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Gender Euphoria, Episode 9: On Being a 'Trans Trailblazer'

With Scott Turner Schofield

Nicolas Shannon Savard: Hello, and welcome to Gender Euphoria, the podcast. I'm your host, Nicholas Shannon Savard. My pronouns are they, them, and theirs. For today's episode, I sat down with award-winning actor, writer, consultant, and educator Scott Turner Schofield. Scott Turner Schofield was dubbed a trans trailblazer by many a media outlet after being cast in The Bold and the Beautiful in 2015, becoming the first openly trans actor to play a major recurring role on daytime television and the first trans man to be nominated for an Emmy Award for his acting in Studio City in 2020. A multimedia version of his on- man show special Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps premiered in the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and was a special event at Outfest 2020. Behind the scenes, Schofield works as a consultant on HBO's hit show Euphoria and partnering with GLAD and IATSE, has vetted trans-affirmative policy for the union and has educated thousands of crew members in onset sensitivity.

However, I'd be remiss not to acknowledge the career that Schofield cultivated for himself as an actor before Hollywood's transgender tipping point. Since 2002, Scott has been writing and touring three solo performances: Underground Transit, Debutante Balls, and Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps. Making roles for himself while trans and gender nonconforming actors were excluded from mainstream casting. These works toured the U.S. and Europe for well over a decade with the support of the National Performance Network and the Princess Grace Foundation USA.

In our discussion, we trouble this idea of the trans trailblazer since Ascot notes, trans actors were indeed carving out spaces to make and support one another's art long before we were invited into Hollywood or into mainstream theatre spaces. We talk about the shifts that he has noticed in responses from audiences over the course of the last twenty years and how those are in direct conversation with national politics. The conversation really blends the local and the national, the personal and the political, steps forward in trans representation and intra-community tension in a nuanced way. I really enjoyed talking with Scott and I hope you'll enjoy our discussion.

Rebecca Kling: Gender euphoria is...

Dillon Yruegas: Bliss.

siri gurudev: Freedom to experience—

Dillon: Yeah, bliss.

siri: masculinity, femininity, and everything in between—

Azure D. Osborne-Lee: Getting to show up—

siri: without any other thought than my own pleasure.

Azure: as my full self.

Rebecca: Gender euphoria is opening the door to your body and being home.

Dillon: Mmm. Unabashed bliss.

Joshua Bastian Cole: You can feel it. You can feel the relief.

Azure: Feel safe.

Cole: And the sense of validation—

Azure: Celebrated

Cole: —or actualization.

Azure: Or sometimes it means

Rebecca: being confident in who you are.

Azure: But also, to see yourself reflected back.

Rebecca: Or maybe not but being excited to find out.

Nicolas: All right. Welcome back to Gender Euphoria the podcast. I am here with Emmy-nominated actor, writer, longtime trans advocate, Scott Turner Schofield. And today we are going to talk a bit about his career as a performer and activist, educator, and a whole bunch of other things. So to start us off, I would like to talk a little bit about, I mean, you've come into the limelight fairly recently in Hollywood, but long before all that, you had already really carved out a space for yourself as a solo performer in the theatre. Could you tell us the story of how you found that particular path into solo performance?

Scott Turner Schofield: Yeah. Well, there just was no other path. And first I want to say, thank you so much for having me. This is cool. And I really, I just appreciate being included. It's still something that we should appreciate. There was a long time which we're going to get into about not being included for being trans. But also now that there's so much interest in trans work, those of us who have been doing this for a long time often are shunted aside for the shiny new things, so I appreciate the attention and the focus on my work. And yeah, I got into this because there was no other way. All I wanted to do was be an actor. I studied theatre at Emory University and it had great little theatre program. I was getting As in all my classes. I loved the work.

And the theatre studies program at Emory is connected to a professional theatre company. And so they do a number of professional productions throughout year, and I just couldn't get cast in any of them because my gender expression was different. I wasn't an ingenue. I wasn't feminine enough. I wasn't masculine enough. One could fall into thinking I wasn't enough, but my grades and my passion and my experience really belied that, so. And my professors noticed it. And I actually just got done saying to actually some students at my high school that I just talked with, that back then people didn't know how to be transphobic in the ways that they do now. Back then it was actually, not to say that they weren't transphobic, but they were differently transphobic. And I had to say I didn't experience transphobia at all. What I experienced were professionals who recognized that it was unfair that someone like me just did not exist in the canon.

And so when I started my transition, it was also around the time when spoken word was really huge back in 2000. And I wrote these kind of spoken word pieces that needed costumes, because of course I needed to perform. And I turned that into my first one man show, which was called Underground Transit, and that was my honors thesis. And to their credit, the department gave me a full production by myself because that was the only way that I was going to have the professional experience that my theatre program promised everyone of having a really big role to take on and learn how to do. And then there was luck. The timing of that was such that students who were, it was sort of right at that period where winter break was starting for some schools but hadn't for others. And so there were a bunch of students who were home for winter break and they came to see me. And by the time spring break rolled around, I already had a tour.

And so I started touring and because I was in that higher education LGBTQ thing that was just really nascent at that time, it was an easy network to follow. So I started doing a lot of colleges, actually. And then I went to a gathering in 2002 called Alternate ROOTS, which is a Southern regional performance-based people who are also connected with social justice. And I performed there and they loved it and they're connected to the National Performance Network. And so everybody was like, "Oh, yes. This would be perfect for NPN." And so it just kind of almost like an avalanche in that way, it just kept rolling.

Which was interesting because there really wasn't too much being done, I was not in any way the first. I was not in any way even a trailblazer. There were a lot of people who were doing this work, but this was before the internet was what it is now. It was hard to find each other. Certainly things were going on nationally, but kind of nobody knew about it. And so if you were someone who could pop up on those national networks, that was the way in.

Nicolas: We are coming back to that idea of being a trailblazer and seemingly the first later on. I'm going to hold on to that thought right there. But...

Scott: Yeah, we should definitely get into it.

Nicolas: Yes. We're going to dive in there, but to keep everything straight in my mind chronologically, I know that you have an equally established presence as an educator and an advocate as you do a performer. And I think we really need to talk about those in conjunction with each other, because even twenty years later, now a lot of trans artists for us our activism and our art are always influencing one another and always kind of in conversation with one another. So I don't want to artificially try to separate them out.

Scott: Oh, well you can.

Nicolas: No.

Scott: Yeah. In fact, for me it was audience development. And I would go someplace, especially if I would go to a school, I would say "transgender performance art" on the poster and people at that time, literally, they would be like, "What's that?" You know what I mean? Like even the word transgender. Especially in the places I was going, because I wasn't a darling of New York theatre or even San Francisco or any of the big cities. I was going to Laramie, Wyoming, Charlottesville, Virginia, Houston, Texas. I was going to these places that... Tampa. I mean, if you look at where my performance history, these were not metropolises.

Nicolas: Yeah. You were really all over.

Scott: All over the place. And then just sort of places where there was queer culture and people were really hungry for it. And it wasn't that sort of blase. When I would go to these schools, I found that if I did a class talk before, if the women's studies group, because they were called women's studies back then, if the women's studies brought me in and I would give a talk on what transgender even is, then I would go from having like maybe fifteen people to having like one hundred people at my... So it was just as an audience building technique, it was a no-brainer. And then I started getting, again it's sort of like things just sort of started happening in that way, so usually what I would do is go into perform at a school and a few class talks.

Then I started getting brought back to the same schools to do the same class talk, because right at the time it was back before gender identity and sexual orientation were separate clauses in nondiscrimination policies. So I ended up getting brought back to talk to trustees and administrators, big muckety muck people. Which is 100 percent because I was white and masculine and cute and educated. It was all of that privilege, which they could interface with in a nonthreatening way, which was building off of the work of all of the activists who were already in those communities trying to do that work. And I just came and very sweetly tipped it over into being, and I was very conscious of that. But because then I had that on my resume, suddenly then corporations started being interested. Because colleges are corporations. Spoiler alert.

Nicolas: I never would've guessed.

Scott: No, what? Never. So I started working with corporations, which were starting to see this influx of folks who were getting out of colleges expecting people to use the right pronouns and have all-gender bathrooms and like that. And that was helpful to me because as a performer, I was not making enough money to live. I was accessing state programs like poverty programs just to survive. And so doing that kind of educational work became my bread and butter in terms of my economy, and performing was what I did kind of on the side, even though they were kind of two braided careers.

Nicolas: All right. So impossible question here. I like asking these on this podcast, but you've been at this for about twenty years now, which is part of why I'm really excited to talk to you about this because you've kind of watched things unfold. But over the course of the career, what are some of the more notable shifts that you've seen, in terms of response to your performances, and your advocacy work? Who was showing up to these workshops? Who was in your audiences? You talked a little bit about this, but who was seeking you out. I'm interested in when did you notice this shifts happening?

Scott: Yeah. So okay, I sort of officially say that 2002 was when I... Because that was really when I started touring and when then the tours became speaking engagements, and the speaking engagements became consulting, even though they were always happening at the same time. So from 2002 to 2006, I was being brought in by either the student LGBT group or the few that were there. There were probably a dozen LGBT centers in universities that were established at that point, enough to have a budget to bring me in. You know what I mean?

And then, like I said, it got a little more corporate within the higher education standpoint. Then 2006 was when we started really seeing the non-discrimination clauses started including, separating out gender identity. Recognizing that sexual orientation and gender identity are separate but still necessary in protections. That was also right around the time when there was a big thing about all new construction on major college campuses needed to include all gender bathrooms.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: So, working in concert with disability groups, and non-traditional student groups led to make a case for that. So, 2009-2012, I left performing and I became an artistic director in Alaska. I just said peace out to all y'all. I started doing my own thing. But, then I came back to it. Right around 2012-2013 was when corporations started bringing me in and that work started happening. 2015 was when I got into television, when I became the first out trans actor in daytime television and had this recurring role on The Bold and The Beautiful, which was wild. Think about those audience politics.

I always come from ... Holly Hughes has had this wonderful quote that has stayed with me since the day I read it in 1999, which was, "Performance Art is where what's going on in the audience is just as important as what's happening on stage." And I am just guided by that. When I got that role I was like, well what's going on in the audience of The Bold and The Beautiful.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: Right. Now also, what happened then in 2016 was... What happened in 2016?

Nicolas: Refresh our memories here.

Scott: Trump was elected. In case you're too traumatized to consider that. Blocked it all out. 2016 was when He Who Shall Not Be Named was elected. Before that point I had these queer, trans, feminists, education oriented and/or arts for social change oriented. I really started touring the natural performance network in 2006 or 2007 and that's the whole social justice oriented art spaces. So it was all very niche and there was still always a lot of interest. The audiences were always really strong. They were by and large, again, queer, feminists, arts of social change people. Then I did this thing in colleges where I had this workshop about how LGBTQ Community and the Greek system have a lot in common, as I bring those groups together. So I have frat boys and sorority girls coming and it was a way to just ... again it was all audience development, right?

Nicolas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott: So when people where like, "What is this transgender thing?" Who didn't know how to be transphobic now in the ways that they do. Then 2016 hits and I could literally take all of the audiences that I'd had in the fourteen years that I had been touring to that time. I could add them all up, and it still would not equal the audiences that I interfaced with whether as an artist or as a speaker since 2016. The flood gates opened. People started giving a shit, like really giving a shit, and really wanting to learn, and not just being there because they needed somebody or they were or whatever. It was like, "No, this is important." Right? Which was amazing even during the hell of the last four years.

Nicolas: Yeah, that's something that you mentioned back when we talked about this for my dissertation research was, I had come at it from the standpoint around that time was when Time Magazine was declaring, "The Transgender Coming Point - We have made it." There's this giant increase in visibility. Very few people were talking about how that also coincided with this life of Trumpism and this backlash.

To some of the steps that we've made forward over the past decade or so with those non-discrimination policies. With just slightly growing over time, trans awareness and I think that's a really important aspect of that conversation, is that these two things were happening at the same time and bouncing off of each other.

Scott: Yeah, I always remind people that also in 2016 we got marriage equality.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: And for at least twenty years, up to that point, marriage equality had been used as a political football.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: To get people to vote emotionally one way or another. Once that was taken off the table it was like how do we do this bull-shit political game. Oh, there are transgender people. Nobody knows what that is.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Let's go after that. Then, suddenly, bathroom bills, and we've all been using bathrooms just fine before. Then bathroom bills show up and it's like He Who Shall Not Be Named taught people how to be transphobic.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: And it was not just him. It was all of... because it's a political game.

Nicolas: Right.

Scott: You see that people would vote very vociferously one way or the other. It was like a real split and it was a really great day to magnetize, on either side ...

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: Voters towards your cause without looking at the real, intense harm that that was doing to actual human beings.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Or trans but I will say not only trans people because what also came up in that was immigrants, as always, choice politics, Muslim, the Muslim ban, right?

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: It was like anything that was different and the way that our authoritarian politics work is they start with your right to choose, which, by the way, goes into your right to be who you are and have the body you want to have, right? As much as anyone...

Nicolas: It's the right to have autonomy over your own body.

Scott: Exactly. And...

Nicolas: If you're not a straight white man.

Scott: Right? Exactly, and immigrant politics are different. All in the same, we create a boogie person, and we go after them because that's how you get votes. It's hard to be conscious of this and not be able to stop it. Right?

Nicolas: Yeah, oh yeah. I am really intrigued by how, and I don't want to say entirely seamlessly, but how very much in conversation the stress that you are noticing within your own personal-professional work being mapped onto national politics. I think that's another thing that we also don't really get into when we are talking about the first air-quotes trans person in all of these spaces. There was not another person visible in this way before.

Scott: There were other people, it's just that we were sort of siloed regionally in the day. There were the people who were the New York Darlings and the San Franciso Darlings. Seattle had a whole scene. Then you had this other regional scene. I remember, Gunner Scott had this amazing thing called Gender Crash that happened in Boston, which was just this amazing salon of fabulous queers who ended up ... that's where I met ... I didn't meet S. Bear Bergman there, but S. Bear Bergman was big there. Athens Boys Choir, I didn't know ... David Harrison preceded all of us.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: And was doing that work in the ’90s. People unsigned rights about their work together and David had his own works and now is still doing awesome things and is being a major character on the Blacklist, which is one of the most watched television shows ever. In 2003, I went to this national transgender theatre festival, and I think there was only one. It held was under St. Mark's Theatre by some trans guys who had fallen out of The WOW Café because weird politics happened in there.

Just two years before, in 2000, I did an internship at the WOW Café. for Carmelita Tropicana and Holly Hughes helping them write a book and I was embraced.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Year by year these things changed. I have to say I was, absolutely, not the first. I just happen to have always been surfing a wave ...

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: Of what's current, but there are a lot of us and I think surfing is the perfect analogy for this because when you look at surfers on a beach, we're all one. You can't surf tandem.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Do you know what I mean?

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: So we are all stretched along this beach of history playing out and all of us being on it, but we were all there.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm. I really like how you're really highlighting how there was already this community that existed and that trans performers have been in conversation with and collaborating with broader queer performance in general, forever. There's all these other people that were there before we were on the internet, before...

Scott: What we've had has been spotlight moments that we've all just been there working together and producing our own self for one another forever. So there would be, yeah. Hollywood was paying attention, or even national or regional theatres or even local theatres, for God's sake. The fact that we all had to make our own is evidence of the industrial transphobia that we all experienced. Most of us had a really hard time just being a part of any theatre community because they were like, "Well I can't see you as a man because I know you're not really a man and so how could you possibly..." The cannon aside...

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Then any work that included us was considered cutting edge or edgy or whatever.

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Scott: So you would have to find a really special theatre to do that. Theatre is so far behind right now in terms of the trans casting dialog. I still get calls from people who are like, "Can I put a person ... there's nobody around." I'm like, "Why do you think that is? And no, I'm not going to give you permission. No." Do you know what I mean? Which, that means that they just don't do anything. That includes trans people, so again, we're stuck back at the cannon. Right?

Nicolas: I think that's part of the larger conversation that the theatre's not having yet, is okay, but why can't you find any trans people? What is it about your organization that people don't feel comfortable coming to you and auditioning? What is going on that you have no idea who to reach out to, to find trans folks in your community? Especially some of these larger metropolitan areas. We're everywhere.

Scott: It's so complicated, right? First of all, theatre has struggled to survive.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Let's be real. Having been an artistic director, I have so much compassion. Everybody wants to hate an artistic director for the choices they make, without recognizing the compromises that they're having to make just to pay everybody's paycheck on a bi-weekly basis. Do you know what I mean? So it's like, love an artistic director, support an artistic director. Right? Then, they'll make better choices. Because right now, they're in a fox hole, and it's only worse since COVID, but it has always been that way. So, I want to foreground it with that.

Secondly, very traditional theatre worlds are just cliques. Do you know what I mean? Like hello? Right? So, if you're not a trans person in the clique, which most trans people aren't, it's what whoever's vanity production of whatever and you're not going to be in it. So, the problems of the American theatre are they just highlight how it works on a larger level, kind of real large in culture for trans folks, and it has it's own special blend of moves you can critique endlessly.

There's another piece to it, where queer and trans communities don't support each other. There's so much drama, so if you did do even a perfect queer trans piece, there'd be a whole bunch of people who didn't show up to it, so you'd think, "Oh, there's no market for this, so we're not going to do it." But, it's very tricky. Right?

Nicolas: I think that's another thing that I've noticed more recently, is that even within the LGBTQ community, it's just becoming more and more siloed, and obviously there's a broader cultural context around that, but just this idea of showing up for each other and making space for imperfection.

Scott: Not letting perfect be the enemy of good.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: Look, it's easy to understand. We're told our whole lives that there's something wrong with us, so it's an expression of internalized transphobia and homophobia to be so critical of everything else all the time. Right? It's just a mindset we get into because we're abused that way, and that was ten thousand dollars worth of therapy. Which most people don't get. You know what I mean?

Look, this is marginalized group social politics, and theatre always lays bare the social politic of the time and of the group, and so that's what's happening. Not letting perfect be the enemy of good. Now again, I'm not going to accept that just because you don't know some trans person, so you're going to cast this person in that role. That's not what I mean.

Nicolas: Yes.

Scott: Okay? I'm not letting you off the hook in that. But, I think that we, queer and trans folks as audience members, need to understand that anything that gets out there is a miracle, and if we want to continue seeing it, such that our culture has an opportunity to grow and develop, then we need to support it and go, "Okay, well that wasn't perfect, but I'm still glad it happened." You know what I mean? And I still put my dollars toward it. Right?

Nicolas: I think there's also somewhat—somewhat is undercutting it—there is a large double standard, in that there are still so few trans representations in the mainstream, that every single one matters that much more. Because it ends up teaching, our cis, straight, audience members, either how to accept us, or how to become more transphobic, or just reinscribes all sorts of other things that are already floating around out there. So, even when folks get that platform to be able to say something in a complicated way, there's all this extra scrutiny, because it's like, "All right, there's two of us that people can name off the top of their head."

Scott: Yeah, and do they have to say everything? Audience is so important. Knowing your audience. When you get catapulted onto a big spring national, or international stage, you talk to people who don't even recognize or believe that transgender exists. Right? That transgender people are real people having an actual human experience and difference. Right?

Nicolas: How do you talk to that audience and also an audience of trans people at the same time?

Scott: Right, and an audience of trans people who are going to be mad at you for not always saying, "Trans, and nonbinary, and gender non-conforming." Right? We're not representing exactly who they are. You know what I mean? I sound a little critical of trans community and I'll be honest, a little bit I am. I want to say I recognize it as, "We are traumatized. We are hurt. We are in a fox hole." Right? That is why this is happening, and it sucks because this is marginalization politics winning. This is oppression winning, when we can't get out of being so wounded and attacked, that we can't grow, that we can't cultivate a culture together. It's not to say that it isn't happening, but that is the biggest obstacle that any queer or trans culture maker I've ever met experiences over and over again.

Nicolas: I've heard that from a lot of folks in response to their work.

Scott: It's hard. It's really hard. I love my community and I want the best for my community. I want my community to have nice things. I want my community to have pride.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: In each other and in ourselves.

Nicolas: You wouldn't come and talk to me about gender euphoria in the theatre, if that weren't the case.

Scott: Right, and it's because we need to mold and make gender euphoria. You know what I mean? Whether you're faking it 'til you make it, whether you have to take a giant leap of faith and just forget about the haters, grow that thick skin to have gender euphoria, we have to have that and we have to cultivate that, because it's too dire not to. You know what? If you're not somebody's cup of tea, if people protest you or whatever, if people talk shit about you online, just keep having that gender euphoria, because it's much more necessary.

Nicolas: Yeah.

Scott: —to recognize what that intro community negativity is, it's just trauma. So, having more euphoria, I would like to think that balances the scales, but I'm a Libra, so I don't know. I just think that way.

Nicolas: But, I think that there's something to that. Popular imagination of trans-ness is entirely centered around dysphoria, that we're trapped in the wrong body, and completely ignores that gender euphoria is a survival tactic, really. This is the thing that makes it worth it to keep going and to connect us to each other. We need that.

Scott: It's what we're all going for. It's what we all want. It's funny, because there are all these words that exist now that didn't exist then, like I talk about Underground Transit. For the longest time, I've always said that I was a transgender man, because we didn't have the word nonbinary. We had genderqueer, which didn't feel right to me. It wasn't a word, and perhaps the community culture at the time just didn't speak to me? But, if you read Underground Transit, it's a nonbinary manifesto that just didn't have the word nonbinary, and it is gender euphoria. Debutante Balls, my second show, was gender euphoria. You know what I mean? Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps is a total deconstruction of what it means to be a man. What even is that? While it does delve into some of the dysphoria, and some transition stuff, and some of that, a lot of it is so much more than euphoria of the depth, the nuance, and just gorgeous beauty that happens in those moments. Those little moments in life, those little interactions that you have, where you are living your best life and your full self.

Nicolas: Lovely way to transition us into talking about Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps, which I absolutely adore, and I want you to talk about the show a little bit, because you've been developing this for quite a long time, and it is just this giant beast of a piece with so many moving parts. I'll let you tell us a little bit about what is the show, Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps?

Scott: Okay, so the year was 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia, and there was some bubbling up. Right? It felt like there was something that was happening, and yet I wasn't getting invited to audition for anything. It was still going to be a solo show, and at that time, I was like, "You know what? This is probably going to be what the rest of my entire life and career looks like. I'm probably always going to have to be a solo performer." I had grown out of being able to perform Underground Transit, because it only worked before I was on testosterone, and before I had medically transitioned, so I couldn't perform that anymore. Debutante Balls was fine, but I didn't want to perform that for the rest of my life. So I was like, "Okay, got to make this new show."

So, I had seen the Neo-Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which the structure is that audiences pick. You had like thirty plays in one hour, and the audience would call out the numbers, and they would do all thirty two-minute plays in that one hour, just in a different order every time, which was a really fun thing for a performer to have to do. So I was like, "All right, going to do that." What actually happened was, I was trying to make myself look good in a program bio, and I didn't have any work.

I didn't know what I was going to do, and S. Bear Bergman had said, "You should do a show called becoming a man in 127 easy steps." And brilliant, and so I took it. “He's currently working on his new show,” because can you imagine Bear is like, "Excuse me? You are?" I need to look good. I need to look like I have something going on in my life. So, the title is Bear’s, and I will shout that from the rooftop. So I was like, "Okay, 127. That is a huge number." Right? Like if they do thirty, I could do 127, and what that means is it can grow. If this is the only show I'm going to do for the rest of my life, I can be fifty figuring this out, and new things are always going to happen because we're all different. Always. Everything. If you're not you're dead. So what would this look like. And the way we figured it out was... The audience comes in and I started explaining the conceit to them, and then we'd call out numbers. But you only get six to eight stories in a night. So you have to keep coming back, which is brilliant audience marketing.

Nicolas: There you go.

Scott: But it meant too that when we premiered in Seattle, thinking back in 2007, I think if I had sixteen stories, I'd be surprised. I can't remember. But we just did it where it was like, stories one through five, was a story. And six through ten, was a story. And so my tech person would sort of ride along with me. But the audience really would choose it, which was a fun exercise for me. And it meant that tone would shift radically, and it would just be this totally new experience, even for me, every time. Which was pretty cool.

So we did that for a lot of years. And we're still sort of performing it. The last time I performed it full-out was at Miami-Dade College in 2018. So it's had a good long run, but a few years ago I got approached to create a one man show special of it. And so we're still working on that. We've taped a lot of live segments, and taped some other things. And we're just sort of now in that process of putting it all together and trying to recreate the essence of what that experience was like for people, while showing how big it is. And how many stories a single person can contain, which is actually not a trans specific thing. It's a human thing, right?

Nicolas: Absolutely. I will put some information in the show notes about where you can find out more about Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps, and how to support the work. I think something that I really love about it is, it really feels like an inherently trans and queer method of storytelling, in that it doesn't happen in chronological order. It is really dependent on the social context that you're in, and your interactions between people. And I find that really really exciting.

Scott: Nice. Thank you.

Nicolas: But anyway, I guess I will wrap us up with these last couple of questions. So I think... as has this come up as a theme throughout our conversation today, and as is one of the main ideas of this podcast is that trans folks are everywhere. And we have always been here. So I'm wondering, would you like to shout out someone who has been part of your queer trans artistic family tree, who has inspired and supported your work, and helped you get to where you are today? You don't have to pick just one person.

Scott: Good. Because I have a couple answers. Yeah. Someone who I feel like, when we first met, it was just this homecoming in a way, where I felt like I'd met my soulmate in a way on this path. Someone who has been really negotiating those theatre politics that we talked about and has created her own work. And is just unbelievably talented, and gifted. You probably don't know who she is, and that's your problem. And you need to go fix it right away.

Her name is Dane Edidi. And she is unbelievable, just a force of nature. We met I believe in 2012, and that was my sort of spiritual moment of 2012, was meeting Dane. And finding out that she has been negotiating these things for so long, and she's blossoming and blooming, and doing incredible work that's just getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And so get on the Dane Edidi track, because she's amazing.

Nicolas: I second that!

Scott: Thank you. Yes. And then, the other thing I would say is, just sort of off your point about trans people everywhere, is the cis people I want to talk to. Because like I told you, the adults in the room when I was in college, were cis people, in Atlanta, Georgia, in the year 2002, that kind of time. Those people were not equipped and did not have any politics. They were not MSNBC watch rooms because they didn't exist. They were just normal cis folks, and they were like, "This isn't fair. This person needs a chance. We're going to put resources, we're going to make an opportunity for this artist."

If you're not doing that, you're overthinking it. Just make opportunities. And I wake up daily, grateful for that experience. I'm so lucky that I had that experience. Where it didn't become this political thing, where it didn't become something protested. Where obviously I wasn't trans bashed. It was just people being humans, recognizing that there was an injustice and that they could very simply... there they were, with the understanding that they had, do something that literally set up my entire life in the best possible way. Anyone can do that, don't overthink it. Just do it.

Nicolas: Amazing. And finally, could you leave us with an image of what gender euphoria looks like for you, in your every day, or in performance?

Scott: To me, the feeling of gender euphoria is where you're in a flow. As trans folks, if you're one of the people who understands themself from a very early age, it's because you're experiencing a separation. It's because you're experiencing kind of a traumatic experience of recognizing that there's a schism between who you are and what the world sees, and you're more or less successful at being able to align those two things.

And so that feeling of being in the flow of recognizing that you are where you're supposed to be, what you're supposed to be, you are who you're supposed to be, you are welcome there. And that this is your magical moment. That's what gender euphoria is to me, and it has everything and nothing to do with gender.

Nicolas: As it often does. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

Scott: Oh my real pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Nicolas: There's so many things to think about. This concludes the regularly scheduled episodes of season one of Gender Euphoria, the Podcast. There are so many more conversations to be had, and questions to be explored. I'm struck by all of the names that Scott and many other guests have mentioned who have inspired and supported them. And I want to know more.

I'm left with questions like, how and where have trans folks been building and creating communities and spaces of our own that could support our work? How have trans artists been using performance for political and cultural intervention within theatrical institutions and out in our communities? How is transphobia in the theatre industry related to structures and systems built on white supremacy, colonialism, and patriarchy? How do anti-racist, feminist, de-colonial, queer and trans inclusive theatre practices and communities overlap? Where could they? I encourage you to join me in sitting with some of those questions. In the meantime, I'll be scheming and planning the next phase of this project. Until then, this has been Gender Euphoria, the podcast.

Gender Euphoria, the podcast is hosted and edited by me, Nicolas Shannon Savard. The voices you heard in the opening poem were, Rebecca Kling, Dillon Yruegas, Siri Gurudev, Azure D. Osborne-Lee, and Joshua Bastian Cole. Gender Euphoria is sponsored by HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide.

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Thoughts from the curator

Hosted by Nicolas Savard, the Gender Euphoria podcast aims to amplify the voices of trans and gender nonconforming theater artists in the United States and creates an opportunity for trans artists to be in conversation with one another about their experiences working in a field that has a tendency to tokenize them. Each of these conversations will offer a space to share and explore the kinds of cultural work that trans/queer art is doing in the world from an intersectional perspective.

Gender Euphoria


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