On Passports

A note from the woman who has been hassled about her passport has a few things to say:

I want to clarify some things for people. Please share this post to trans groups.

One: What’s happening with my passport is unique to the facts in my case (adoption as a minor and being trans) and I have been crystal clear about that. As a trans person with a relatively high profile I do have lingering questions about the extent of hoops I am being asked to jump through as well as the cruel indifference with which the current policy is being applied in my case.

Two: journalist who are personal friends publishing whole hog “friends only” Facebook posts without waiting to get permission, quotes, or contexts is not only unethical journalism, but could place a source (me) in danger. It violates journalistic ethics and standards. I could be deported from Sweden as I am here on a tourist visa and saying otherwise can cause me to loose status here. I could also possibly be arrested upon reentry as I am currently unable to prove citizenship to the satisfaction of State Dept. I’m really angry at Sarah Toce from LGBTQ Nation / Seattle Lesbian for publishing an update intended for a limited audience of friends and family that has been following an ongoing story and are concerned about me.

It has been unnecessarily alarming the community by not placing it in the context of my individual case facts while also placing me in jeopardy by antagonizing a very delicate situation. Backing the Trump administration into a corner is never a good idea, they could easily choose to make an example of me. I asked Sarah to retract the story, she didn’t, instead she deleted my request. People should apply pressure to get the story taken down.

NCTE has issued a great statement that the policy has not changed at the State Department with clear instructions on how to get a passport. They are absolutely in the best possible position to know! People should continue to be able to get their passports.

The facts in my case (sealed court records as a minor) make producing certain documents they are demanding extremely difficult without traveling to Maine to appear in court.

That combined with a rigid and cruelly indifferent application of the current policy, a few pissed off and rude bureaucrats who have made threats – is what has produced a shit show around both my legal status, my fear of possibly being accused of fraud, and questions on the validity of my temporary passport.

We should continue to monitor if people are unable to get passports or encounter problems – as some other cases have now started popping up.

BUT people should not draw conclusions from simply a small sample size of 2 that the sky is falling. I am playing it safe. I am in Sweden for safety reasons and will return when I feel that doing so is safe. That is my #1 priority.

Lots of people are working hard on my case from allied organizations, lawyers, Congress people, attorney general’s, UN Human Right Council, etc. I am sharing my process because it is isolating and terrifying in the current context of our government.

I have faith that it will eventually get to some resolution, until then it is complex problem with a unique set of facts and other people should not fear their own ability to get a passport. So go get your passport.

Johansson Says No (& Sorry)

Scarlett Johansson apologized and turned down the role.

This is how you do it: listen, learn, change, apologize, affirm.

Wow, it is so rare I get to say that:

“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”

Rain Valdez: In Support of Trace and Van

The first time I met Jeffrey Tambor in 2015, it was at the table read for the 1st episode of season 2 of Transparent. He shook my hand, asked what I did and welcomed me to the family.

My 2nd encounter with Jeffrey was at the LGBT center for Trans Pride. I was manning the Transparent casting booth along side Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst. I had been there the whole day. The cast members including Jeffrey Tambor, Alexandra Billings, Trace Lysette, Amy Landecker and Melora Hardin had come to visit the booth later that afternoon after an actors workshop that was scheduled earlier that day. They came for support and to greet and take photos with the heart of the show. The trans community.

Upon seeing me at his arrival Jeffrey walked straight up to me, hugged me tight around my waist and planted a kiss right on my lips. I was a little thrown but thought nothing of it because I was just happy to be working on this show that celebrated my identity and made a point to uplift me so many ways. 

During season 2, Trace and I bonded very quickly. I knew that we would be lifelong friends after we had coffee and shared stories of our paths into our womanhood and navigating the movie and TV industry as actors and then having the a similar turning point of being out and proud trans actresses. Shortly after the infamous “Yasss Queen” kitchen scene was shot, I was dropping Trace home from work and a night out with girlfriends. It was just the two of us in my car and I had asked her if she had any more scenes to shoot this season. So we got to talking about the show. This is when she confided in me about what Jeffrey had done to her at work and what Alexandra Billings had over heard him say to her, “Trace, I want to attack you. Sexually.” She also revealed to me that when no one else was looking, he got closer to her, planted his feet on top of hers and started humping her leg to a point where she could feel his genitals on her skin. I was mortified and asked if she was ok. She even warned me to stay clear of him, which I made a point to do moving forward. But at the time I didn’t know what I could do. At the time I was just an assistant and I was taught to be grateful to have a job. I was also afraid to lose my job. I now regret reducing myself to a powerless assistant. Sometimes my transness allows people to take away my qualifications, offering me the lowest paying job, even though I had been a Producer at post facilities for many years before I joined Transparent. But I was grateful because I was being seen. I was grateful because I knew what this show meant for my community and our future jobs. And I’ll continue to stand behind it but I’m not gonna pretend that I was safe. I’m not gonna pretend that I didn’t protect myself by keeping my distance because I knew something was wrong.

I’m not at all too surprised that I woke up Tuesday morning to a Hollywood Reporter article empathizing with the perpetrator Jeffrey Tambor and vilifying the accusers, Trace and Van. Hollywood has historically made a culture out of vilifying and shaming trans women. Reducing us to butt of the jokes and fetishes. Only this time it’s not just happening in the storytelling. It’s happening for reals. But not today, Satan. And not ever. You want to get together with your bro Seth Abramovitch at the Hollywood Reporter and play victim and slut shame the women who accused you of your abhorrent behaviors? Well, go head. Have your pity party. We know who the real slut is. It is you, Jeffrey Tambor, the predator, and always have been since my earliest encounters with you. I want to declare again that I believe my sisters Trace and Van I continue to stand with them 100% and I will do anything I can to help stop the vilifying because we’re done with that. We’re done with the lies and no pity party article is going to change that.

How It Feels

Another new piece up on Patreon, and this one came about in an interesting way: what I wanted was to make a list of things I want to write about, things I want to describe so that anyone else experiencing them might feel less shame about them.

Instead I wound up with the list itself becoming the piece.

It’s called How It Feels (My Brain is Against Me)

Here’s 4-7:

4. To be post traumatic

5. To be a depressive living in a blindly optimistic world

6. To be deep hearted and loyal in a shallow place

7. To fail

There are 20. It’s up on Patreon. 

Fuck Gender.

I read this piece at Cornell this past Thursday (along with a few other things):

 

I’ve recently been reading Lou Sullivan’s biography and I’m having trouble with it because some of it cuts too close to the bone for me.

I’m not sure how he came to understand he was a gay man when there was little or no awareness of either gay men or trans men, but he did, and I’m astonished by that. I’ve been hanging out on the edges of gender dysphoria my whole life but never really named it that. Genderqueer, gender neutral, genderfuck: these were the words I started using to talk about myself back in 1985.

There’s a photo of me in masculine drag from when I was 16 and found out I would have been named Doug had I been assigned male at birth. My nickname in high school was The Gentleman – not because of my class, but because I opened doors and took care of women in ways that more closely resembled gentle masculinity than anything else.

I feel sexiest when I feel like Adam Ant or Rufus Wainwright. Feminine forms of sexy have never, ever appealed to me – not when I was skinny, not when I was fat, not when I was an hourglass. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to make curves straight lines with little success. Only now that I’m older and lose muscle mass at an alarming rate have my jeans started to fit my hips in ways I don’t hate.

I have always resisted identifying as trans, maybe because I grew up raised my 2nd wave feminists who wanted to get rid of gender for good and feminist reasons. Maybe because I grew up in an era of trans activism where people who needed medical and legal intervention really, really, really needed the healthcare industry and the legal precedents to be recognized as people at all. Priorities, you know?

Read the rest on Patreon.

Five Questions With… Reid Vanderbergh

Reid Vanderbergh is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon who began his transition in 1995, and started taking hormones in 1997, at the age of 41. He went to Portland State University and then did his MA in Couseling Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. He is a member of the WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health, formerly known as HBIGDA), the IFGE, as well as the American Asssociation of Marriage and Family Therapists. He is the author of Transition & Beyond, published by Q Press

(1) As far as I know, you are the only therapist who is also trans to write a book about transness. Do you worry about people assuming you’re biased (in a good or bad way)?

As far as I know, no other trans therapists have published books about working with trans clients. I have had the experience of people assuming I am biased in the direction of transition; usually, those who make this assumption are related in some way to a client considering transition. However, when this comes up, I explain to them that I am not biased toward transition, precisely because I DO know how difficult and life-changing this process is. Therefore I don’t approach it lightly.

Now that my book is out there, I expect this question to come up among people who don’t know me, and also don’t know any clients who have worked with me. I hope people will ask me the question directly, rather than making the assumption that because I’m trans and did choose physical transition, that I automatically assume that’s the path for all my trans clients.

The one arena which worries me somewhat around this question of bias is academia. I’m hoping my book will be used as a text; my fear is, if I am seen as a community member writing about my own community, my book may be “suspect” because it may not be considered objective enough for academic credibility. Being subjective has been considered the ultimate faux pas within academia. Not that I think this as a valid view – I think the ultimate experts on a lived experience are those who undertake it – but I do fear this attitude may affect acceptance of my book within academia.

Continue reading “Five Questions With… Reid Vanderbergh”