This week I saw a panel hosted by Sundance and Glaad that featured transgender men and transmasculine icons in film: Sydney Baloue, Elliot Feliciano, Alex Schmider, Yance Ford, Scott Turner Schofield, D’Lo, Leo Sheng, and Bobbi Salvör Menuez. In a transphobic world, it is almost a privilege to be invisible-but what is the cost of our invisibility? When cis people think of a trans person, they often think of trans women and trans feminine people but only because there are countless examples of defamation and demonization of our transgender sisters and siblings. When people lack the imagination that a man like me can exist-it reminds me just how powerful I am to exist anyway. My brothers and I exist beyond what a cisgender society defines as a man- I chose to believe that that’s what makes us so powerful.
I’m so glad that Yance Ford spoke on this panel about abolishing the Hollywood pipeline altogether. The pipeline of cisgender directors and writers in the film industry bringing trans people into the room is valuable, but only in a transitional sense. While cisgender to transgender mentorship is well-intentioned, the entire film industry’s system is designed to create distance-we are validating that distance if cisgender people are the gatekeepers of our own stories. We still need a stronger network of cisgender people in the film industry who respect and understand transgender people and our stories, but we also need to realize that this system isn’t the answer to transgender liberation in storytelling. The film industry itself is designed to create distance and this distance does not just exist between cis and trans people-it’s in every facet of marginalization. That’s like, the whole thing actually! Race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and everything that white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy touches, is part of that validation.
This panel was so fruitful to watch, I wish everyone could watch it because it connects to every facet of being a human being in 2021. We are all craving liberation and because it has yet to happen-we don’t know what it will look like and how we will get there. I believe that this panel brings up ways in which we could see this future we are craving into the present. Trans masculinity is precious, holy, and something deeply needed not just in film- but in our every day lives.
Today happened because of white supremacy.
Today, Trump supporters stormed the US Capital.
Everyone that benefits from anti Blackness and white supremacy has a duty to dismantle whiteness. We need to go into our own communities and talk with vulnerable people-particularly young people online and well meaning adults who are being brainwashed into believing in white supremacy. That uncle who’s a trump supporter or ur cousin who actively engages in white supremacy disguised as “dark humor”-they need other white people in their community to reach out to them and prevent them from becoming worse. A lot of times white suprecists are created because of isolation and misplaced anger.
The impact of reaching out to lost family members who buy into whiteness over class consciousness creates a ripple effect that prevents white supremacists being able to successfully organize.
I can’t tell u how many times I see Black and brown trans people literally campaigning for their lives. What would the world look like if more people understood the power of mutual aid? Having true tangible solidarity for the least privileged is what’s going to save all of us (but also, you should just do it bc they are fellow human beings not because I will benefit all of us). I always see black transgender organizers who are on the brink of homelessness who are the ones who are continually giving the last of their funds and their time to save others. It’s time for more privileged people, especially white cis het people, to give their time and money back to the people who need it most right now.
If u take away anything from what I just said pls talk to your family members about white supremacy.If u are white or have access to whiteness: ur money and time can be used for good.
As the year comes to a close this December, I am reflecting more and more on how I have changed as a filmmaker and artist. How exciting is it that I get to live in a time of such rapid change! This is obviously easier said than done. To simply live during a time of massive evolution is constantly expecting the unexpected, and I am one of the lucky ones. I have my family, a roof over my head, and a place where I can incubate my storytelling and be relatively safe during the covid pandemic.
Something has been calling me to share archives of my doodles, drawings, and journal entries while in this time of isolation. I have been doing these little anxiety doodles with worried faces exclaiming my inner worries since 2017 but I haven’t shared them publicly until this year. I have found the more I have shared these little faces and my chicken scratch handwriting, the more I realized I was just fearful of sharing a part of myself that is imperfect, fragile, and flawed. My work in photography and filmmaking always involved people coming together and being vulnerable in the physical world-now that we are cut off from the physical and spending a lot of time on screens for social interactions, I am less inclined to show the physical. I want to show the two dimensional, the chicken scratch, the fearful lines written in hope for a better and more imaginative world. Please enjoy this small collection of my writings and doodles.