What Moonlight’s Best Picture Win Means To Me as a Transgender Woman

Adele Romanski, Berry Jenkins, and Jeremy Kleiner accept the Oscar® for Best motion picture of the year, for work on “Moonlight” with host Jimmy Kimmel during the live ABC Telecast of The 89th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Moonlight became the first LGBTQ movie to take home Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony. Despite the chaos that ensued towards the end of the ceremony, this was a major win for LGBTQ Americans and filmmakers. It came just a few days before I marked 10 months of hormone replacement therapy.

Just about every pundit predicted that La La Land would take home the Oscar for Best Picture. Myself included. I don’t consider myself along the same lines as Scott Feinberg, Sasha Stone, Nicole Sperling, Dave Karger, etc. but I do my best to predict based on the guild awards more so than that of the awards voted on by the critics.

I’m a Jewish transgender woman and the win gives me hope that any screenplay I write has a legitimate chance now at winning best picture at the Oscars. A film with transgender themes is not exactly something that one thinks of when it comes to the Oscars.

The Silence of the Lambs was criticized by the LGBT community due to the portrayal of a character as bisexual and trans. Dog Day Afternoon features a pre-op transgender woman and Chris Sarandon was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. More recently, The Danish Girl was released in late 2015. While Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander received much acclaim for their performances, there were several inaccuracies in the film.

Supporting characters are great and all but it’s not the same as having a transgender character not only in the lead role but played by a transgender actor or actress. I’m happy for Transparent and their many Emmy wins. It’s definitely helped with spreading awareness for the trans community. At the same time, Jeffrey Tambor said it the best when he won his recent Emmy for best actor in a comedy:

“To you people out there, you producers and network owners, and agents, and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story. Do that. And also, one more thing: I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television.”

Starting next week, I will be enrolled in classes at the Second City Training Center and will be taking Online Writing for TV and Film. My plan is to take their screenwriting classes over the next two terms that follow. Finances will most definitely be an issue as I’m going to need to undergo hours of electrolysis and that’s not going to be cheap.

I’ve previously studied acting and improv at the Second City Training Center in Chicago. While I’d like to get back to performing someday, I’m focusing on the writing side of things for now. There’s a movie or book in me and my story is one that deserves to be told, sooner rather than later.

I’ve had so many comedy writing and other writing friends suggest that I write a book to tell my story. This month, there’s a 31 Days of Trans Visibility writing prompt that started yesterday. I’m going to answer every question this month. There’s a good bet that should I write a book, it’s going to come from that.

Whether or not you have transgender friends, please stand up for our rights not just in the bathroom but our existence in public spaces.

If you are transgender, please don’t be afraid to share your story. My transition has been very public and I’m not ashamed of who I am. Nobody needs to be ashamed of who they are.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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