Author: Robert Creenan
While most people were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the usual way of eating corned beef, Shepard’s pie, and drinking gallons of Guinness, Buffalo’s LBGT community was doing something different. At Evergreen Commons, guests were treated to a showing of Her Story, possibly the first show of any kind dealing with the lives of transgender people created by transgender individuals.
The show, starring transgender actresses Jen Richards (also a co-writer) and Angelica Ross, centers around 2 transgender women living in Los Angeles. Violet (Richards) is caught in an abusive relationship and starts a new one with Allie (Laura Zak), a reporter for a gay newsweekly. Paige (Ross) is a lawyer dealing with a case about a transgender woman not being allowed in a domestic violence shelter and starts a relationship with James (Christian Ochoa) and worries what will happen when James finds out that she’s transgender. Other plot points include Allie’s lesbian friends not agreeing with Paige’s stance in the lawsuit and an old friend of Violet’s, Bad Penny, performing a show in Los Angeles. Currently there are 6 10-minute episodes and they are available to watch at HerStoryShow.com.
The traveling screening that arrived in Buffalo is part of a nationwide tour the crew is doing to promote the show, which they want to get a deal for either on network or internet streaming site. It was brought to Buffalo by the Pride Center of Western New York as part of their Transgeneration series. “Usually, Transgeneration is a monthly meeting at Spot Coffee on Chippewa,” said Xavier Washington, the administrative assistant at the Pride Center. “It’s a time for people to come out and socialize.” – See Transgender Health Initiative on Facebook.
“They talk about anything and everything,” said Cameron Schraufstetter, one of the trans wellness specialists at the Pride Center. “Like transitioning, coming out, discrimination, hormones, and surgery. We’ll usually have about 12 or so, sometimes 6, other times 20. Last week, because it was a special event, we had around 70 people.”
After the show, Richards, Ross and producer Catherine Fisher took questions from the audience about the show, their lives, and the situation for transgender people in show business. Ross told a story of being on a set where the main character finds out she’s transgender as she pees into the ocean off of a pier. Both she and Richards mention sometimes when they’re auditioning for trans parts, they’re rejected because the casting director thought that they “weren’t trans enough.” Mostly, the people in the crowd had to say how much the trans characters on screen were like actual people, and properly represented the everyday problems they deal with, like being worried about relationships, the unfair discrimination, and how you don’t have to fit into a necessary stereotype to be yourself.
Fisher said that shooting was done over 3 weeks, with post-production taking another month. Funding came from an Indegogo effort and other LBGT organizations, along with individual donations on the show’s website. They’ve also gotten endorsements from Kerry Washington and Laverne Cox on Twitter.
If this show does get picked up, Richards, Ross, and Fisher hope to make longer episodes that show better representation of the transgender community, like other races not depicted so far as well as trans men. Richards said she had about 20 or so script ideas going around her head at the moment.
Lead image: Actor Angelica Ross & Key PA Dylan Sherman on the set of Her Story. Photo Credit: Tamea A. photobytamea.com
Image below: The newly renovated Evergreen Commons – 262 Georgia Street.