such a positive impact on trans people and hopefully empowers them to believe in themselves and gives them the courage to keep moving forward?
It’s hard to process, but in the rare moments when it does sink in, it’s oddly humbling. I feel part of something bigger than me, and blessed to be one of the channels this story is working through. I really love the idea that it can directly empower trans people. I owe so much to the women who helped me when I first came out, and carried me through dark times. And I look to people like Bamby Salcedo and Cecilia Chung and Miss Major and realize how much more I can do, how much I owe to my community.
Sex work seems to be an issue which is important you, and was one of the storylines in Her Story. Is this because trans women are over-represented in sex work, or is it more personal than that?
Both. When I was first starting to transition, the only trans women I knew of were adult performers. That’s who I looked to because they were the most visible. I saw strength in many of them. And then the first trans person to take an interest in me, to push me to do something, was Jasmine Jewels, a trans sex worker in Chicago. I don’t know how or why, but she had noticed me on Twitter and would engage me. One day I was complaining about the lack of positive trans representation, this would have been about five years ago, and she said, “Are you going to complain, or do something about it?” She scared me into action! I launched We Happy Trans within a couple of weeks, which started me down this path. So in everything I did along the way, I tried to include sex workers and their perspectives. Most trans women I know have done sex work at some point in their life, whether it’s escorting or porn or cam work. It’s part of our community’s story, and I’m interested in both the why’s of that, and the consequences, but mostly just the human face of it all. And of course my BBF is a porn star, Bailey Jay, so it’s just a part of my life. As far as my own story and experiences, at this point in my life I still prefer to maintain some privacy.
As you know, violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. There are organizations like Trans Lifeline which provides vital resources for trans people in times of crisis. What can we as a community, and more importantly, what can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?
It’s hopelessness, right? Suicide is born out of a belief that ending life is preferable to continuing it, which means there is a lack of hope. Part of the reason the suicide rates for trans people have been so high is because of how little hope has been offered to trans people. However, as I discovered only after transition, it wasn’t that there weren’t trans people leading rich, full lives, it’s that they weren’t visible. The media didn’t have any interest in them, and many are read as cis in public, so they’re basically invisible. And while I don’t begrudge anyone else their privacy, or a decision to live stealth, that lack of visibility has consequences for others. And not just aborting those opportunities to give hope, but also of material resources, mentorship, networking, advocacy, etc. If you choose to be out and visible, then you’re more likely to give back, to help, even if it just means being someone who others can look to on social media, or in your neighborhood. When we move through the world, we’re often very conscious of all the eyes on us. I certainly am at least. But what I don’t know is when those eyes might belong to someone who is just beginning to realize their gender. Maybe you’re the first trans person they ever see, really see, and that becomes a seed. I’m rambling aren’t I? My point is that one thing we can each do is live out loud and proud. That act alone may save a life. And of course if you can do more, do! Give to trans organizations and projects, ask your employer to have trans inclusive health care options, vote for non-discrimation legislation, speak out again all forms of bigotry, hire trans people, buy their art, defend someone being harassed in public, and don’t allow anyone around you to mock trans people.
When you came to Los Angeles you had neither a job nor a car, and lived out of suitcases and off the charity of friends. What was it that brought you to LA and did you have a plan as to what you wanted to do and how to accomplish it?
None of that’s changed yet! I’m very lucky to have so much support here in LA. It’s the only way I’ve been able to continue writing and acting. I came out to shoot Her Story, as well as pre- and post-production. Then then I did a few videos for BuzzFeed, was cast on I Am Cait, got a great agent…one thing after another kept me here. Eventually I went back to Chicago, threw everything in storage, and came right back out. I miss my stuff! But I’m happy to stay focused on my work. As far as a plan, I’m not sure that I had one at first, but over time I’ve developed a pretty clear vision of the road ahead. Basically, keep writing and acting and producing until something takes off and I can then make a lot of money writing and acting and producing. I know now this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my too few days on this planet. I don’t have enough time left to get out everything that it’s in my head now, and new ideas are barging in every day.
You initially declined when you were first contacted about appearing on I am Cait. Aside from logistical issues of living in Chicago, what led you to turn down the invitation?
It was such a media frenzy. It was a circus really, and I have no interest in spectacle. I had never seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, so I didn’t know the world I was walking into. I also hadn’t met Cait yet and the truth is that I’m terrible at hiding my dislike of other people. I can’t do small talk or kiss ass, so I was afraid that if I went on camera and didn’t get along with her, it’d show and I’d be the villain. And of course, I knew I’d have zero control over editing or how they framed our stories. That’s a lot of faith to put into the hands of strangers, particularly ones are working for a for-profit entertainment company. But then Cait and I talked on the phone and I genuinely liked her. Despite everything she’s said, I still have a soft spot for her, as I do for most trans people. At first it was just one evening. I changed my mind right beforehand, but my friend Zackary Drucker was going and she said, “Girl, it’s just dinner.” I went and had a blast. It was just a lot of fun. Then they asked if I would go on a road trip, which also sounded fun. One thing led to another. It all happened very organically, and when you’re just hanging out with friends, you forget about the cameras, and it’s inconceivable to you in the moment that what feels like a private conversation may later be seen by millions of people.
What was it like for you being part of the show and getting the opportunity to know Caitlyn Jenner and work with people like Jennifer Finney Boylan, Candis Cayne, and Kate Bornstein?
Fun! Lots of fun. I had known Jenny (Boylan) and Zackary for years, and hung out a bit with Drian (Juarez), but was meeting Candis and Chandi (Moore) for the first time. I was more nervous about meeting Candis than anything else! She’s one of the few people in our world that seems loved by everyone, and I had been so in awe of her on Dirty Sexy Money. She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, just good to her core. You can’t help but love Candis. Same with Chandi, she’s just a ball of light and love. You immediately feel like you’ve known her for year. In addition to the cast, the crew was great. I really adored them all, and there were a couple more trans people behind the scenes.
Kate (Bornstein) is my trans mama, so I introduced her to Cait. That was one of my favorite moments of the entire experience. Kate was in LA for an event at Trans Pride. After she spoke I puller her aside and said, “I need you to come with me, right now.” Cait was staying over at Candis’ that night, so I brought Kate over. I’ll never forget watching these two women talk, both 65 year old white trans women, each celebrities in their own ways, but on opposite sides of so many issues. Cait was all about blending in, respectability politics, being palatable. Kate was about embracing being a freak. The show caught the moment well, but of course the few minutes they show is from an a few hours of talk. It was special.
I think we all agree that the attention Caitlyn Jenner gets from the media has played a huge role in helping to bring trans issues to the forefront of mainstream society, but she has also been a controversial figure within the trans community Having had the chance to get to know her, why do you think she has become such a polarizing figure within her own community?
There’s nothing innately progressive or conservative about being LGBT. Nonetheless, the marginalization that comes with it is often enough to make people aware of the need for legal protections, social services, etc., and traditionally liberals have been more supportive of those endeavors, and more welcoming to us. Contrariwise, conservatives, particularly in the culture wars, have used opposition to LGBT rights as a way to stoke their other-fearing, white cis heterosexual base. Long story short, there’s an assumption that LGBT folks would vote Democrat, and Caitlyn is a staunch Republican. Which really should come as no surprise. For all intents and purposes, she was a rich straight white man for several decades before coming out as trans. Her political beliefs were forged long before she personally had any sense of the marginalization that is so definitive for many of us, and her wealth protects her from it now. So it makes perfect sense to me that she’d support Ted Cruz and Donald Trump despite their opposition to … well, LGBT protections, Blacks Lives Matter, women’s rights, immigration reform…the list goes on. To her, it’s a matter of principles, like small government and lower taxes. But the reason she is so polarizing is that it then looks like she values her own wealth more than she does the health and safety of other LGBT people. I do take that personally. She and I have had some intense arguments over these issues. But I come from a traditional conservative southern family, so I’m quite accustomed to these arguments.
The entertainment industry is known to be fairly conservative, so how do you balance the needs of wanting to be involved in social advocacy for your community versus trying to conform to what the industry wants?
I can’t really think too much about either side of that. My fidelity is to story. I have write honestly and authentically. Off the page, I’m personally deeply influenced by intersectional social justice work and ideas, so those attitudes do find their way into my characters, my choice of themes and character arcs. It’s inseparable. As far as the industry is concerned, I’m led to believe they want compelling content and original voices. We’ll see if that’s true!
Can you talk about what inspired you to create the Trans 100 and what you hoped to accomplish with it?
I’ve told the story of its origins enough times, so I’ll skip that if you don’t mind. The intention of The Trans 100 was to give a glimpse into just how big, dynamic, diverse, creative, and giving the trans community was. The idea was that shining a spotlight on 100 different people each year, we’d shift the perception of trans people as these hidden, isolated tragic figures. And it worked! It became a resource used by the White House, led to a few job offers for people on the list, and generated a ton of positive media at a time when that was incredibly rare. More importantly, it was part of a larger shift in the tone of the trans community. Admittedly that’s a bit of a amorphous assertion to prove, but I felt it and I know many others too. Each year we would gather to announce the names at a live event which included keynote speeches and live performances, all by trans people. To be in that room filled with so many trans people, to celebrate each other, was transformative. I’m very, very proud of the impact The Trans 100 had, and I hope that in time its legacy becomes clearer.
What led you to step away from the project?
Health mostly. I was working full-time running a nonprofit arts organization while also doing We Happy Trans and The Trans 100. I wasn’t sleeping much and kept collapsing from exhaustion. I ended up in the hospital a couple of times, and the doctors warned me that I was doing serious damage to my body. Also, working with the trans community, or communities really, was … difficult. We’re all traumatized and often that comes out abusive ways. I grew very weary of the infighting and personal attacks. I was also upset that no matter how many times we said that it wasn’t a “top 100”, it was still treated as such. People’s feelings were hurt when they weren’t on the list, some people lobbied to get on it. It just got ugly, and contrary to the original spirit. I was even sued by someone who claimed I had stolen it (not only was the case dismissed, the lawyers for the other side apologized to me). There was once a claim that one of our honorees was a rapist, and I had to investigate it, something I was in no position to do properly. It all just kind of broke me, and I don’t think I’ll ever work with large groups like that ever again. Still, the public face of it was beautiful, and I am proud to have been part of it.
In your interview with TransEthics last year you made the comment “98% of all the hate I’ve received over the years has been from other trans people, and in response to the work that I was doing, all of which was designed to lift others up, and for which I’ve never received a dime. Knowing that no matter what you’ll do, your own community will try to bring you down, wears you out.” What is it about our community that seems to bring out so much divisiveness and hate among our own people, especially towards those who are trying to accomplishment something positive?
I think it’s gotten better in the last year. Or maybe I’ve just become such a recluse I don’t encounter it as much! No, I do think it’s better, and I think it’s because there’s less pressure on the few of us who are in visible in the media to represent everyone. That was part of the issue before, before Caitlyn, before Laverne got so famous, there was just so little out there. So many of us felt isolated, alone, either invisible or under attack. We rabidly seized upon any representation we could find and always found it lacking. Bear in mind too that for a long time, the only sympathetic trans narratives we did get were very narrow, typically older, late transitioning, white, lesbian women. People who were straight white men. That’s a very narrow perspective, and frankly not one that has a long history of community building. Now we have several people to look to, and many of our most visible are black trans women with a deeply intersectional perspective and commitment to social justice. That’s a huge shift. And there’s a real national conversation. The left has finally become explicit about trans rights, and with all the media, the public’s understanding of trans issues has seriously advanced. While we still have far, far to go, in many concrete ways, it’s better today for trans people that it was five years ago.
You spent over five years as the Managing Director of the classical music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and also served as President of New Music Chicago. Can you talk about the role music plays in your life?
Music has been my sanctuary for as long as I can remember. My mind is a bit overactive, and is louder than my body or feelings, but great music commands my whole self, my full attention. At its best, it is a merger of intellect and aesthetics and something that transcends both. It’s also been one of the few forces in my life that I can’t easily rationalize away. It’s superfluous, its not necessary for our survival or propagation as a special. As best we can tell, it’s the result of excess, whether of joy or sadness or lust or time and money. Its changing form carry with it the history of human consciousness and how value manifests in different ways according to time and place. It’s the “yes” that alone serves as an answer to the question of why anything exists at all. This is all true of any form of art really, but music had been the steadiest companion for me. It was an honor to work for eighth blackbird for those years. They were some of the finest musicians in the world, and the finest people.
Sugar & Spice is an advice and news podcast you co-hosted with Bailey Jay. Can you tell us about your friendship with Bailey, who you have described as the one person who loves you unconditionally?
You really dug deep for my quotes! Bailey had asked me to appear on her earlier podcast. We hit it off and she asked me back the following week. Then she decided to launch a new podcast with me, which was Sugar & Spice. We only did a few episodes, but I’m shocked at how often people mention it to me. It was always just her and I rambling about whatever came to mind for nearly two hours, but people liked it for some reason. We have very different backgrounds, and would seem like odd bedfellows, but we just hit it off. She is one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, has an incredibly sharp mind (she’s one of the best examples of someone who lacks education but is smarter than many people who do), seems almost immune to the kind of ideological myopia that afflicts most of us, myself included, and most importantly, has one of the biggest and kindest hearts I’ve encountered. She’s a rare and special person. I tend to isolate myself from others, but Bailey just put herself squarely in my life. I talk to her more than anyone else. We often talk about ending up quirky old crones together, rambling around in a big old house like the aunts in Practical Magic, cackling perversely and causing trouble.
We’re similar in that we both chose writing as the means of coming out to the people we care about. Has your family been supportive of you?
I’m closer with my family now than I’ve ever been. It was a journey to get here, a hard one, but ultimately worth it. My mom had to grieve the loss of her son, which I can understand now. But at the time, I was sensitive to any discomfort around me. I couldn’t tolerate anything less than explicit unconditional acceptance in those early days. How could I? Every day was a gauntlet of harassment and threats. The only way I could go about my day was to fake confidence. I couldn’t allow anything to threaten that confidence, because it would have threatened my safety. In time I eased into myself. After all these years, and because I’m often read as a pretty white cis woman, I have the luxury of my transness being secondary, or being able to take pride in being trans because it’s less and less weaponized against me. That takes a lot of pressure off relationships.
You’ve written that like most trans people, you were afraid of what transitioning would end up costing you. Has the cost been more or less than what you expected?
Far, far less. At the time I was first considering transition, the narrative online was that transition meant a total loss of the life you knew. If you were lucky and you “passed”, you’d have to start a new life stealth and eliminate all trace of who you were, start over in a new place with a new name. Or if you didn’t “pass”, which I didn’t expect to ever do since I started in middle age, you’d always be a pathetic “man in a dress”. Instead, I was met with a great deal of support and encouragement. I did lose some friends, but for the most part my relationships were deepened. People noted that I was happier, nicer, more present. I was also lucky in that my work was very supportive, which made a big difference. And of course my involvement in trans projects led to the many great friendships and opportunities that now define my life.
Did that have any bearing on why you didn’t transition until the age of 36?
No, not really. It certainly upped the stakes of transition, but my hesitation was that I didn’t think I was trans. Again, there were very few narrative available, and I didn’t seem to fit them. I went to a therapist and told her I wanted to know if I was trans so that I could just get on with it if I was. She assured me I wasn’t. At the time, a common diagnosis was “self-loathing homosexual”. The idea was that people like me were gay men who didn’t want to be gay, so we wanted to become women instead. It’s so laughably absurd now, but I assumed she was right. It turned out though that I wasn’t self-loathing in that particular way. In fact, I was quite comfortably bisexual. Then she reasoned it was childhood trauma, but I worked through that and it still didn’t go away. Then she theorized that because I was so relentlessly driven in my regular life that I had created an alternative persona where I could relax and just have fun, a feminine one. Again I went with it at the time, though the misogyny of that is so clear to me now, but still my desires wouldn’t go away. So I really, really tried not to be trans. I eventually decided to start hormone replacement therapy to prove to myself that I wasn’t trans. I often have to take things too far in order to know what’s enough. But lo and behold, after just a couple of weeks I suddenly felt right for the first time in my life. It was crushing in the moment, but I accepted that I really was trans. All of this is part of the reason why I say there is no wrong way to be trans, and why all my work has been to expand our view of what being trans means. I don’t want anyone to lose so many years like I did. I’ve come to terms with my own path, the skills and perspectives I gained as someone treated by the world as a middle-class straight white man have allowed me to do all the work I do today, so I trust it was all part of my destiny.
What was life like growing up in the south where people are generally very conservative and unaccepting of the LGBT community?
My family was southern, but I mostly grew up in Chicago. The attitude towards gay people in the south, at least in my family, was very much “don’t ask, don’t tell”. You just didn’t talk about it. It was less an attitude of condemnation and more one of willful ignorance. For me the harder part was the clear delineation of men and women and their roles. At family events, men were in the living room watching the game, and the women were in the kitchen cooking and talking. I naturally gravitated to the women in my family, who were all bright and funny and strong, and all great storytellers. I didn’t care for sports, but I loved the company of the women in my family. But I also don’t remember being explicitly policed for that either. I was just always the weird one, which gave me a lot of latitude in many areas.
You’ve stated that you were a very masculine guy prior to transitioning. Looking back, do you see this as a conscious attempt to deny your feminine side, or was it something which you weren’t aware of at the time?
It was very much a conscious attempt. I learned early to hide femininity. Again, it wasn’t because of direct efforts by my family, at least not that I remember, but more just a learned sense that men were supposed be masculine. I was a pretty typical boy as far as I recall. I had other boy friends and I happily played with action figures and guns. I excelled in sports, and I liked girls. It wasn’t until high school that I remember real agony over gender, efforts to monitor the way I talked or walked, what music or movies I liked. That’s also when I first began kissing boys and doing theater, so I just thought I was gay, despite liking girls too. I didn’t have language for it. All I had were those inchoate feelings, a desire to be feminine and a profound sense of shame wrapped up in it. If I had known about trans people then, I probably would have identified as such. Still, being “weird” gave me a lot of room to play with sex and gender. Artists have always had much more freedom in that way. I have to be honest, looking back I can’t really construct an adequately consistent narrative. Even as I write this, I’m having other memories that counter some of these statements. Ultimately all I really know is that I feel much more at ease as a woman than I ever did as a man or boy. Anything beyond that is going to be, at least in part, an effort of imagination.
Like many trans people you’ve experienced feeling guilt, shame, and self-doubt about being transgender. Have those feelings eased up since you transitioned, and how do you deal with them?
I was talking with Bailey about this the other day. I notice that I occasionally have these moments where the whole idea of being trans strikes me as so utterly bizarre and nonsensical, like a familiar word that suddenly becomes weird in your mouth. The idea that we could change from one gender to another is laughably preposterous, this flimsy construction only possible with some serious convoluted rhetorical engineering and destined to collapse. But the interesting part is that in those moments, my disbelief isn’t that I’ve become a woman, it’s instead that I was ever a man. That’s the inconceivable part to me. So ultimately I understand the incredulity of others towards trans people. I experience it too! But my clear, unshakeable sense of myself as a woman despite the absurdity IS the very heart of what it means to be transgender for me. I don’t understand it any more than anyone else. And I don’t need to. Yes, I still feel a great deal of residual guilt and shame, but less and less of it has anything to do with my transition. I deal with it in varying ways, from distraction to therapy, art, friendship, service, and simply surviving another day.
You’ve had several issues with TSA agents while traveling, which unfortunately is all too common for trans people. What do you see as the cause of these problems, and what can be done to resolve them so that trans people aren’t afraid of being embarrassed and humiliated every time they go through airport security?
It’s hard to convey just how fucking tired I am of having my genitals touched by strangers in airports. Well…TSA agents specifically. The system is constructed as if trans people don’t exist, and the TSA’s attitude has pretty much been, well, tough shit. An agent literally presses a blue or pink button based on your appearance, and the body scan then goes to someone else in some dark room somewhere to identify any anomalies for that gendered body. Which means pre/non-op trans women, or trans men who haven’t had top surgery, get flagged as anomalous and are subject to further pat down. This happens to me half the time I go through. Half. And as much as I traveled, that means I’ve been groped over 25 times in the last couple of years. It’s humiliating, and there is zero recourse. There was literally nothing I could do about it. If I asked them rescan me, then my breasts would get flagged. Telling them I’m trans at best deescalates the situation, if the agent is trained and sympathetic, and at worst causes discomfort or derision. I will say that the agents have gotten better at handling it over the years. That is, they are friendlier and less freaked out. Which is great, but they’re still required to touch my anomaly. This has been going on for years, and nothing has been done. Is there a clearer indication that the TSA doesn’t give one damn about us? I did finally cave and get pre-check, thank heaven. But that’s not an option for many, and still doesn’t make this consistent and unnecessary humiliation and harassment anywhere close to acceptable.
The trans community has made progress in many areas over the last year or two, but it seems like this year there has been a significant increase in legislation specifically targeting trans people, such as HB2 in North Carolina and all the “bathroom bills” that seem so prevalent lately. Is this the byproduct of election year politics, or a focused effort from the conservative right pushing back against the gains we’ve made?
Oh yes, clearly. Most of the some 19 laws in different states this year bear remarkably similar language. There has been an effort by right wing groups, under the guise of “family values”, to target trans people ever since the lost the fight against gay marriage. The right operates by triggering fear of the unknown. In this case, they created a figment of men dressing up as women, poorly mind you, in order to enter bathrooms to harass little girls. This is a fever dream that’s only possible to conjure when devoid of any critical thinking of direct experience with trans people. There are already laws in place protecting people from spying or sexual assault in restrooms, there is nothing preventing anyone from walking into any restroom anyways, it completely ignores trans men, assumes trans women are predators, or that actual predators are somehow only going to prey under the guise of trans protections and will be deterred by these laws, assumes that predators have no interest in boys, completely ignores that most cases of sexual assault are committed by someone known to the victim and there isn’t an epidemic of restroom violation…I mean, we could go all day. It’s a solution in desperate futile search for a problem. Of course what it’s really about is not wanting trans people to exist. That’s the heart of it. When you say certain people can’t use bathrooms, you’re saying they can’t exist in public. They should simply go away. That’s the signal they’re sending, and the one heard loud and clear despite McCrory and others’ transparent protestations otherwise. And this is very personal to me. My mom and brother and sister-in-law all live in North Carolina. My brother was in the statehouse the day the pushed HB2 through. I’ll be there in two weeks, and technically it will be illegal for me to use the women’s room in the airport when I arrive. I’m astonished that McCrory won’t budge, despite the billions in lost revenue. What a pathetic hill to make a last stand on. Peeing. That will be his legacy. He’s the governor who lost his state billions of revenue because he didn’t want me to pee in a women’s restroom. Congrats dude.
We recently experienced yet another mass shooting in Orlando, this time specifically targeting the LGBTQ community. What can we as a nation to do lessen the risk of these massacres from repeatedly happening?
The hell if I know. It’s madness and I don’t have any solutions. I think getting rid of the guns would be a great step, but beyond that, I just don’t know.
Do you have any upcoming projects or events that you would like to share with us?
I’ve just written a feature about trans women, and it got into the Outfest Screenwriting Lab this year, which was incredible. I learned so much, made a ton of contacts, and I know the script is going to improve dramatically when I incorporate the feedback I received. I have another project coming out soon, with Silas Howard. It’s a docu-series called ‘More Than T’, and a s series of nine accompanying PSA’s, which we’re calling ‘Trans 102’. It’s a great project and is part of a larger effort by the MAC AIDS Fund to raise over a million dollars for trans projects and organizations. I have a lot of irons in the fire, and new ones every day.
Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview and for being so open and candid in your answers!
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