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Trans Media Arts — Trans in Arts & Entertainment

| Jul 20, 2015
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Amanda F.

Hi ya everyone! I am Amanda F. and I am the new blogger for the TGForum arts & entertainment column Trans Media Arts. I have been writing a regular column here for a few months and am excited to take the helm. I am a huge fan of everything entertainment and am excited to apply that to the transgender world where there are a ton of things happening right now. So let’s take her out, full impulse!

Arguably, the biggest thing in transgender entertainment is the premier of I am Cait, Caitlyn Jenner’s new reality show that begins July 26th at 9pm on E! “Put it this way: I am the new normal,” declares Cait at the end of the trailer for the show. It appears that the first episode will culminate with Jenner driving into public for the first time. I can attest to the thrill of that first time you venture out as a transgender person. You are scared, but yet, it feels so good. You feel legitimate and real and no longer having to hide in the shadows.

This is a highly anticipated event, perhaps the biggest event ever for transgender folks. Cisgender people will be tuning in, along side transgender people, to watch this historic show. Perhaps this will be our Ellen Show. Ellen DeGeneres came out as gay on her show in 1997 and it continues to be a watershed moment for the gay and lesbian community. In any case, I will be watching and hoping that Cait keeps it real, which, I think she will.



Another big deal lately is the Netflix show Sense8.


sense8-01The show is about a group of people from around the world who are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world’s order. Actress Jamie Clayton plays San Franciscan blogger, activist and transwoman Nomi Marks in this series directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski of The Matrix fame. Lana Wachowski transitioned from male to female a few years back herself, thus, bringing an authentic edge to this show’s depiction of a transwoman. In the second episode, Nomi has a particularly hard time with her mother who loves her, but continues to misgender her and call her by her old name. This scene was particularly gripping and was very representative of many trans experiences with family.

Nomi’s story is set, to my delight, in San Francisco. In the show, it is Pride in San Francisco. Nomi is celebrating with her girlfriend and rides a motorcycle through the streets representing the real Dykes on Bikes. These scenes gave me pride that my new city is being gloriously highlighted in this show. In Nomi’s video blog she gives a stirring diatribe about why she wants to march in the Pride Parade and what it means to her.


“I am not just a me, I am also a We,” swelled me with pride as shots of the Castro and the giant rainbow flag waving in the breeze provided strong visuals. I think the show has great potential, not only to entertain, but to also highlight a trans experience that resonates with many trans folks.

Orange is the New Black

Of course we can’t mention Netflix without mentioning Orange is the New Black featuring our own Laverne Cox.  OITNB is now in its third season and continues to be a cutting edge show about women in prison. I was happy to see that we got to see a bit more of Laverne’s character Sophia Burset  and her twin brother who plays Sophia pre-transition. It has been reported that Laverne has just completed a pilot for CBS entitled Doubt in which she plays an attorney. So far, I am at episode 5 of this OITNB season. The pace has definitely slowed. I know that there are some conflicts that arise in later episodes. I sure hope the pace quickens. The addition of actor/model/DJ, Ruby Rose will certainly spice things up. Ruby identifies as gender fluid but uses female pronouns. She rose to fame with her short film Break Free.


Against Me!


Against Me! is a punk rock band fronted by Laura Jane Grace. Laura is a transwoman who transitioned in 2012 from Tom Gabel to Laura Jane Grace and upended the punk rock and hard rock world in the process. The singer/songwriter came out in Rolling Stone Magazine 3 years ago and has only gotten stronger since. Against Me! scored a number of hits on the rock/hardrock charts including Thrash Unreal and I Was a Teenage Anarchist throughout the 2000s. Their release of Transgender Dysphoria Blues in early 2014 marked a new direction, but with the same snarl and attitude fans have become accustomed to. I attended their show in Charlotte on May 2, 2014 and my socks were rocked off. To see a person in the punk or hard rock genre up on stage and also being trans, was a powerful thing. Usually rock music brings out the machismo and testosterone in its bands and its fans. Laura proves that trans girls can rock just as hard, if not harder than the boys. I have become a huge fan of their music. I was already a punk/metal/hard rock fan to begin with, but AM!’s sound can be appreciated by anyone that likes melodic and gritty rock n’ roll.

The band has just announced their second live album, 23 Live Sex Acts in keeping with True Trans Soul Rebel fashion. It features 23 live songs recorded on their current Transgender Dysphoria Blues Tour 2013-2015. After a swing through the States, they hit Europe for the summer festival season. The live album will be released in September.

Courtney Act — Not ugly

Courtney Act

Courtney Act

Courtney Act is an Australian drag queen, pop singer and entertainer runner-up on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She will be releasing her debut EP called Kaleidoscope. Her music is pop/electronic in the vein of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Beyoncé. She mesmerizes in her video for the song Ugly as she reverses the role of a stranded stranger encounter. Gender roles and machismo are challenged in this cute but sexy video. Courtney is definitely one of the most beautiful women who was not born a genetic woman. I liked the song Ugly and I thought it fit very well together with the images in the video. The song is catchy but yet has an edge of seriousness to it. “Let you see the good if you know me/show you all the bad if you love me/Oh woah Only I know the ugly,” sings Courtney as she challenges the listener to look past the facade of what people see and find out what’s really on inside. This song is really growing on me and has a good, simple message for both cis folks and transgender folks.


Big news in film, the independent film Tangerine opens this week in limited theaters. Tangerine was amazingly shot on two iPhone 5s and directed by Sean Baker. The story follows two trans women of color who are sex workers. On Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, they search for their pimp to exact revenge. The film was a Sundance Film Festival darling and even set off a mild bidding war for the rights to distribute the film.


Around these parts, its playing in San Francisco and Berkeley. So, you may want to check your more artsy or liberal movie houses near you.

Chocolate Hedwig

taye-diggs-hedwigIn stage news, Taye Diggs will be taking over the role of Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hedwig is about a transsexual punk-rock girl from East Berlin who tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs. Taye says he hopes to bring “a little chocolate” to the role, being of African-American descent. Taye Diggs version of Hedwig runs July 22 through October 11 on Broadway at the Belasco Theater in New York City.

Big Brother Features a Trans Sister

In other news, the CBS show Big Brother has had a transwoman join the cast for season 17, which is airing now. Her name is Audrey Middleton. In a show where contestants from all walks of life are forced to live together, things can get interesting in a hurry.

On The Bookshelves

rethinking-normalAnd finally, a new book called Rethinking Normal by transwoman Katie Rain Hill is out in book stores and digital. Now at age 19, she has written a memoir about her transition and gender reassignment surgery. Katie, who never felt comfortable in her own skin, realized very young that a serious mistake had been made; she was a girl who had been born in the body of a boy. Suffocating under her peers’ bullying and the mounting pressure to be “normal,” Katie tried to take her life at the age of eight years old. After several other failed attempts, she finally understood that “Katie”—the girl trapped within her—was determined to live.

In this first-person account, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood and the events leading up to the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment as a teenager. She reveals the unique challenges she faced while unlearning how to be a boy and shares what it was like to navigate the dating world and experience heartbreak for the first time in a body that matched her gender identity. Told in an unwaveringly honest voice, Rethinking Normal is a coming-of-age story about transcending physical appearances and redefining the parameters of “normalcy” to embody one’s true self.

Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
272 pages
ISBN 9781481418232
Released September 2014, Grades 8 and up
List Price $17.99

That’s all for now folks! I hope this keeps you all busy for the next month. “You stay classy San Diego!” And, remember to eat your Wheaties! It could make you a decathlon champ.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


About the Author ()

I am a transwoman originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I have been living full time for 5 years. I work in retail but am an artist/Graphic Designer and aspiring writer. I tend to address the controversial in my writing. I would love to change the world one article at a time. I moved to The San Francisco Bay Area to start over, again. But recently moved back to the East Coast. The adventure continues...

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