And Then There Was Eve Philly Screening 3/16

My wife’s debut role in the awesome film And Then There Was Eve will be opening the Women’s Film Festival in Philadephia on March 16th.

Get your tickets.

Support women in the arts and especially women in the arts who support other women in the arts.

Eve Screenings: Atlanta, San Diego, Sydney, Carmel

If you know anyone who is involved with any film festivals, please do let them know about And Then There Was Eve.

September 30 – October 1, 2017 • 11 AM
Sydney Transgender International Film Festival

Sydney, Austraila (time TBA)
http://cinewest.org/welcome/?p=10168

October 1, 2017 • 11 AM
Out on Film / Atlanta’s LGBT Film Festival
Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta GA 30308
http://www.outonfilm.org/andthentherewaseve

October 7, 2017 • 3:30 PM
San Diego International Film Festival
Regal Theater Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA
https://secure.sdiff.com/e/passes-2017/preview
October 8, 2017 • 2:30 PM
San Diego International Film Festival
ArcLight Cinemas/UTC, San Diego, CA
https://secure.sdiff.com/e/passes-2017/preview
October 18-22, 2017 • Time TBA

Carmel International Film Festival

Carmel, CA
http://carmelfilmfest.com/films/#tab-1-tab

(In)Visible: Rachel in the LA Times

I love this so much.

Rache was interviewed in the LA Times to talk about Eve – and to talk about trans visibility, especially vis a vis Bomer being cast as a trans woman. Here are my favorite bits:

She’d wrestled with the idea of transitioning, changing her gender presentation to align with her internal sense of gender identity, but she realized that opportunities for trans actors were, essentially, nonexistent.

“I figured I could either play a dead hooker that the cops made a ‘meat and potatoes’ joke about, or I could play a live hooker that the cops made a ‘meat and potatoes’ joke about,” Crowl said. “And there really was nothing else.”

and

Crowl even resembles Eve (or, perhaps, Eve resembles Crowl) in the most cursory of ways: in acerbic one-liners; off-beat, lanky swagger; and a warmth that she exudes, even toward strangers, as one might an old friend. (Crowl often opts for an introductory hug rather than a handshake because, she says, “Life’s too short.”)

and

From the get-go, Bloch — as well as the rest of her production team — was intent on finding an actress who, like Eve, was “a woman of transgender experience” (as Crowl and her friends like to say — woman first; transgender second, like an auxiliary modifier).

And yes, there’s a bit about her “thoughtful, incisive non fiction” writer of a wife, too.

Thanks to the journalist for not just seeing the “compare/contrast essay” here but in seeing that my wife’s amazing work and story were a great way to tell it.

Eve Review

There have been a few reviews of And Then There Was Eve, but this one, in particular, by Reggie Peralta, gets it right when it says:

Crowl, on the other hand, portrays Eve as remarkably well-adjusted after being so coldly rejected by her wife in what is a surprising but welcome departure from most transgender dramas. Whereas most such movies zero in on problems directly arising from their characters’ struggles to transition, Eve is unique in that she seems to have transitioned perfectly fine and is in a position to help Alyssa overcome her illness. This is a far cry from the guilty liberal idea so deeply entrenched in much of cinema (and that I described in my review of They Will Have To Kill us First) that transgender people, like other minority groups, are eternal victims of eternal problems and that there is not much one can really do besides patronize and pity them. In a cultural milieu where the word “empowering” is tossed like confetti at the smallest achievement, Crowl’s Eve genuinely is.

To be honest, I’m very proud of this from a kind of selfish point of view, precisely because I did consult on the script and because the writers listened – and, to be fair, had a holistic view of the transition from the get-go.

She seems to have transitioned perfectly fine. It’s her wife who hasn’t.

June 18th

Get your tickets while you can and we’ll see you in LA in 11 days!

For the record, this is, as far as I can tell, only the second film to ever have a trans woman play a trans woman, and thus, a HUGE DEAL. (The first one was the amazing Tangerine, which I highly recommend.)

“Extraordinary Breakout Performance”

You saw the trailer here yesterday, but the rest of the news about my wife’s film is this: it will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Sunday, June 18th.

If you can come, please do. I will most definitely be there.

The blurb/review on the ticket page describes says the film features “an extraordinary breakout performance from Rachel Crowl” (and some other nice things too).

Here’s the full blurb:

Alyssa, a successful photographer, wakes one morning to find her apartment ransacked and her husband mysteriously missing. Left without even a photograph to offer the police, she turns to his colleague Eve, a talented jazz pianist with a flirtatious charm and disarming grace. Eve helps her confront her husband’s longtime struggle with depression and to, over time, accept his absence. While getting to know this woman through such unusual circumstances, Alyssa is surprised to find herself falling in love again.
 
Featuring an extraordinary breakout performance from Rachel Crowl and an evocative jazz score by Robert Lydecker, Savannah Bloch’s directorial debut is insightful and original, both an engaging psychological thriller and a uniquely frank depiction of the difficulty of retaining one’s own identity within the confines of a romantic relationship.

Medium

I decided to try out having a presence on Medium.

Dismayed: Tomboys in the NYT

So many people, including me, read that NYT piece about the mom who was proud of her GNC child who she described as a tomboy – a girl who is masculine but female-identified. Yay, gender non conformity! Yay tomboys!

There was expected pushback from trans quarters – expected and valuable, even if I thought it was sometimes beside the point. I have a problem with all GNC behavior being considered trans except for the kinds, you know, that aren’t “trans enough” – and I know you crossdressers and genderqueer/GNC and enbies know what I’m talking about, when a binary trans person claims the high ground.

But I agreed that it didn’t make sense for the mom to be so “but she’s not trans” because honestly? So many GNC children DO turn out to be trans, and the mom would need to be open to whatever path her child might be on.

There was an exceptionally good piece by Zack Ford that tried to work out the separations and overlaps of GNC and trans.

That said, it’s come to light that the child has in fact talked about being and wanting to be a boy. Here’s the line:

“As she started to announce in ways both subtle and direct that she’s a boy, and ask me questions like “Why can’t boys have vaginas and girls have penises?” the ratio of heartwarming to heart-sinking has shifted.

So honestly? I’m disappointed and aggrieved that this mom is clinging to her child’s GNC identity as if it’s somehow the last outskirts of “normal” – that she is trying to keep her kid from crossing over into scary transland.

Just FUCK TRANSPHOBIA already.

But here’s the thing: even if her kid was “only a tomboy” – which he doesn’t seem to be – the child is already trans. Maybe not transition track, maybe not interested in medical, biological changes to their body, but trans – in the sense of the trans umbrella – all the same.

So let’s all get over it, shall we? These are not teams where one side “wins” later. More tomboys doesn’t mean more/better feminist future. Gender non conforming children need support no matter where they end up, but the last thing they need is a mom proving some point (which honestly, I’m not even sure what it is at this point) or a bunch of strangers diagnosing their gender for them. What we don’t need is parents lying about their kids’ gender identities because it suits them, and that’s exactly what this mom did.

For once, please, can we all try to realize that everyone’s experience of gender is different, and that we need to hear what people say about their own, and provide environments for children to be trans or GNC or whatever it is they are.

Medical Treatment & Trans Youth

I have to admit that I tend to peep with one eye over any article by the NYT, or any other mainstream media, when they cover trans issues of any kind. I expect the usual disasters: trans women being referred to as men, bringing up socialization as a means of discrediting their gender identity, mixing up the basics like gender expression and gender identity.

But this article, about current medical treatment for young trans people, is actually refreshing. It brings together not just what a lot of us have known for years – most people who transition do so successfully and without regret – as well as the current studies on the subject.

Despite all of the pushback, medical professionals and psychologists and teachers and parents are all beginning to get it. While I might quibble with Hannah being “born a boy” – the better way to say that is that she was assigned male at birth – overall I’m pleased to see a mainstream news article that starts with compassion and ends with science.

Crossdressers on NPR

It’s so rare to see a good story about crossdresser culture these days, but Veronica Vera, as ever, leads the way in this story from NPR.

I love that there’s a wife interviewed as well:

In fact, Pat came to Miss Vera’s Finishing School with the support of his wife of 15 years. She asked that we refer to her by her middle name, Leigh — because she too is concerned about potential scorn. Leigh says she sees how becoming Bianca lifts the weight of the world off her husband’s shoulders.

“It’s definitely a stress release for him,” she says. “It definitely helps him have more balance in his life. And all of that is good. It’s good for me as his wife. It’s good for my children.”

Leigh says she’s more concerned about her husband being judged than being judged herself.

She uses her middle name – which is precisely how I became Helen back in the day.

When We Rise #whenwerise

You really should be watching this series.

It’s not perfect, but it’s really, really good, and gets at some of the ways life was.

You can watch the first two episodes online, and catch the third and fourth tonight and tomorrow.

It’s really what we all need right now: to see what resistance looks like, what it had to look like, and how people brought their best fight, their best selves, and found alliance even within communities that had a great deal to argue about amongst themselves. But moreso: things were just starting to really improve just at the moment when the horror that was the AIDS crisis hit. Sound familiar? It should. We’re living through a similar historic moment right now.

River+Bay

I just got back to Appleton after driving from here to LA with my wife. I left her there to act. To leap. To take another jump at the acting career she left behind when she transitioned. As she puts it, she made a deal with the universe: that it could have her acting career if she could sort out a decent life as a woman.

And it did, for a very long time. The film she made this summer, And Then There Was Eve, re-lit her spark, so we figured out a way to get her back to LA so she could see what she could see. We had so many kind people in our lives – not least of which is the musician Cory Chisel, who for reasons I can’t explain seems to like us – contribute to the fund that made it possible.

We’ve always lived a little on the knife’s edge but this would be a little more than usual: usually we leap between gigs, when a job has ceased to be, or when something else (trauma, transition) opened that metaphorical window where a door used to be. But this time, we got to leap because there are so many in our lives who wanted to help. A local magazine just did one of the finest stories about us I’ve ever read — which, if you notice, doesn’t mention our genders or sexuality or transness at all, which is so goddamn awesome I can’t even begin to tell you. A special thanks to Justus Poehls and David Aragon for such beautiful work.

At one point in our interview, Helen joked, “Every story begins with Rachel, and ends with Rachel, and she’s the whole middle of the story . . . I just occasionally show up.” They lovingly jostle, but it’s apparent after spending just a little while with them that the mettle of their relationship was forged in some serious hellfire. At another point, getting up to grab a drink, Rachel laughingly noted after a bit of repartee, “We have lots of ways to tell each other to fuck off.” Through the haze of their edgy humor, there’s this rare, almost tangible sense of their solidarity.

And for that? 2016 brought so much sadness and fear and isolation, even, too, but it also brought us all this love and kindness and cheer from so many people, from every stage of our lives.

Thank you. We are happy to be able to cheer whoever we can with our antics, our love, and the endless story of our ongoing relationship with each other, with gender, with life.

Onto 2017. Happy New Year.

Unerased: New Resource on Trans Murders

Mic has introduced a new resource for tracking the murders of trans people. It includes murders in the US since 2010, only, but it does a little more digging into the statistics and how transness is “negotiated” not just by the reporting of these crimes but also by their representation in obituaries, the press, court cases, etc.

The actual database includes not just numbers but faces, info on rulings (if there is one), and can be filtered for year, age, race, gender, circumstances of death, and outcome.

The occasional pullquotes throughout are sobering, like this one: “People who kill black trans women and femmes are usually convicted of lesser charges than those who kill people of other trans identities.

And this, from Shannon Minter: “Other factors contribute to underreporting. Minter said that while murders of trans women are visible and documented to some extent, those of transgender men may be harder to track. ‘I also think there’s a lot of unreported violence against transgender men that gets recorded just as violence against women,’ he said.”

And all of this is far more troublesome because the statistics are already so high, and yet:

But it’s difficult to know the full scale of the problem. When a transgender person is killed, each step in the process of accounting for their death risks erasing that person’s gender identity. Many can’t spare the expense of having their names and gender markers updated on government documents. Law enforcement and coroner’s offices are not trained to identify transgender victims. Immediate family members who reject a trans person’s identity often withhold it from authorities. When the press learns of these murders, local reporters often don’t have the knowledge or information to investigate whether the victims were trans. The United States Census does not track transgender people, and while the FBI added gender identity as a category in its annual self-reported hate crimes report in 2014, the agency does not track gender identity along with its homicide statistics.

Please take care of each other out there.

Teaser Clip: And Then There Was Eve

The first teaser from Rachel’s movie And Then There Was Eve:

Trans Actors, Trans Stories, Trans Lives

More than a decade ago, the most talented actor I’ve ever known gave up acting. She needed to transition, and her acting career was the hardest thing she had to give up, but she didn’t want to be a pony show, a novelty, gag casting. She had played so many amazing roles – Henry V, Algernon, The Chocolate Cream Soldier, even Larry Foreman – and despite what people think about acting, playing men on stage requires a lot of gender. She couldn’t grow her nails or her hair or go on hormones that would change her face or physique too much. She squeaked by for a few years by starting her own theatre company with friends and colleagues, and without much of a thought, came out as trans in The New York Times while doing so.

(Honestly, I still remember when she came home from doing the photo and interview for the story, because I remember saying, “You did what?” “I came out.” “In The Times?” “Well I figured since your book is in Walmart, how much more out could I get?” Turns out: quite a lot more.)

So when Jeffrey Tambor said this at the Emmys last night, I thought two things: I am glad things are changing so that people like my wife don’t feel that they have to give up their careers in order to be who they are.

Now, listen to me. … I’m not going to say this beautifully. But to you people out there, you producers and network owners, and agents, and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story. Do that. And also, one more thing: I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television. We have work to do. I love you.

I also thought: those of us who come to work with you and know your stories almost always become your biggest supporters, and that doesn’t surprise me even a little.

We have been lucky and willing to leap: so much so that she took a part in a film this past year, and finally, after years of not going to see theatre and really trying hard not to think about acting at all, she is back to knowing that she is better at acting than at everything else.

I’ll add another thing: when I first wrote my books, a lot of people thought I should sell the rights, but often that came with my own suspicions about letting anyone else tell our story. We knew what it was like to deal with TV producers who wanted to cast us as tragic, and we were rejected by Oprah for being a little too urban and a little too weird. And we wanted our story told not by people who would see us as foolish or crazy or sex-crazed but only by people who would tell the story itself, not sell us as exotic or exploit us. So of course we didn’t sell the film rights – how could we, in the environment that existed a decade ago? So that other piece that Tambor said, about letting trans people have their stories, is as important a part of what he said as the piece about actors. There is a reason that the best media – print, film, video – has trans people and trans family members involved.

These are good stories, and we are good storytellers, and it’s about fucking time that someone paid some attention to that.

Your Wife is Trans? And Other Boring News…

So I kinda love this brief piece on Medium which is kind of a big yawn’s take on someone’s spouse turning out to be a woman, and yet I kinda don’t like it too.

Let me explain: there have always been partners of trans people who are a-okay with their partner’s transitions. It’s not news; there doesn’t have to be tragedy; some people adjust and move on.

For others, not so much.

And sometimes when I read pieces like this one, by any partner, which flourishes the NBD as a kind of fanfare of its own, I wonder: why? Were you forced to write the piece? Do you need to point out that those pitiful wives who do have a hard time making sexual and other adjustments just aren’t as liberated and groovy as you?

Mind you, these are all things I have been accused of. I’m in a glass house here — I’ve heard many times that I am (1) a cheerleader, (2) a gatekeeper, (3) an exploitive asshole, (4) a doormat. (I’ve never worked out how I  can be all of the above, to be honest, if anyone wants to help me work that out.)

So yay! It wasn’t a big deal for you. Trans women in particular should know that it’s not impossible to transition from within a relationship. I will honestly say that my wife and I wouldn’t have made it – not only because I was already gender-y or because I’m awesome (she would say I’m both) but because my partner valued our relationship to such a degree that she was willing to include me in her decision-making around her transition.

That is, it’s not so much about winning the partner lottery for the trans woman; often it’s about the trans person considering the other person and the relationship as much as they consider themselves. And sometimes it doesn’t work out because it doesn’t; relationships don’t, a lot, and that’s okay. A big change like transition is a lot to get through together. No one has failed if it doesn’t work out.

More narratives by more partners, please. And let’s all honor each others’ stories, struggles, and lack of struggles.

Jen Richards Lays It Out

Jen Richards carefully laid out the argument for why cis men should not play trans women on Twitter recently, in response to the news that Matt Bomer took the role of a trans woman recently in a film called Anything, which is a Mark Ruffalo project.

BOO because I really like Bomer and Ruffalo but honestly, boys, it’s over. Cut it out. No more cis men playing trans women, and FFS, please get your scripts read and reviewed by trans people. Welcome to 2016.

There is so much good in her argument, but I think I loved these two points the most:

I’m not some screechy activist. I mean all this literally. It’s happening all the time. The stakes are life & death. Our women are dying.

and

Having trans people play trans people allows for more informed, subtle, authentic performance. It makes for BETTER ART, which is the point.

I’ll add, as someone who has been interested in trans stories for a hella long time, it’s awesome when new allies get on board, and awesome too when they feel inspired enough to tell trans stories. But I’m very tired of every new dude (it’s mostly dudes) who comes along and does this kind of squee about trans women and we wind up with these exploitative stories of sex workers. So I’ll say it again: if you’re new to trans lives, stories, and identities, please try to remind yourself that there is an entire community – hell, an entire infrastructure – of professional trans people out there who can help you tell these stories well.

And Then There Was Eve

As it turns out, my lovely wife auditioned for a role in a movie called And Then There Was Eve… and got it. So after a decade away from acting, she is back to doing the thing she does best.

Here’s the announcement from the movie folks on FB:

We are thrilled to announce that Rachel Crowl will play the title role in the psychological drama And Then There Was Eve. Rachel is a seasoned stage actress and multi-talented musician who brings her dynamic talent to the complicated role.

It’s very exciting, a little nerve wracking, and the kind of curve ball we hit best.