Calpernia Addams & Andrea James
December 7, 2004
We can change hearts and minds through the media
In our work to improve roles available to transgender actors in Hollywood, we’ve learned not to take occasional rejection personally. Overcoming occasional rejection is a job requirement in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the 2004 election was personal. The LGBT community was used as a wedge to divide America. Our families are the new American folk demon in this moral panic about marriage.
The political record of this administration foretells a bleak legal future for already marginalized trans people–and not just in family and employment laws, challenges we share with gays and lesbians. Legal and political recognition of gender affects our everyday existence, such as the ability to use a public restroom or to get a government ID that reflects who we are. Our most basic quality of life is at stake.
Several state supreme courts, including Bush family strongholds Florida and Texas, have recently ruled that we do not have the legal right to be recognized as the sex we know we are. The federal Department of Homeland Security changed U.S. immigration policy in April to forbid recognition of any marriage in which one or both applicants are transsexual. Under this ruling, transsexuals seeking citizenship for their families cannot be legally married to anyone.
And if you thought constitutional amendments narrowly defining marriage were fun, look out for new laws that define and limit the two sexes.
Still, because many of the issues that affect transgender people will probably not be resolved in our lifetimes, we tend to take the long view. People will in time come to understand and accept what we can teach them from our unique vantage point.
Meanwhile, as the legal battles are fought, we will continue to work on changing hearts and minds through positive portrayals in the media. We all still have much to do, but we will prevail, despite setbacks, despite outrages, despite challenges. We will endure.
Addams (pictured) and James cofounded Los Angeles-based Deep Stealth Productions.