Actresses Alexandra Grey and Trace Lysette and model Teddy Quinlivan joined Out Wednesday on Instagram Live to celebrate the trans community in honor of Trans Day of Visibility. In a wide-ranging discussion, the group covered everything from dating while trans and anti-trans bills to advice for young trans people and Disclosure’s Oscar snub. The frank conversations also revealed how the political climate has impacted their lives perosnally.
“Happy Trans Day!” Lysette, who is known for her roles in Transparent, Pose, Hustlers, and Drunk History said at the beginning of the panel. In addition to being an actress, Lysette is also a recording artist who recently released her first single, “SMB,” and produced the docuseries Trans in Trumpland. “I know there’s a lot going on right now with all these shady bills happening, but it is important for us to celebrate ourselves and bring joy, because if we don’t laugh through this sh*t, how are we gonna get through it?”
Quinlivan, who has made her name as a model walking for brands like Jason Wu, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Christian Siriano and more, agreed. “We really need to celebrate ourselves and also let the world know that we are here, we are here to stay, we’ve always been here,” she said.
After Lysette mentioned the slew of anti-trans bills that have been being introduced in the United States, the others had a lot to say on the subject. “It’s just sick,” Grey, an Out cover star who stepped into the spotlight with a role on Transparent but has since had roles on Empire and a variety of other programs, said. “It's 2021 and I really don’t understand this country.”
Quinlivan added that “when Donald Trump got elected, it sort of sounded the alarm for me and our community that we really needed to step up to the plate and fight for our rights. It’s crazy to me that trans issues have become political and our bodies have become political.”
The model, who became the first out trans model to be hired by Chanel in 2019, revealed that while she began her career working "in stealth" meaning that she hadn't made her gender identiy publicly known, the policies and politics out of the Trump administration pushed her to come out publicly. She did that in 2017.
But none of them want trans youth to give up. “I want trans youth to dream and shoot for the stars, because we didn’t know we could, and I think that they can now,” Lysette said. “I don’t want them to get sidetracked by all this legislation and all this bullsh*t.” Quinlivan added that even when things seem hopeless, she doesn’t give up. “There’s no administration, and no political agenda that can stop me from loving myself,” she said.
Lysette went further saying she forces herself to find joy in moments like these. For her, many times that joy comes from being in community with other trans folks. In the conversation she revealed that every Sunday she does Zoom brunches with other trans figures in Hollywood like Mj Rodriguez, Laverne Cox, Peppermint, Joslyn DeFreece, and Deja Smith.
"That is revolutionary to me because I will not allow this world to take me down," she said.
For Grey, her new role on the CBS drama MacGyver is a way into people’s homes who might not otherwise be exposed to trans people, and especially trans people of color. “We as a community are fighting in all aspects to try and change people’s hearts and minds,” she said. “I have to hope as an actress that me on MacGyver talking about nanobots and nanotrackers as a Black trans woman, that allows someone at home who doesn’t think trans people are ‘real’ or whatever, that they’re just like, ‘oh wow, she’s super normal.’”
Lysette agreed. “There’s something about a Black trans woman speaking about nanobots and science on mainstream network TV that I know is unparalleled,” she said. “It’s a way into middle america that is so disarming and they kind of have no choice but to just take you in.”
They also all had a lot to say about dating as trans women. “When I think about the men I’ve been intimate with, I wonder how many of them would piss on me if I’m on fire,” Grey said. “Because they wouldn’t want anyone to know.” But she knows that’s on them, not on her. And that these men aren’t disgusted by trans women, but afraid of how attracted they are to us.
“When cis men can step up and own their attraction to trans women specifically, I feel like that is going to create a shift like no other,” Lysette added. She also mentioned that she’s been in several relationships where she didn’t tell her partner she was trans. “I used to not tell people, and I had full on relationships with straight cis men,” she said. “And some people will be like ‘oh that’s deceiving,’ To me, I’m just living my truth, I’m being me. And everyone is not entitled to my gender history, they’re not entitled to what I went through in my youth.”
To see the rest of their conversation, check out the whole video on Out’s Instagram and below.