Peter Monn and Alex Paredes

Wild Girl: The Transformation of Maria Roman

Filed By Peter Monn and Alex Paredes | July 06, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Maria Roman, reality shows, reality TV, Wild Things

We fell in love with her the moment she came onto the screen in Trantasia. There was just something about her smile, her honesty, her absolute sensuality that lit up every corner of the film. And now she is starring in a new film, Remember Me in Red as well as her own reality television show, Wild Things.

After listening to her discuss the film, we fell in love with her even more. Because not only is she a pretty face - an amazingly gorgeous face and a curvaceous body - she's your wife, your mother, your sister, your friend. She's all woman!

Our interview with Maria Roman is after the jump.

1. When and where did the transformation of Maria Roman begin?

I began living my life as a woman at the age of 19 in good old Reno, Nevada. Well, honey, let me tell ya it was not peaches and crème. Since I was a little boy I always knew something was different about me. I must admit that as a little boy, I prayed for years that I could be like my brother and his friends. However, everyday I was reminded of how weird and different I was. Taunting and name-calling were a constant echo that will harm any child's spirit.

Of course as I knew no better as a child. I was guided by my instincts which always got me in trouble because there was behavior that was not acceptable for boys. After years of struggling with a deep disconnect from my true sense of self and the body I had been born with, I had no choice but to begin living life in a manner that was true to my self and to all around me. So the journey, and I mean journey, to self discovery and womanhood began. I must admit I continue to evolve so I don't think that process will ever be complete. However, after years of struggling with issues, many of which my community today continue to face, ranging from sex work for survival, homelessness, discrimination, hopelessness, I truly have arrived. It's interesting how we create this image of the type of woman we envision our self being and the lengths we will go to achieve it.

I continue to make wrong choices from time to time and on many occasions I scrape my knees really bad. But I get up, dust my weave, adjust my dress and begin smiling because after all I have been blessed with another day and the opportunity to start all over again. And that is a beautiful reason to smile...

2. What was your experience like in Trantasia?

Trantasia was a once in a lifetime experience that came to me from left field. At that time I was the Program Manager at Transgender Unidos for Bienestar Human Services; one of the largest and most comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention programs targeting the Latina transgender community in Los Angeles county. While working at a local transgender club, handing out safe sex kits, I was approached by Shana Steel herself, who asked if I would be interested in competing in the Worlds Most Beautiful Transsexual pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. I mean, hell, the title of the pageant alone was over the top and this icon asked if I would enter. Well, I was so flattered I said "Really you think I should compete?" I truly felt it was an opportunity to speak about my work on HIV/AIDS and promote the program. Never did I dream that it would become one of the most life changing events in my life.

Well there was not much time to prepare - in two weeks time it would take place. In no time I gathered my best friend Bamby and we did a little remix of a Gloria Estefan song. I went downtown and got some orange fabric, a couple of rhinestones appliqués , through it all together and two weeks later I was in the Riviera casino competing against the most talented performers from all over the United States. I mean these women meant business! The hair and the gowns were amazing. To be honest, I was joking around the whole time having a cocktail and a few cigarettes. Hell, I figured, "What are my chances?" I mean, when Mimi Marks was upside-down, I said "Hell no, she didn't". Just fabulous!

Honey, when I made top 8 I almost peed in my orange jersey dress! I could not believe it. That moment redirected my life in a different direction that I had never envisioned. It gave me a new platform to continue to advocate for women like me. All the women that competed were all amazing. We all had fun and it was a beautiful experience. There was no cattiness. I met some wonderful friends that today are very close to me and dear to my heart.

3. Tell us about your role in Remember Me in Red and how you prepared for that role?

Well, I was contacted by the director, the fabulous Hector Ceballos. He said he had a script he wanted me to read. He said I would be perfect for the role of Alma Flora. I read the script and I knew I had to be Alma Flora. It was like it had been specifically written for me. I went to several auditions and finally was confirmed as the actress to play Alma. I play the role of a transgender activist who, after her death, her family comes from Mexico and despite the community resistance disregard Alma Aloras life and attempt to bury her as a man. Any trace of the woman she was is erased in an instant. It was so challenging for me to be dressed as a man and to be in a coffin. I had to peel away everything about myself to become her. Aside from being nude in the movie, which was not that challenging really, it is my first acting role and I am very prod that I was able to transform my self to be Alma Flora after death. The film is currently premiering in many national film festivals and has won several audience favorite awards.

4. You have a reality show, Wild Things, coming out in the fall. How was that experience?

As I mentioned before, Trantasia was the catalyst for so many beautiful experiences. I was fortunate to meet the wonderful Jeremy Stanford, the director of the documentary Trantasia and the reality TV series Wild Things. He, as well as Chris and Ted Smith, producers of both projects, has taken me on one of the most beautiful, and at times, challenging experiences of my life. Jeremy has always made it a priority to highlight the beauty, uniqueness and personality of each one of us while ensuring we are depicted in a way that is truthful yet respectful. Through his artistry in combining humor and drama he makes sure that the audience gets a sense of who we truly are as women and as human being. Since Trantasia we have remained very close friends and have had many hit and misses developing a show. However the fish out of water journey to change perceptions while showing the humanity of love for someone in need has been the winner.

I must say all three of us, the Wild Girls, have grown as women since the filming of Wild Things. We are so different yet the same. Cassandra and I had our challenges and honey when I say challenges I mean "CHALLENGES!" However, we have become closer. And Tiara, well, she is my dog. You know, like my homie. Filming 12 hours a day in 120 degrees under the sun, smelling cow shit, wearing polyester security guard uniforms in high hells with all that darn hair and trying to be cute and funny... Its not easy honey. This was gorilla type shit doing our makeup on the mirror of our fabulous Winnebago. So I give it to us and the crew cause the Lord knows we were bitchy. Jeremy will tell you its not easy traveling with three trannies in a compact car. Oh, he's got some stories! In a nutshell, it was fabulous!

5. Is your family supportive of you as a transgender woman?

I must admit, at the beginning of my transition we had challenges. I went from being a popular, football jock with a beautiful cheerleader girlfriend in high school to a 6 foot awkward looking woman for years. So there was some resistance. My belief is that my family was afraid that I would not be successful as a woman, however today my brother is my biggest cheerleader. He walked me down the aisle when I was married and my mother threw me the best reception any bride could ask for. My mother is my best friend and I can talk to her about anything without judgment. People have fallen in love with my brother Joe. How could you not? He is one of the kindest human beings and I am so blessed to have him as a big brother. I truly thank God every day for so many beautiful blessings, especially a loving family that loves me just as I am.

6. In the documentary Trantasia, you share that you are married. Are you still married and how are your relationships affected by you being transgender?

Relationships change as much as we change as individuals. The love is always there. I was fortunate to have met someone who took me and loved me with all my flaws. God knows there are many. I am not easy to love as I bring a lot of baggage along with a hot temper and much passion. I have experienced love in a beautiful form. I am not the person he married anymore and our relationship has changed but the love is there and will always be there. We still live together. We are a family. He will always be one of the most beautiful experiences of of my life. I will leave it at that.

7. What do you think is the biggest political issue facing transgender people in the United States?

The small representation of transgender individuals involved in the process of creating or amending current laws affects us tremendously in the political arena. One great example is how, not too long ago, we were excluded from the original version of ENDA - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - by a so-called LGBT organization. In all honesty discrimination against transgender individuals, gays and lesbians will not stop because of a law, however it will give us a recourse to fight back.

The priority must be to ensure the protection under the law of our right to provide for ourselves the basic needs of any human being; food, shelter and medical care.

This brings me to another topic. Sex work. Many trans and non trans individuals are disgusted by the usual depiction of hopeless tranny sex workers in the media, stating that this is shameful and not an accurate depiction of trans women. But the reality is that the tranny sex worker really does represent a huge segment of trans women all over the world, many whom are women of color. Some will argue that this is by choice, however that statement does not reflect the lack of variety in choices, especially for transgender youth. Many sell their bodies for just enough to eat and might not have a place to rest their head.

In all honesty, it is disappointing to witness this lack of empathy from own community. We are one community; from the beautiful to the unattractive, passable to the truck driver-looking girl. And, of course, lets not forget the glamorized but also stereotypical twirling girl making it rain dollar bills, while lip singing to our popular songs.

We need to stop looking towards each other as "those people" and get involved to ensure that educational access and resources are available for all trans women so that we can move toward a future for women with higher education, degrees and skills levels that will translate to successful carriers. This also needs to be supported by laws that protect us against discrimination in the work place because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

8. Do you believe Latina transgender people are treated different than white or African-American transgender people?

Culture and where we come from always plays a role in how we are perceived and sometimes treated. I believe that the issues that affect the transgender community crosses ethnicities and truly doesn't differentiate because of race or ethnicity. However, language barriers can be a huge disadvantage for many recent immigrants from Latin America. This will also be an added factor to issues dealing with treatment and discrimination of Latina transgender people.

I do see a difference among women of color and white women when it comes to decisions regarding time of transition. Women of color tend to transition at a very young age without many resources, while many white women transition later in life once they have established themselves financially as men. I am yet to come to an understanding of why this is so prevalent but I can only assume that culture and environment are major influences in this decision process.

9. Can you tell us about your work in the HIV community?

I began doing HIV/AIDS prevention work because I had seen how the virus had devastated my community and friends. The community was being infected and affected by the virus, however there was a lack of representation of women who were transgender. Funding has always been a huge concern and one of the main issues when it comes to HIV prevention and the lack of programs that were in existence for transgender women. A study in early 2000 reflected a 22% rate of infection among transgender women in Los Angeles County. This was alarming. As a community we had to make sure that we were at the table when funding decisions were being made. I am fortunate to be part of a generation that is not just sitting back but getting involved in ensuring that our health and well being are part of the discussion. I care about my community. I care about their health. The reality is that HIV/AIDS continues to devastate lives and its preventable, so the fight continues.

10. If you could send any message out to our younger gay community regarding STD's and HIV, what would you say?

I can't emphasize enough that HIV/AIDS is preventable. There are resources and tools in place to assist us in making informed decisions and take care of our sexual health. Utilize them. Attend support groups. Be informed about your bodies and how important it is to use protection when engaging in any type of sexual activity. It only takes one time. Do not use your instincts as a guide to gauge who is safe or not. You cant tell if someone has HIV because of how they dress or how they look. Get tested and always use a condom. Its your life. Protect it!

11. What message would you send out to our younger transgender or questioning community members regarding their own transformation?

I would say that you hold the key to what kind of man or woman you want to be. The beauty of our lives is that we define our selves by a true sense of self. Even though the journey will not be easy, the reward of living life as your true self is endless. Many women and men have fought tooth and nail to ensure that we, as a community, are recognized and that change happens that will include equality and acceptance for transgender individuals. Be proud. Get involved. There are so many resources and programs in place. Utilize them. And congratulations for being true to your self!

12. How important do you believe therapy is in the process of gender discovery?

I must admit, even though I could use some therapy I never followed the Harry Benjamin Standards of care which were established as a resource for transitioning and really emphasize the need for therapy among other steps that are helpful in transitioning.

I come from a generation when we had no internet and Juanita the neighbor, usually a transgender women in her 40s, was giving hormones shots for 5 bucks next store (Perlutal). And your therapy was the transgender that had pump silicone parties at her house while she told you what your body would look like after 5 sessions.

The resources are there and individuals considering transition should use them and take advantage of them.

13. Who do you think are the three most influential or beautiful transgender women alive today?

Valerie Spencer, an African American woman that gives me chills when she speaks is a true leader in the transgender movement. She is a woman proud to be transgender. Her beauty radiates from within. She is one of the women I look up to and aspire to be like, a true blazer for all of us trans women and men.

Candis Cane. This woman does it all. She sings, acts and does it all while looking ravishing. Her role in Dirty Sexy Money still has people talking. Her one woman show at the Abbey in Los Angeles is without a doubt an act not to miss. I believe we will be seeing much bigger things from Miss Cane. I just love her.

Rupaul. I know many will disagree with me because of a small detail. Rupaul is a drag queen, but, hell, I am too most of the time. I think when it comes to mainstream media she has been one of the most influential gender variant individuals I have seen. Her reinvention with her successful Logo series Rupaul's Drag Race is fabulous! And regardless whether she identifies as trans or not, mainstream America will look at her and at me and categorize us the same. Furthermore, I just love her; so there. She is fabulous!

14. How difficult do you think it is for transgender women who are not physically attractive and struggle looking what we would consider typically feminine?

Well, honey, let me tell you with beauty comes power! I have been the unattractive fat girl that was always told, "Oh you have such a pretty face" to what I am today - somewhat cuter.

Beauty is something we all seek. We are influenced by the media and everything around us. The more attractive and feminine I have become, the easier my day-to-day life has become. However I have spent thousands of dollars to look this cheap! That's not a luxury many have. I look at myself and, not to say I am God's gift to the world, but I can appreciate the blessing I have been given to be able to mold my self from an unhappy young man to the type of woman I always wanted to be - slutty!

Just kidding people! But we as individuals need to define what is beautiful to us. And regardless of how beautiful you are on your exterior, it might sound cliché, but inner beauty is something that cannot be purchased. I am a firm believer that if you can't grow it honey, then sew it - yeah, its weave!

15. Since Alex is from Venezuela, can you give a strong message out to our gay and transgender Latino community in Spanish?

Si se puede. I think we are a strong community with a beautiful diversity and colorful culture to be proud of! Take care of your health and make sure that as a Latino you're involved in ensuring that the issues that affect your community don't fall through the cracks. Y que los quiero mucho y les mando un beso higante xoxoxox....

16. What are five things you always carry with you in your purse?

Well, I should be honest, right? Here we go... makeup - especially eye lash glue. A knife. Just kidding. Perfume. Wallet. Gum; bad breath is such a turn off. And lube. Don't ask; you never know!

17. What do you think it means to be a woman?

Well, as transgender women we have to redefine what womanhood is for us. For years as a young transgender woman I thought that the day I got my breast implants I would be a woman. Well after surgery there was no epiphany. I was treated the same, I felt the same - just with bigger boobs (that I must say are fabulous!). I then realized that my womanhood was not only physical, it always came from within. To be a woman and all it encompasses - self assured, complex, intriguing and full of mystique and allure - takes years. Womanhood is something both genetically born females and transgender woman develop into. I wasn't born female but today I can assure you I have grown into my womanhood.

18. What is the biggest incident of cruelty or discrimination you have ever faced?

A few years back while in Miami at a popular club space, I was the victim of a brutal attack fueled by hate towards what I represented. After my assault, I was further victimized by the officials that were supposed to protect me. I was incarcerated and molested and paraded naked in front of many of the officers in the detention center. It reminded me of how we are all targets of hate. I never thought something like that could happen to me, however we must not be silent.

I contacted Amnesty International and every organization I knew. You can still find information about the incident by just typing my name. One of the saddest days of my life. I will never forget that feeling of hopelessness and anger. Today that experience continues to be my fuel to give myself and women like me a voice because we are here and we are not going anywhere honey!

19. What would you say to a gay or transgender youth who is thinking about running away because their family is not supportive of their life?

I was homeless at the age of 18. I remember being in a strange town sleeping under a park bench and the fear I felt. Those are experiences that have left an imprint on my life because of that one decision. Things turned out okay for me but it's not the case for many youth that leave at such a young age. Seek help. There are resources and support groups that both you and your family can utilize Running away is not always the answer and it sometimes takes us on paths we never thought possible Exhaust every other option before putting yourself at risk without shelter or resources to take care of yourself.

20. If you could only listen to three CD's or musicians for the rest of your life, and they couldn't be mixed, what or who would they be?

Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Sade. So gay of me, huh?

21. You have lost a lot of weight since Trantasia. What inspired this weight loss and how did you do it?

Seeing my big ass as on a huge screen at the Out Fest Film Festival wearing a bright yellow swimsuit was the moment I made the decision. "Oh I have to do something about that ass," I thought. So I began trying to lose weight.

It's been years of struggling with weight and about two months before shooting began for the TV series Wild Things my director, Jeremy Stanford said to me, "Well you know Cassandra Cass is training like an athlete," and laughed so hard. I said, "Oh hell no!" I had already lost some weight, but I cranked up the process. I wanted to make sure that I did not look out of sync with the other two skinny bitches!

In reality, I have made the decision to eat better. It's not easy, but I feel better at this size. I follow a low carb diet and did work out for a few months. However, I have slowed down on the work outs.

22. What are your comments about hormone therapy?

Hormones are the fountain of youth and beauty. Use them with caution but they are the only thing that will help you in going from a frog to a princess, along with some cosmetic adjustment if needed. But honey, in some cases, drastic looks need drastic measures and to soften a rock throw some estrogen at it and it will do the trick. I am living proof of the power of estrogen. Seeking medical advice and supervision is my strong suggestion.

23. Because we always ask...boxers, briefs, jockstraps...or nothing at all?

Boxers are my favorite. They are sexy. Especially the snug kind...if you know what I mean...


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Patricia Harlow Patricia Harlow | July 6, 2010 5:35 PM

Awesome article!, I loved it! Thanks!

I saw Remember Me in Red as part of the Transtastic! shorts program at Frameline. It was easily my favorite film of the night. Maria, Mariana Marroquín and all the cast of the film were great.

I applaud Maria and all the community and AIDs related work she does.

But there are some issues I have with this article:

1) Trantasia and the contest it filmed are full of sh*t. Many of those contestants weren't even transsexuals even though it was called the "world's most beautiful transsexual" contest. Call it what it was... a contest for female impersonators, some of whom ID'd as male drag queens and some were, in some way, trans. Don't appropriate transsexual women's ID as a marketing tool.

2) RuPaul is NOT a transgender woman, on any level, not no way, not no how. Nor does he even ID as transgender. It's like asking which black women do you admire the most and you reply "Hilary Clinton."

3) Maria, beautiful as she is, has had a huge amount of injectable silicone. To me, mentioning someone as being beautiful and curvaceous who has been extensively pumped is not doing the trans community a favor. There are young trans girls who will follow this path and die due to being pumped or end up with silicone migration in their bodies, granulomas, arthritis and even cancers. To not mention this fact anywhere in the story is not being responsible nor valuing the health of trans women.

Personally (and I know this is wrong of me), I had a lot of trouble taking anything after the opening, "Well, honey..." seriously (right or wrong, I hear RuPaul's intonation).

We all have our own way of being I suppose, and I have never seen any of her live performances, so I don't know how she really is, but throughout this interview she comes across to me as more of an over-the-top entertainer than as someone who takes herself seriously as a woman. She really seems more like a female impersonator acting in character than as a real person. Is this just her personality?

(waits for flames or violation of TOS)

I'm not sure if that's totally fair to say of Ms. Roman, but I will say that it's the only kind of trans woman many (not all) gay men bother with. If they don't look uber femme, draggy and "fabulous" then much of the gay population (and gay media) isn't interested in them. They're trying to apply much of the same b.s. lookist behavior they do in their own community and apply it to trans women.

There are many different kinds of trans women and I'll be the first to admit that we don't always have much in common. Maria is who she is, her body is her own and that's none of my business.

gina said:

"There are many different kinds of trans women and I'll be the first to admit that we don't always have much in common. Maria is who she is, her body is her own and that's none of my business."

Yes, I agree. I guess I just have the same problem with her that I have with some cis-women who play into some of the stereotypes of the 'out-there' girl. Though I guess we all have a right to our own way of being, as a pretty heavy feminist, I just wince at them, and this girl kinda falls into a similar category for me relative to trans women.

It's definitely an act. Put certain transgender women in front of a camera or in front of gay men and you can see them kick into it, like a reflex action. Only speaking for myself, I find it a real tired and kind of pathetic but they obviously get something out it.

Thank you for giving . . . "me the courage to feel my feelings, and to feel my feelings about my feelings, and my feelings about my feelings about my feelings."

I think I will save that up, for the moment, though. Too personal, you know? Just makes me wonder about C J Parker and why Pamela didn't get the role in the new movie.

"I deserve good things, I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with."

-Stuart Smalley - Daily Affirmations.

You know I do deserve good things but it can be so frustrating, damn it! Just makes me think. Thanks for such a thoughtful AND thought provoking piece.

Out of curiosity, I wonder if these two interviewers would have bothered interviewing Ms. Roman if they didn't think she looked "fabulous"?

Peter and Alex tend to interview celebrities who are of interest to the LGBT community. I'm sure they'd love to have your suggestions on who else would be good choices for them to interview. Their previous interviews have been drag queens, porn stars, and reality show contestants.

Well, so all their subjects are pretty over-the-top ppl, sounds like. I went back and read the interview again, trying to avoid the lens I first approached it with, and Ms. Norman has some great things to say about HIV/AIDS, the oppressed status of trans ppl, and so forth. To me it just got lost in all the 'I got myself pumped full of silicon and all sorts of other risky things to achieve a bigger-than-life look'.

And just a gentle little poke, in this context, does 'the LGBT cummunity' really mean 'the gay male community'? If so, that is fine, everything anyone in the GLBT community does shouldn't have to be targeted to every single person in the community, but if this is, maybe should just accept that? It doesn't hurt *my* feelings any, that is for sure. But really, it does seem like they are looking for someone entertaining to gay men, rather than someone who is a role model for trans people (and as I said, that is fine with me!) And I have to say, with all my body issues and issues with being accepted as a woman, and not a 'man in a dress', drag queens aren't really people I find entertaining (not trying to deny Ms. Norman her womanhood, it is just that she says herself that she is playing the role of a drag queen a lot of the time).

Respectfully,

Carol :)

"And just a gentle little poke, in this context, does 'the LGBT community' really mean 'the gay male community'?"


Carol... I'm assuming you already know the answer to that one. It's the G...l, b, (teeny-tiny) t.

No, was a real question. I dont know anything about these guys, or what their target audience is, so I was really asking. I rarely ask questions to make a point, or if I do, I explicitly follow the question *with* my point. I am truly keeping an open mind about their intent, and like I said, if it is to feature entertainers who are popular with the gay male community, I don't have a problem with that. I just somehow thought the article was coming from a different perspective, is all. And I should have read it without that preconceived notion to see what it really was about.

While I haven't seen Transtasia or anything else she's in, Maria sounds like someone I'd love to get to know better. RuPaul not IDing as trans aside, she has some very insightful and smart things to say here. Silicone and other high risk behavior is a reality for some people and I for one feel that I benefit from hearing more about those experiences.

Actually, I have read the interview for about the fifth time now, and I think I was wrong about Ms. Roman. She is quite interesting, and has a lot of smart things to say. I just had a really hard time separating her from her 'celebrity' personna as a person, much like I do Pamela Sue Anderson (or whatever her current name is). On the other hand, I kinda get the impression that Ms. Roman has the same trouble herself.

As far as the silicon/high-risk behavior goes, I agree that lots of ppl are in desparate circumstances and have to do what it takes to survive. I am not sure that I see the connection between survival and an extreme body, though. I don't know anything about her beyond this article, maybe she used that to make her living, like Pam Anderson? If so, that is her choice, it is her body, but she does seem to minimize the risks, and it still bothers me to see women play into leering male fantasies, unless they are subverting those in some way.

Toby, talking about pumping silicone, sex work and high risk behavior is important. But mentioning them in a shallow, glossy, celeb-centric interview isn't an honest discussion.

Have a serious discussion about serious issues. Is the health, safety and futures of young trans women NOT worth dealing with in a serious manner? Are they only here for the entertainment of gay and straight men? Calling someone who's pumped a lot of silicone beautiful and curvacious without mentioning the dangerous behavior which goes with it is irresponsible.

It's like interviewing a model how wonderfully skinny she is without going into her eating disorders and her two-pack a day smoking habit and then trying to present it to young girls as someone worth emulating. I don't buy it.

Peter Monn and Alex Paredes Peter Monn and Alex Paredes | July 7, 2010 5:06 PM

First of all, we would like to say thank you for all of the comments which have been posted. It is always refreshing to read comments by readers on all of the sites where we write, to help us see our writing from another perspective and to continue to educate us on the issues we find interesting.

That being said, we interview people who we find interesting, not just people interesting to the LGBT community. raannt is a "social" blog and we are gossip columnists so we find that we tend to interview more celebrities because we find them interesting and provocative. Sometimes we do not even realize how we are impacting the world around us and this was recently seen at Indy Pride.

We were approached by a Trans woman who thanked us for our blog and our interviews, stating that she appreciated that we were bringing much needed attention to the trans community. She stated she is a fan of raannt on facebook even though she has deleted several of her friends and family. We took our picture with her and it was, literally, a shining moment of our weekend. Later that night, we were approached by several people who told us that now that we have a voice in the gay community we needed to do something positive with it.

Honestly, we've never thought of it that way. raannt started as a fun idea, and since we loved watching drag, we started interviewing drag queens/transsexuals in the limelight. The more we interview people and get to know people in our community, the human community, we realize that there are many different facets to even our diverse groups. We would love to interview anyone that has a point of view to educate the world, but we can't interview everyone, obviously. We also interviewed Cassandra Cass and Erica Andrews, both also on Trantasia(which can be found on raannt).

While we will continue to conduct interviews that are celebrity driven and interesting, by no means feel that we feel these people are spokespeople for any community, just like the gay male porn stars are not spokespeople for all gay men. We have also interviewed our share of straight and bisexual people. We just like...people. Our goal would be to bring all of us together and try to live life with a little more kindness and a lot more fun.

So please, enjoy the interviews we do, but understand they probably belong more in a People Magazine type section than the Huffington Post. And anyone interested in being interviewed, please let us know...we loved to continue to be educated daily.

Much love...the boys of raannt

"We also interviewed Cassandra Cass and Erica Andrews, both also on Trantasia(which can be found on raannt)."


In other words, your representation of the trans community is people who do female impersonation. Be honest, that's the only part of our community which interests you. You don't just like... people, you like people which conform to a certain standard of look and behavior which fit your assumptions about us, and that's my issue with how your represent trans people. As long as large sections of the gay community continue to picture trans women solely through a drag lens, your intentions will be mistrusted by many of us. There's your education... but I doubt you're actually open to it. :-(

Miss Maria Roman Herself | July 7, 2010 11:42 PM

I will only add a few things... I am beautiful manufacture by many but content with whom i am and the extreme measures i have had to go to look the way I do... personality is over the top and if to many or any that represents a drag queen so be it... my mother is a draqueen too I act just like her... I say honey a lot and fuck occasionally... I behave in this manner all the time its not a persona i am creating... can be annoying to many but it is what it is...I carry a proud flag that's scream transgender... life has tough me that i could choose to be delusional and speak in a soft voice and join groups that are for woman whom are stealh, wear no makeup...or just a dab of lip gloss... wear flats and neutral colors HELL NO however after years of much hardship I am going to live my life as the over the top,,, heavy makeup pumped full of silicone tranny i am... to think that the women that were in trantasia were impersonating transsexuals or transgender really highlights one of the points i made in my interview your one of the those people WHO COMPARES HER SELF TO OTHER TO DETERMINE IF THEY MEET YOUR STANDARDS OF WHAT A TRANNY IS.... RIDICULOUS... PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SELF IDENTIFY AS THEY CHOOSE NOT YOU... Raupaul is someone who i trully admire... call her what you want she don;t care...

I am supriesed by some of the comments... however respect your opinion even though might not agree with you... I represent woman who can identify with me cause i am transgeder... however i cant represent all from the short that's not me the skinny well hell that truly aint me,,, the passable (not) the manly looking one... well

i am the over the top blonde weave wearing huge ass makeup wearing gurl if you can relate amen... if to you i am one of them well God bless ya...
I tell ya if I am walking down the street with Rupaul and a hate inspired bigot attacks us... they will hit her with the same force they will hit me... I love human beings and focus on our similarities not our differences...

finally remember your comments should inspire not make others feel bad.. . why say something if its not to improve what it already been said..

MUCH LOVE TO YOU ALL HONEYS XOXOXO

Maria,

1) I respect you for the AIDS and community support work you've done. I also respect you asking that the interview be about more important issues... good for you. I'm not against you. And I also support you in trying to get justice for what happened to you in Florida, that was disgusting and the "law enforcement officials" should be made to pay their actions.

2) It's my understanding a number of the participants in Transtasia don't live as women 24/7. It's a fact that one of the participants said on Tyra that they are a man who is a female impersonator and wants to be buried as a man. The organizers of that pageant didn't really try to find "the world's most beautiful transsexual" they invited a bunch of female impersonators (some of whom were also trans) to participate. There are lots and lots of beautiful trans women who don't participate in female impersonation pageants or do drag. I am sick and tired of people who do/live drag- drag-drag as supposedly representing beauty in our community. It's one stylized look... there are many. But all gay media wants is over-the-top drag and that's insulting.

Live and look as you want, as I said it's your body, your life. But I'm not going to have some gay man telling me that's what beautiful trans women look like. There's a big world out there, away from the female impersonator beauty pageants, gay discos and the drag clubs. If the rest of us aren't worth finding out about, then scr*w them.

3) I don't call other trans women "trannies" ever. Period. You want to call yourself a tranny... it's absolutely your right to do so. But if you refer to other trans women my that term I'm not going to respect you for doing it.

4) If there's so much respect for Candis Cayne (another trans woman who's stuck in dragland and dancing around for gay men's entertainment) then how come they couldn't even be bothered to correctly spell her name in the story?

5) Of all the transgender women you could have mentioned to admire, to say RuPaul (who is not a "she") is really an insult. RuPaul has made a number of statements which are nasty and dismissive towards trans women, and has supported racist drag comic Chuck Knipp. There are lots of people who would be attacked walking down the street, so what? You were asked about "transgender women" (nor does RuPaul walk down the street in drag, he has said he only does it for the money.)

Miss Maria,

You are definitely a remarkable woman! The more I read your interview, the more I believe that. :)

I admire and respect you for many reasons. The trans community has vastly different ppl, identities, and expressions, and there is room for us all, I feel. You took me by surprise, because we seem to fall on pretty much the opposite ends of the spectrum, and I had trouble wrapping my head around the difference. I wish you well in whatever direction your life takes.

One thing, though. I hope that as you are interacting with young ppl, that you tell them of the dangers of many things that you have done, so they have informed choice.

Carol :)

On further reflection, I would have to say The concept of gender performativity is at the core. Irritability implies that 'performance' is not a singular 'act' or event. Does drag have to do with the proliferation of genders? Or, is this about heterosexual regimes and failed heteronormative ideals?

I don't know. Is performativity more about context and illocutionary force? How are we to judge the motivations of anyone, performers or not, engaged in mediums where it is the medium that becomes the message? How are we to make culturally intelligible Trantasia or Baywatch, for that matter. Should a book be judged by its cover?

As Judith Butler points out, "there is a ‘one’ who is prior to gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe . . . [(1993). "Critically Queer". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies]. A "one" who exists prior to deciding what role that "one" will play today.

I will finish by reminding all who may think otherwise, that Pamela Anderson, herself, describes such a "one" and why that "one" was attracted to the role of Casey Jean:

"Pamela was immediately attracted to the role because of the "New Age thinking" that she shared with the character - including an interest in crystals, meditation, and dream interpretation. For example: in the Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding reunion movie, C.J. Parker reveals her biggest interest is in meditation."

I read that in Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._J._Parker

Just one question left. Why are not all anit-discrimination cases premised directly on the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment?

Peter Monn and Alex Paredes Peter Monn and Alex Paredes | July 7, 2010 10:46 PM

I feel as if I need to personally reply to these comments, just because I find this discussion so interesting. First of all, after we contacted Maria Roman, she sent us the following message regarding the questions and content of the interview: "IF YOU COULD MAKE THE QUESTIONS MORE ABOUT THE SOCIAL ISSUES FOR TRANSWOMAN...BEAUTY AND ENTERTAINMENT ARE FAB BUT MY TRUE PASSION IS TO INFLUENCE CHANGE FOR MY COMMUNITY NOT TO DENY THE STRUGGLES AND LACK OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE MAYORITY OF WOMEN" If you have actually SEEN Trantasia, you would know that, yes it is a beauty pageant, but Maria Roman is one contestant that doesn't fit the norm. She discusses her transition, her marriage and her HIV outreach work. This was the reason we felt it necessary to contact her, because we believed she was first an entertainer, who we usually interview, and second and activist.

Speaking of Pamela Anderson...she is a HUGE spokesperson for PETA. She is constantly interviewed because of her fame, which brings positive attention to the world of animal lovers. All I'm saying is maybe we need to come together first and not be divided by what we don't agree on if we're going to present ourselves to the rest of the world as a group.

When I was probably 12 years old, I watched an episode of Oprah or some show with my mother about trans women and was captivated. My mother, being highly educated and always willing to further my education, went to the library and brought me the book Conundrum by Jan Morris; a classic of Trans literature. I later saw the movie. And that same year I met Renee Richards at the Clay Courts Tennis Championship. Needless to say, I was being offered positive images of trans people.

I myself am not Trans personally, but it is an issue which is extremely interesting to me and I constantly look for further education. When I stated, "Anyone interested in being interviewed please let us know, we love to continue to be educated" I was being sincere. And don't ever turn down the opportunity to educate someone in a positive way. Life offers us teaching experiences daily which could change positively your life or the life of others.

That being said, re-read the interview. Maria is sarcastic in talking about silicone, it is obvious that she does not support this habit. She discusses discrimination, STD and HIV prevention, messages to younger trans women, POSITIVE encouragement to younger trans women, political issues of trans women and diversity of trans women. While you don't have to agree with everything she said, try to find some solace that someone is trying to help us get a voice. I might not love Ellen Degeneres or designer Marc Jacobs, which in fact I do, but they are bringing positive international attention to the marriage rights for all, probably an issue many bible belt people had never even been presented with before.

I got sober when I was 22 and for years before I also said that no one could help me that wasn't an addict because they didn't understand. Well frankly, that's just crap. My therapist Anna was unbelievable and continues to be an inspiration today. I wouldn't have been sober for over 15 years if it wasn't for her and she never came close to being an alcoholic or an addict. But she had empathy and she yearned to be educated. Please give people that opportunity.

Saying that we pick the topics we do to because we are gay men and are meeting "gay men's culture" is, honestly, derogatory and oppressive. Obviously you haven't looked at our site. Our goal is trying to bring everyone closer together instead of separating each other. Maria is fun, and we didn't pick her as a political figure. And I'd interview her 10 times over, because, maybe she'll hit the nerve of some trans kid out there that doesn't think she's any good, but relates to her story. And if that makes one bit of difference, than something positive has come from our interview.

We definitely didn't think this interview would be picked to shreds, but we were warned. Our goal is just to come closer together and love one another, as individuals part of a bigger group.

One last thing to ponder...a quote by Jan Morris, the trans women who authored Conundrum, ""In a Kenya game park once I saw a family of wart-hogs waddling ungainly and in a tremendous hurry across the grass. Contemptuous though I am of those who find animals comic…still I could not help laughing at this quaint spectacle. My African companion rightly rebuked me. “You should not laugh at them,” he said. “They are beautiful to each other."!

Shalom and may we love each other and find beauty in each other as well!

Peter Monn/the boys of raannt

"When I stated, "Anyone interested in being interviewed please let us know, we love to continue to be educated"


So you've been exposed to Renee Richards and Jan Morris (both of which were news from 35 years ago!!!) and the only people you can name to interview from the trans community are 3 women who do female impersonation professionally, have all been pumped and have a pretty intense drag persona? What's YOUR responsibility as part of the Glbt to seek out people from the trans community? Why do you have to be so passive about who you interview from the very wide and varied world of trans people? If you really have respect for us, then get off your asses, actually learn about who we are since we're supposedly part of your coalition.

Yeah, you've pretty much covered the "trans woman who still IDs as a drag queen" segment of the trans community... where are you next going with this and what are YOU going to do to break out of your mold? You saying these are the only people you could imagine to interview from all the trans people out there is, quite frankly derogatory and offensive... and I'm not dissing Maria when I say that, this is about you, not her.

Guys,

I finally got time to take a look at your site! And, it is, as you say, an entertainment site, not a policial or advocacy site. Though, really, it is hard to separate one thing from the others--by spotlighting various gay ppl in a positive, accepting light, you are also (hopefully) making the folks you feature less foreign. It is obvious that you are excited about your site, and about the people and topics that you feature.

I am sorry that I had a stern reaction to the interview at first. It took me a while to understand your perspective, as I am more used to seeing articles on Bilerico that are more heavily oriented toward the political or advocacy perspective.

Best of wishes,

Carol :)

Peter Monn and Alex Paredes Peter Monn and Alex Paredes | July 8, 2010 2:53 PM

Bil is probably pulling his eyelashes out as he reads my comments, so I must first apologize to Bil...but I must comment, sorry! Love ya Bil! This comment is directly to Gina. We are not trans, have never been trans and it is not our political issue to support or educate. While we love being educated, we have NO, as you state, responsibility to the GLBT community to seek out specific trans people to interview. We are GOSSIP columnists and ENTERTAINMENT writers...that's what we do. If you don't like it...don't read it! We have no intention of breaking out of this mold.

THAT being said, a true writer, as you obviously are not, does NOT misquote other people's writings. We never said that these were the ONLY trans women we could find. They were who we wanted to interview, because WE found them interesting. If you knew how difficult it was to locate and contact celebrities to interview through their publicists and agents, you would realize we are not passive whatsoever. We just aren't and educational or political blog. Make sure you don't misquote us again.

Beauty, to me, is defined by what people have on the inside and the outside. We offered one example of this. We also interviewed the comedienne Glozell who happens to be African American. Never once did we get a comment stating that we didn't "represent" fairly the African American community. It's ridiculous.

We've now asked on two separate occasions for you to supply us with a name of someone to interview. If you want us to "get off our asses" and it's so important for you that we do the right thing, help us out. Or maybe, just maybe, you'd rather stay isolated and angry in your own perception of what a trans world should be.

Frankly, I don't care. We enjoy doing what we do and we'll continue to do it. Bad press is good press and at least people are reading it and getting exposed, whether they like it or agree with it or not. Maybe you should visit our site and you'll get an idea of what we're about and then this interview won't surprise you. We interview celebrities...period!

I've done my research and visited yours. Lovely article on Candy Darling. In the future, make sure you move out of your glass house before throwing stones...

What does GloZell have to do with this? If the ONLY three black people you ever interviewed were clones of one another then, yes, you might start having black people being suspicious about where you're coming from.

Just to clarify... Cassandra Cass... not a "celebrity" (or, at least, only a celebrity by virtue of your interest in her).

As I stated, you're only interested in trans people who fit the "drag" mold, and you're absolutely right you're going to go on doing it because you enjoy it. And I'm going to continue pointing out how gay media which narrowcasts trans experiences to fit their own gay fantasies and entertainment desires in this way are NOT our friends.

No, I'm not going to mention names for you because you NEED to get off your overly-tanned ass and take our community seriously. No one is saying you need to suddenly write an academic or activist column about trans people, but there are trans people who are writers, musicians, singers, race car drivers, inventors, dancers, producers, actors and filmmakers. Yes, some of us do more than dance around for the pleasure of gay men so you can give a us dollar. And I'd rather live in a glass house where I can see out than walk around with entitled blinders on.

I don't think you're bad guys, I don't think you're the enemy, but I really DON'T think you get it.

Thank you for reading the Beautiful Darling review.

Same problem where I live in the UK. The gay guys only see us as objects to shag or wank over and the cis-lesbians just see us as men regardless of where on the spectrum of gender expression things may lie.

Miss Leveaux | July 8, 2010 7:03 PM

Hey! Being post-op and having been in the so called t-community for a number of years myself, I thought it was a great interview and it made me realize there's much more to Maria Roman than I originally had thought after watching Trantasia. To Maria: Go Girl, you're awesome!

That's a lot of interview. I've never seen Trantasia before!

I respect Gina and the points she's making, but wish to note something that we need to remember: the language is changing / has changed, and not everyone will be versed in the vernacular of now.

Even so much as a few years ago, those of us who transition outside of the drag and/or porn circuits would disappear in stealth and were almost unknown. Words were used almost interchangeably without any clear definitions (we're still just arriving at some uneasy consensus of our own).

I think it's important to mention, because it still also happens that transfolk attack each other in our own community, and largely because the contexts in which we came into self-awareness has differed, as has the resulting language we've all developed to describe and define ourselves.

Just some perspective for the debate.

Mercedes, I appreciate evolution in language and labels, but the people involved clearly identify as male, not as women identified. I am also aware there are trans women who do both female impersonation and drag and that's to whom not who I'm referring. What I'm talking about it a clear appropriation by both the beauty contest's producers and the filmmakers of the term "transsexual" because they thought it sold better than "female impersonator."

Mercedes, I appreciate evolution in language and labels, but the people involved clearly identify as male, not as women identified. I am also aware there are trans women who do both female impersonation and drag and that's to whom not who I'm referring. What I'm talking about it a clear appropriation by both the beauty contest's producers and the filmmakers of the term "transsexual" because they thought it sold better than "female impersonator."

Whoops... should read:

"I am also aware there are trans women who do both female impersonation and drag and that's not who I'm referring to. What I'm talking about is a clear appropriation by both the beauty contest's producers and the filmmakers of the term "transsexual" because they thought it sold better than "female impersonator."

I read a post this morning at someone's blog who was very critical of the commenters on this thread. It wasn't as though she didn't have a point. I think many of Gina's criticisms are well founded, however.

We definitely didn't think this interview would be picked to shreds, but we were warned.

There are certain aspects to "nip and tuck" that have implications for transsexual people where authenticity is concerned. This post happened within a context that has little to do with Maria, personally. Did you inform Maria that not all the feedback on what YOU might be focused on, not Maria, might meet with criticism?

Some pretty insulting things were said about the commenters here at the blog I went to this morning. I won't argue with the fact that I might probably benefit from certain surgeries. Why should I feel that pressure, though? Why should any woman? Does one have to be judgmental to point out similarities to shows like Baywatch and what a show like Trantasia promote, the way it has been described? I haven't seen it. I don't have any interest in it. I don't watch that much T V.

But, what is wrong with making comparisons between women of transsexual experience and women like Pamela Anderson? The question is about stereotyping. There are certain similarities that can be pointed out among women who are focused on body image. Pointing that out is not the same as making a judgement on it. One does not have to make a statement by pointing out similarities that are obvious to anyone. A new can of worms could be opened if I gave my opinion of how I feel about those who are exotic and erotic and how much control they have over their situation. I don't want to go there. As far as Pamela Anderson and the ads she has done for PETA, however, I don't think you will find unanimity among feminist bloggers about how much she has done for promoting positive images of women.

edith said:

"As far as Pamela Anderson and the ads she has done for PETA, however, I don't think you will find unanimity among feminist bloggers about how much she has done for promoting positive images of women."

This was my point about Pam Anderson, but you made it much better. :)

From what I understand, she is a warm, friendly, caring person. But I have a lot of trouble separating the damage I feel she has done to women from her as a person.

Peter Monn and Alex Paredes Peter Monn and Alex Paredes | July 9, 2010 3:39 AM

We have enjoyed reading these comments and thank you for the positive and critical comments as we have learned from them both.

Gina...Just one small comment. In the future, if you're going to try and get people to understand that being transgendered is not about "wearing makeup", as your blog presents, and it is not about outward appearance...then maybe you shouldn't be part of what you so vehemently hate. By attacking us..."get off of your overly tanned ass", you became exactly what you became exactly what you hate; someone who judges and condemns based on outward appearance. I have no problem being called overly tanned, but by making that statement, you sounded ignorant, angry and little.

You have attacked us from the beginning and more power to you. I'm not really sure why you're so angry because you have an entire blog dedicated to trans issues. You've already attacked Maria Roman and Trantasia on the blog, I've read the post. Your comments dating back months are the same ones you wrote here. You have no new material so you go for the jugular.

We are gay and we are media...but we are not gay media. There is a difference. We owe you nothing yet we have asked to be educated, and you have attacked. That is your loss, not ours. Because what you have proved is that we would rather be around drag queens and beautiful trans women, then a bitter 50 something post op who maybe, just maybe, has some image issues. Just saying...

When I was in high school I was called names by straight kids who didn't know any better, and I stayed silent. When I began working in a hospital I tolerated gay ignorance, and I stayed silent. As I age and grow, I hope only to continue to be educated and accepted, if not by the world, than at least by my own community.

You should be ashamed.

Keep in mind that what I said elsewhere buys levity (moreso if one is trans than not) - not a free pass.

BTW, I don't think that changing the interviewee would make as much difference as rethinking how questions are selected and framed.

Mercedes said:

"BTW, I don't think that changing the interviewee would make as much difference as rethinking how questions are selected and framed."

I dunno, Mercedes. After reading the interview objectively (took quite a few run-throughs), I found a lot to like and admire. Just to help get an objective look, I edited the entire interview to produce something I consider very close to a really solid advocacy interview. I meant to post that in my comments, but it was far too long--I found that I only removed four (of 23) questions, and left quite a lot of the text of the responses.

For me, once I removed some of the stuff that came across to me as bravado (I realize that Maria prolly considers this a part of her that is important), what was left was something I considered really sane and sound advice and analysis.

FWIW,

Carol :)

"Because what you have proved is that we would rather be around drag queens and beautiful trans women, then a bitter 50 something post op who maybe, just maybe, has some image issues. Just saying..."


You proved that already long before you 'met' me, haha. But you're right that no one needed me to point it out, it was already painfully obvious that you only care about trans people where they meet your entertainment and aesthetic needs. So much for "community".

I repeat, get off your asses and learn about the full range of trans people (not just the ones you find pretty/entertaining/draggy enough)... we're not here to educate you.

ina,

At least Peter and Alex consider Maria and the others trans women to be women. In a recent post by a regular contributor, a picture was shown of a couple of men dressed as women (no way to tell how they identified), along with a couple of cis women, titled according to your fave misidentification:

Trans men & women together: VIntage photo

http://www.bilerico.com/2010/07/trans_men_and_women_together_vintage_photo.php

It seems in my experience, most cis-folks, however well-intended, see trans ppl as how they were identified at birth and raised. So to me, it seems that at least these guys are trying, in their own way.

FWIW,

Carol :)

i agree completely. well done Maria.

GENIALES TUS PALABRAS, MARIAROMAN !
Independientemente de si se está a favor o en contra de los gays, tu contribución a la difusión de lo latino es sencillamente espectacular !

Felicitaciones a Peter Monn y a Alex Paredes, por las acertadas preguntas.

All of you haters need to back the F*** off of Maria. She is not only flawless but one of the best looking Females in history...and on top of all of that she has a heart and has done more for people with AIDs and transgender-ed "angels" who are out on the street trying to make a living the only way they know how ...with their bodies.

So until you look as good or has done as much as Lady Maria...in the words of Fergie "Take Yo Broke Ass Home"