Too Trans and Too Old to be A Writer — A Hollywood Story
Because, apparently, I am.
At the beginning of my writing career, when I was just 17 years old, I found representation through a little boutique agency. Having an agent at 17 years old may sound surprising, but I had been home schooled, and thus the opportunity to focus on writing was afforded to me until I could adequately refine my craft. By that time, I had 2 feature plays produced, written 6 feature film screenplays and was a finalist in the Outfest International Screenplay Awards- they sent me their thick program from the festival and I beamed with pride at the site of my name.
Landing that agent wasn’t easy, and not for the reason you might think. Linda, the owner of the agency, would talk to me on the phone and berate me about the sound of my voice. I was a young budding trans woman and naturally effeminate with a high pitched voice. This troubled her, presuming it made me sound weak. “Talk in a boy’s voice for me” she said once during a meeting. “I need you to sound like a young man. You’re a genius young man, I want people to take you seriously, not walk away laughing.” She said. I practiced lowering my tone for weeks before giving up.
The first screenplay that ever generated interest was a extremely long saga that examined sexuality, taboo relationships and the consequences of obsession. It was a dark thriller where my protagonists were straight couple comprised of a trans woman and cis man, and another couple both cis, who occupied the apartment across the hall from them in a new luxury highrise. It was very edgy for its time, and soon John Ferraro of Paramount was on the phone with me for over 45 minutes discussing the merits of the screenplay which he lauded with praise. His only concern was the transgender woman, and suggested that the story would be served if I’d change the character to a traditional woman. He was exceedingly kind and very supportive, and I told him I’d think about it. I had difficulty making such a profound change that would have completely altered the nucleus of a pivotal character.
I never called back… much to the outrage of my agent at the time.
Later that year, Linda decided the agency was transitioning into a firm that primarily managed actors and models. I was fortunate enough to be…