Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

GUEST COLUMN Still a Cis World After All
by Delia Kropp
2018-06-06

This article shared 1130 times since Wed Jun 6, 2018
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


A tragic, drug-addicted hooker ( Dallas Buyers Club ). A slasher-transvestite ( Dressed to Kill ) and a slasher-transvestite dressing as his dead mother ( Psycho ). A transwoman who tragically perishes during pioneering gender-affirmation surgery ( The Danish Girl ), a trans man brutally murdered by transphobes ( Boys Don't Cry ), and even a madperson performing their own bizarre sex-change by culling skins from female murder victims ( Silence of the Lambs ).

Extraordinary exceptions? No. Sadly, these are the norm in Hollywood, and elsewhere too. In those rare instances where a trans character survives the final act, it's usually to live in infamy, destitution or disgrace.

Now imagine you are, like me, a transgender human. Nearly every cis person processes you with a brain already crammed with these lurid transgender movie tropes. Inevitably, some behave as if you're a actual threat. The bank teller poises to press her alarm; that gang member on the Brown Line threatens to carve you up ( both happened to me ). Why? Because your real-life face is just one among their familiar fictional gallery of fictional freaks, outsiders, and psychopaths. So, some respond less to who you actually are than their own unfounded fears.

Still, the question I often get is: Why does it matter in a movie or stage work who plays a certain trans role, who directs the production, or who writes the script? My answer is: Because transgender lives depend on getting it right. And because cis people have a terrible track record of exploitation, sensationalism and inaccurate trans narratives.

Receiving the Leppen Leadrship Award from About Face Theatre for my service to the transgender community was a surprise because I'm not an advocate or activist in the any traditional sense, but an actor and director. Just a storyteller doing what I know best: taking stage. Making lots of noise and being very visible on behalf of my transgender tribe.

When a raft of problematic stage shows premiered in 2016, from little storefronts to behemoths like The Goodman, it alarmed me how trans representation and authenticity were being muscled aside by otherwise sympathetic theatre artists. I had worked as a cisgender actor for 30 years and been part of that community. If I wouldn't stand up and cry foul, who would?

Compared to the brutality out in the real world, the arts probably seem pretty easy to change. Just bleeding-heart bastions of empathy, inclusion, and equality, right? Well, let me share some typical responses when I speak up about missteps in transgender representation on Chicago's stages.

"Don't you dare censor my Art!"

Live theater today is a notoriously hands-off endeavor. If a director wants to stage King Lear with Kabuki puppets wearing tutus, then he shall do so, and don't spare the tulle. The conviction is that artistic meddling from outside the rehearsal hall, be they board members, audience members, or social justice warriors, is bound to be bad. It has roots in the First Amendment, but even deeper ones in the mainstream ( white, cisgender, often hetero ) convictions that the 1950s and Joe McCarthy are just around the corner. Today's mainstream often forgets that stories about any disenfranchised group also peddle in matters of non-fictional life and death. If you shape public perception, you directly impact the privileges, laws, and even physical survival of marginalized people. So in certain cases, I will gladly see your "Hands off my Sacred Art" and raise you the lives of trans persons, persons of color and other disenfranchised Americans persons threatened by acts of hate.

"But we artists LOVE you, we feel your pain ... and also you need our skills/access/privilege to get the message out there."

To be sure, theater folk are trained to expertly insert themselves squarely into any character's tattered shoes, and walk their woeful walk. The "We Can Be Anyone" tradition of Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman runs deep. Their cry is We are Artists! We are Everyman!

Well, you know the problem with that? Actors and writers do exactly what they say: they put THEMSELVES into minority characters. I'm sorry, but no coffee chats with your ( one ) trans friend, no Howlround articles nor hours of RuPaul's Drag Race can change the intrinsic fact of your cisgender-ness. You ARE. NOT. TRANS.

Which is critical because ...

An artists' strongest concerns, insights, and convictions inevitably concern themselves. Life is rendered through the grimy lense of our own experiences and perspective. This is just human nature. Undeniably, today's artists sometime achieve their rainbow-and-unicorn dream world where pure artistic imagination ( and that hard-earned MFA ) magically supercede the all limits of their experience. Where trans stories are concerned, no such Superpowers are in evidence. Cis artists don't even score passing grades when depicting our transitions, our self-perception, our love-lifes, and especially not our typical roles in society.

"But I'm gay, I know your pain."

Oh dear Lord, no. You're gay and you know YOUR pain. But, because trans is hip and cool, we become ciphers for your stories. I had the displeasure to direct such a play, that tried to translate its writer's memories of mid-century gay youth into a modern transgender story. The ways he got us wrong staggered not only me but my cisgender cast, too. Yet this play had been judged exemplary by several gay theater artists until I staged a reading, and detailed its many trans-gressions. Folks are still discovering that we're not all interchangable LGBT misfits.

So I continually challenge our entertainment industry because these insitutions resist change, and trans people are still largely figments of cisgender imagination. And I believe that artists' response has to be No. No more marginalization. No more noble deaths but tales where we flourish. No more heart-of-gold whores but transgender business owners, mothers, and steel workers. Our very survival depends on this.

Like all human beings, we merit narratives which exemplify our right to exist with dignity, and to move freely among our fellow man. Only then shall I gladly confine my noise and fury to the stage.

*Note: The author here uses "transgender" to denote all gender-nonconforming persons typically grouped under that umbrella term.

Before gender transitioning, Delia Kropp trained in England and Chicago, and acted with a variety of Chicago companies including The Goodman, Red Twist, Griffin, Lifeline, and Pegasus Players. She won Best Supporting Actor for her work as Alan in "Equus" at Michigan's renowned Boarshead Theatre. She has also directed a number of productions for Chicago storefront and educational institutions. Delia's female acting career begins with "Raggedy And" at Pride Films and Plays in 2016.


This article shared 1130 times since Wed Jun 6, 2018
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Chicago trans rapper Lila Star releases new song
2022-08-14
Video below - Chicago trans rapper Lila Star (most known for her guest vocals on Shea Coulee's 2017 single "Cocky") has released the music video for her latest single, "Sex Appeal," which may strike some as a tribute to ...


Gay News

WORLD Vietnam's pro-LGBTQ+ move, Grindr kidnappings, Taiwan event
2022-08-14
Video below - Vietnam took a major step forward in the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights with the country's Ministry of Health stating that being gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease and urging medical practitioners to end discrimination ...


Gay News

NATIONAL: Conn. candidate, trans study, D.C. attacks, Palm Springs Pride
2022-08-14
LGBTQ Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Erick Russell won the Democratic primary election for Connecticut state treasurer, according to an organizational press release. With this victory, he is on track to become the first out Black LGBTQ+ person ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Movie short, 'Kaepernick,' ice cream and more
2022-08-14
—Fraud: Non-binary director Zen Zadih Pace's debut narrative short, Fraud—starring trans actress Dana Aliya Levinson (STARZ's American Gods) and Babak Tafti (Showtime's Super Pumped)—was selected for ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Okla. schools, Tenn. lawsuit, political items, Mich. library
2022-08-07
Video below - Oklahoma public schools have started requiring students from kindergarten to college to complete "biological sex affidavits" if they want to compete in school sports, in accordance with a state law that took effect earlier this year, ...


Gay News

Angelica Ross to be first trans lead in Broadway's 'Chicago'
2022-08-04
Trans actors have made all sorts of impressions on Broadway, but former Chicagoan Angelica Ross has set a precedent. Next month, the leading role of fame-hungry murderess Roxie Hart will be played by Angelica Ross. Ross ...


Gay News

Judge: W. Va.'s Medicaid program must cover transgender care
2022-08-04
In West Virginia, U.S. District Judge Chuck Chambers ruled that the state's Medicaid program must provide coverage for gender-confirming care for transgender residents, ABC News reported. Chambers made the ruling on Aug. 2 in a lawsuit ...


Gay News

Attorneys general file brief in Indiana trans case
2022-08-04
A coalition of 22 attorneys general, including Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and New York counterpart Letitia James, filed an amicus brief in the case of A.C. v. Metropolitan School District of Martinsville opposing the school ...


Gay News

HRC commends White House Monkeypox (MPV) Coordinator appointments; calls for greater federal response
2022-08-02
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, commended the Biden Administration for appointing Robert Fenton and ...


Gay News

Brave Space Alliance plans to raise salaries, urges partner agencies to follow suit
2022-08-01
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — Aug.1, 2022 — Brave Space Alliance, the South Side LGBTQ+ Center, announced a sweeping new plan to increase the organization's base salary to $43,000 for entry-level staff, equivalent to an hourly wage of $20.67/hr. ...


Gay News

Vallas speaks at event of group known for anti-LGBTQ+ views [UPDATE]
2022-08-01
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO and current mayoral candidate Paul Vallas spoke at a fundraiser for Awake Illinois—a group that has been criticized for its transphobic and homophobic rhetoric, The Chicago Reader reported. The group hosted ...


Gay News

WORLD Cuban referendum, Gay Games, Berlin attacks, Indian trans men
2022-07-31
Cuba's parliament announced that the country will hold a referendum on the legalization of same-sex marriage and surrogate parenthood, Deutsche Welle reported. The referendum on the new family law is scheduled to be held Sunday, Sept. ...


Gay News

Show about trans+ women models to debut Aug. 5 on Here TV
2022-07-29
The Here TV docuseries Road to the Runway—which focuses on trans+ women models—will debut Friday, Aug. 5. The series profiles the 20 hopefuls competing in this year's annual Slay Model search. Cameras follow the women to ...


Gay News

VIEWS Can gay men dial back sex until our monkeypox vaccinations?
2022-07-28
Years from now, there will be gay men who made it through a case of monkeypox who will have the scars up and down the shaft of their penis to prove it. Let me repeat that. Scars. On their cock. For ...


Gay News

Trans artist to showcase woodworking on Aug. 13
2022-07-27
Trans artist J. Emmett (he/they), of J. Emmett Studios, will open his private studio for the first time to show his custom woodworking, along with works from local ceramicist Krista Tyner (she/her), of TynerWorks. The "A ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.