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March 6, 2014

We’re not going to talk about “Dallas Buyers Club” at the 2014 LGBT journalist convening.

By Kelli Anne Busey


Yes we are.

A few days ago, I posted excitedly about going to Washington DC to attend the 2014 LGBT Media convening and the very real possibility of seeing the president. Well, my train was behind schedule, so I missed Bo by 15 minutes but the real frustration hadn’t even begun.  Looking at the agenda early in the day I saw three panels where I could air my concerns about Jared Leto’s role in the Dallas Buyers Club, the reason I had decided to attend.

I really tried to get recognized waving my hand to indicate I had input to be considered. However, Matt Foreman moderating the first panel “Understanding and deconstructing the attack lines of the anti LGBT industry” looked past me as if I didn’t exist. I finally got his attention, but he just grimaced and looked away.

I wasn’t the only one to notice this. Someone commented later about it but I shrugged it off. The convening had just begun and I had all day to speak up.

Second panel: “What we don’t talk about: Radical methods for greater diversity in Queer Journalism.”  

I tried to get the moderator’s attention during the Q and A, this time waving my hand a little more vigorously. I had something I really wanted to say, and this panel needed to hear it. Moreover, the journalists in attendance needed to hear what I had to say. However, moderator Erin Rock just ignored my gestures.

Last panel: “Airing our dirty laundry: Best practices in writing about touchy subjects”. As a minority in the greater LGB media and even more so in mainstream media “Airing our dirty laundry: Best practices in writing about touchy subjects” was a perfect panel for my question.

This time, frustrated I raised my hand as soon as the moderator Sara Blazucki began inviting questions. Blazucki wouldn’t even look in my direction even as I was ferociously waving both arms in the air. As she began to close the final panel, I shouted “I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.” I knew in my heart if she didn’t call on me I was going to stand in front of the panel and have my say anyway. If they were that determined to shut me down completely they would have had to do it with law enforcement.

Looking at me in exasperation she invited me to speak. I made a comment on how GLAAD was giving  “Dallas Buyers Club”  a free pass on its inaccuracies regarding the history of HIV/AIDS and talked briefly about it’s transphobic content, hoping others would become engaged in the conversation.

Now totally exasperated at this fucking tranny who had the audacity to demand equal time she inquired condescendingly ‘Well, what’s your point? Do you have something to say? Do you have a question”? Then totally frustrated she stated “Well, we’re not going to talk about that here”.

Bad move ace. We sure as fuck were going to talk about it.

kelli Busey geting ready to turn around

So I turned around and looked at all of my fellow LGB bloggers and journalists. I asked them why they had been silent about the problematic content of that movie.

Why did it take Steve Friess who wasn’t even in the room to begin the conversation with “Don’t Applaud Jared Leto’s Transgender ‘Mammy” ?

Then looking directly at the ones who had written articles praising “Dallas Buyers Club” I asked them why had done this. I asked if they understood that they were stomping on the graves of our fallen. Did they understand they were digging holes for transgender people with HIV/AIDS?

Not one person would look up. Not one. The ones who were looking in my general direction averted their eyes as I glanced at them

Yeah have a nice fucking day.

In all honesty I don’t know why I was censored at the 2014 gathering of ‘the top 70 LGBT journalists’. I am known for my outspoken unabashed criticism of gay media. I am transgender. Maybe it was one or both of those reasons or perhaps a conspiracy. So much of the convening was spent talking about trans and queer related issues, I just don’t know.

What will they talk about at the LGBT Journalist Convening in the future? They will talk about understanding and deconstructing the attack lines of the anti LGBT industry, radical methods for greater diversity in Queer Journalism and Airing our dirty laundry: Best practices in writing about touchy subjects. They will talk about a lot of great topics just as long as the question and comments don’t come from the fucking tranny kelli Busey.

Rest assured that won’t happen again.

It was preordained that Leto would get an academy award and he did later in the day. The transgender community was outraged by Leto’s award and felt disempowered by the academy and the majority of gay media’s ignoring oor concerns. The reaction on twitter was fast and furious.

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  • Pingback: Rebecca Juro, Bil Browning, and my Donna Rose moment at the LGBTMedia14 Convening | Planet Transgender()

  • I know that my thoughts will surely ruffle some feathers, but please think in the context of both acting and the Film business. As a Trans* actor, I’m constantly fighting for CIS roles, so things work BOTH ways.

    Many of the posters here were babies or yet to be born–never mind ‘OUT’ in the 80’s when this film was set in, so they’re not speaking from experience. The 80’s were pretty rough for Trans* folk–hence the portrayals of less-than-savory characters. It’s shameful, but that’s history for you!

    “As a Trans, my thoughts toward the film is that Jared gave a Spectacular performance as a actor.

    Situations for Transsexuals were very different and much more difficult
    in the 80’s from current times and yes–many of the visible Trans at that
    time were less savory then due to more Trans’ still being ‘in the
    closet’. Many then had more unfortunate circumstances and living

    Would I have preferred seeing an actual Trans in the role? Of course.
    But people are TALKING about Trans acting more now–which is a positive.

    As an Performer with 35+ acting credits, I also understand that he
    accepted a film role. He did not personally design any controversy about his
    character. He did his job. Well. And got a Great Award for it. If he turned the role down, it would have gone to someone else–perhaps Trans*, perhaps not; but he would not have earned his Oscar award.
    I’m constantly fighting for cis-gender roles–so the argument works both ways.

    If you’re unhappy, approach the studio and the writers.

    Also, Casting Directors have an extremely important and highly
    stressful job. They have business parameters to work within, so casting a
    Trans in this role may not have been an option for them. Deal with it.
    As a Trans actor being realistic, I am.

    If Mr. Leto chooses not to tip his hat to the Trans community, then that’s his choice-whether we agree or not.”

    • If anyone wants to help the Trans* community through film work. then
      kindly SHARE our trailer on your social networks. Our film was
      politically written so that people would laugh WITH Trans*, not AT us.
      Here’s the link to our trailer:
      Thank You!

    • christian_transgender

      No feathers ruffled whatsoever Brina especially since you are contributing to the dialogue and providing balance. As I mentioned I haven’t seen the movie so my analysis is emotionally-laden based on how Kelly was systematically shunned and on the movie’s negative albeit accurate portrayal of trans history. Beyond that, I will never speak against an actor for doing his or her job. In fact Jared completely deserved his award and I am still awed by his tremendous physical sacrifice to perform the role. No one is critiquing Leto for as you say his job was to perform a role, not to be a trans advocate which is to be expected from a non-trans performer. Being that you are in the industry, your defense of other actors is to be expected and in fact obligatory on your part, particularly since you are directly knowledgeable.

      The reason I mention the dire need for trans actors to perform trans roles isn’t to convict casting directors or performers but to advocate for greater trans representation in Hollywood, not unlike the period when gay actors were simply not well represented either. All movies based on reality tell a story based on history, in this case the 80’s. You are correct. We have come a long, long way relative to trans rights and am sure you understand how with momentum behind us, we seek to move past the “horrification” of trans persons and into a more positive portrayal. Understandably, the 80’s was not a good time to be trans and provides the context for this movie however if anything is revealed by transphobic persons it’s the apparent fact that their viewpoint of us is also stuck in the 80’s and not current with who we are now. Continuing to focus on who we were rather than who we now are, from my view, is in consequence a disservice to the trans community, regardless of caliber of directing or acting.

      It is great to know that trans actors are out there and I would be thrilled to know how other trans persons can pursue acting—a roadmap if you will. Does it begin as an extra? Again, thank you for providing balance and insight.

      • Christian: thanks for your kind comments.

        Trans* folk outside the industry need to learn how the film business works. Actors are cast as actors–NOT writers. If a director is open to going “off-book” (improvising from the set script), then that’s good for the Trans* actor and hopefully for the film.

        If you’re interested in acting, search casting calls in your area and begin with background work–advancing to small speaking roles 🙂 🙂

        • christian_transgender

          Understandably, acting is more often a job than a ticket to fame and having grown up outside of known civilization without TV (desert), it isn’t my personality to be star-struck, unlike my daughter who has grown up with media. I am also very aware of how different I would have turned out in personality had I grown up with media rather than begin to watch TV at the age of 16, far beyond impressionable age.

          Thus, I watch a movie about once every 3/4 years on average and my perspective is that actors are but employees which is of course far from accurate. Because of my personal lack of media immersion during youth, I find that notable achievements are worthy of commendation whether as an actor or other source of income.

          Understandably, it is the statistically untrue notion that acting is a ticket to fame that results in unscrupulous and predatory luring of potential actors by those seeking personal gain at the expense of others. How does one tell reputable “casting calls” from illicit ones?

  • Michelle S. Andrews

    This is what usually happens when something very supportive of the LGB movements does conflict with the T. From what I understand, Dallas Buyers Club brings a lot of awareness to AIDS and LGBT issues. Which is something they want to promote. The fact that the trans community is frustrated that a non trans actor was giving the roll is an annoyance they would love to see just go away.

    This reminds very much of the example of a very LGB-T show Lost Girl. GLAAD was very quick to sweep the issue under the rug when the show offered a non-apologetic and ridiculous explanation.

    Though I do not think the answer is to separate from the community, as per most of the time our struggles are closely aligned, and support on issues that do not. Unfortunately I have no idea how to resolve the issue when our goals conflict.

    But this sweeping us under the rug is very frustrating…

  • danah gaz

    Am I alone in thinking that casting a man to play a woman – something generally only done in parody – was worse than casting a cis person?

    • christian_transgender

      Not at all. It would have been far better to, lacking a suitable authentic trans actor, give the role to a cis person. There are a lot of beautiful stories about our trans experience fraught with challenges and danger or dramatic stories about the tremendous costs incurred to career or self from gender angst. This is the best Hollywood could do? How about a police drama movie with a twist? Perhaps I can dust off my old CA Highway Patrol or AF military police uniforms and play myself? It wouldn’t be the first time an ex-cop segued into an acting career.

      I really did work alone at night on CA freeways (Newhall, I-5 Fwy) at 24 and yes was scary, but all other kidding aside, much positive advancement will occur only after trans actors portray trans characters. Until then, transface will continue, just as black face did for far too long.

  • Matt Foreman

    Kelli – I’m really sorry I wasn’t able to call on you. I did see you and we made eye contact at least 2 times. As I said then, we were behind schedule and I couldn’t take another question for the panel as that would have unfairly cut into the time for the next presentation.

    The majority of the panelists’ time and the participants’ questions (including from transgender attendees) were devoted to transgender issues. So, while I am sorry there wasn’t time to hear your question, trans issues were front and center not only in this panel but throughout the day.

    I’m happy to discuss this with you more at your convenience.

    • Matt, how many other trans voices were given an opportunity to speak up? It appears others BESIDES Kelli were given an opportunity. Can you or Kelli identify those transgender panelist and attendees?

      • Jenna I am sorry that I didn’t say in the article how much time was spent talking about radical inclusion, However I did make a point about how this radical didn’t feel included, but yeah there were quite a few trans people in attendance. Off the top of my head, Cristan Williams, Monica Roberts and another person who’s name escapes me at this second. The Trans panelists included Masen Davis, Rebecca Juro and Mara Keisling.

        • Thank you Kelli.

          So, were the trans panelist on the same panel? Or was there trans presence on each panel? Do you have the subject being addressed by each panel? And, most importantly, were other trans journalist’s questions being fielded?

          Please forgive my line of questioning. I am trying to build the mental image of what was happening collectively in that space and want to fill in blank spots.

          • All great questions Jenna.

          • Do you have the answers to those questions or can you direct me to where those answers can be secured?

        • Katrina Rose

          “The Trans panelists included Masen Davis, Rebecca Juro and Mara Keisling”

          So, in other words, two people who have any credibility when speaking on trans issues – and a bought-and-paid-for shill for Gay, Inc.

      • Matt Foreman

        Jenna – there were three openly transgender panelists (out of a total of 11): Mara Keisling; Reina Gossett; Masen Davis. They were each on different panels. I believe that 15 individuals (out of total of 75 attendees) identified as transgender.

        • Matt, thank you. The question which remains is, were other trans voices given a space to speak, where Kelli was excluded? Or were (unintentionally or not) no trans voices represented in the fielded questions?

          • Matt Foreman

            Of course trans attendees spoke – as panelists and in Q&A sessions.

          • Again, thank you Matt.

            However, it is not a matter of “of course”. Kelli has leveled an alligation that she was excluded from ALL Q & A until she forcably spoke up, requiring she be allowed to ask but one question. Nothing in her alligation, NOR in and subsequent discussion in THIS comment forum, has it been state prior, that ANY transgender voices were called upon from the floor.

            So please forgive me when I restate what I understand to be the case.

            There were trans panelist (non-journalist/media types) and trans journalist/media types in the audience asking questions. Expect, facilitators of the Q & A sessions ALL failed to allow Kelli to ask a question of the panelists, at any opportunity until Kelli forced her voice into the discussion.

            I wanted to make sure I am understanding this correctly, Because I do not want to be holding incorrect information and because it appears Kelli was slighted by the faciliators, intentionally or unintentionally, and since other trans journalists (and I have no ideal who those inidividuals specifically are) did have the opprtunity to ask questions.

            This basis of information would leave me asking the question:

            “Was there a concerted effort by the faciliators, whether it sprung up either from themselves, or in conjunction with the panelists, to exclude Kelli’s voice specifically?”

      • Hi Jenna: Openly trans panelists included Masen Davis, Reina Gossett, Dr. Kortney Ziegler, and Mara Keisling. Openly trans facilitators/panel moderators included Rebecca Juro and myself. Every panel/presentation had trans representation. You can see a full list of attendees here:

        • Thank you Erin for the clarification. I’ve been trying to verify whether Kelli was singled out for exclusion as she has claimed here.

          So far no one has proffered anything that suggests others were excluded from speaking, yet quite the contrary, that other non panelist (because Kelli is claiming her questions were not being heard) who identify as trans WERE given a voice whereas Kelli was not.

          (BTW, WE do go to the Bileric Report, namely because of Bil Browning extracting financial gains off the suffering of transgender inidividuals…. )

          Cueing Angry Bil supporters ………………3……….2………….1

          To be candid, I’m surprised she is surprised. Is it really shocking she was on lock down?

          If anyone wanted a response from any of the panelist, all they have to do is pick up the phone and call them and get their take on a point of interest.

          While its shameful she has been silenced because she speaks her mind, I suspect this story is more about indignation than injustice.

          Kelli, I support your right to be free to ask your questions, but please do not feel amazed when you get shut down. What did you really expect from this sort of event?

    • Thank you Matt, I would love to talk with you about this. I’ll be on the Rebecca Juro show on the 2oth at 7:30 pm. Would you like to join us? I’d have to ask her first of course.

  • christian_transgender

    It is now time to declare our independence and move on. We are living in historical times related to trans equality and must bid our British oppressors goodbye, metaphorically speaking. We must shake off those who hold tightly to our coattails to keep us as from advancing. We have been the lizard’s tail long enough. If this “meeting” wasn’t trans-exclusive and didn’t expose the LGBT “union” as farce, I don’t know what it will take. Certainly we don’t want to wait until the door closes so hard that it breaks our nose. Within the timeline of every cause, their comes a time to march into the wilderness alone, despite the insecurities that are sure to follow, but for a time.

    My thesis: Whilst the “straight” community understands us more and more, particularly due to trans children, the LGB community, despite including some trans “supporters”, will never completely be trans supporters and continue to be a liability in the advancement of trans rights and equality.

    Diarrhea is diarrhea and smells just the same whether we wish to state so or not. For me, and for many it is the LGB + T, but more often than not the LGB – T. Whatever we wish to state that it is, it smells just the same. This Washington DC (first mistake of venue due to its subjective political ramifications), meeting was never truly an LGBT meeting: as Kelly who keenly understands her role as trans leader so aptly demonstrates, it was to be only LGB – T political posturing.

    This Dallas Buyers Club flick deserved praise and adoration just as much as contracting HIV or transphobia does. What good came of it for the trans community? I haven’t seen the movie but just with what little I know it seems to perpetuate the horrific stereotypes held about us. It was presented as noble by intent, authentic as reality but after the noise settled it was delivered as toxic as arsenic soup.

    As a trans community we deny the following at our own peril:

    (1) that to many, we are born male and will die male, regardless of appearance.
    (2) that to many, we seek access into female areas for nefarious reasons, despite only to use the restroom.
    (3) that the straight community is beginning to understand our gender angst, whilst the LGB continues in the opposite direction, despite stating otherwise publicly.
    (4) that we will never be able to get complete understanding or acceptance, although we could care less so long as we aren’t castigated indiscriminately for who we are.
    (5) that to the core of the LGB, we are and always will be gay male drag queens, despite male drag queens being part time “female” and full-time males and not sharing a medical transition.
    (6) that our true strength comes from our own, not the LGB, and the LGB has time and time again, discarded the T lizard tail to save themselves, despite some sincere ardent LGB trans advocates.
    (7) that before the NAACP, and the AFL-CIO, and other acronym-based groups unified by strength, there was only diluted strength. So long as we continue to remain the T community without our own national acronym backed up by unity of strength, there will be no strength.

    So long as we continue to deny the above, we shall wallow in the mud while elevating our head at oxygen level. So long as we continue to deny it, we shall achieve the same results—from heading in the right direction with the wrong parties. It is far more preferable to walk alone than with heavy luggage. The seven points I make above are never to be misconstrued as hostility to the LGB, for that is sexually not possible for many of us. There comes a time when we reach a junction, and must each head our own way, for our own good. There was a time when I bought into the LGBT union but that time has recently passed. Truth be told, I confide much more in a straight person than to a gay or lesbian person. More often than not, a straight person will be neutral, while in my personal experience a gay or lesbian person exhibits overt contempt. In fact this disdain and loathing is best exemplified in the TERF movement populated by lesbians.

    • Katrina Rose

      “For me, and for many it is the LGB + T, but more often than not the LGB – T”

      It certainly was in New York state in 2002.

      Last time I checked New York’s statutes it still is.

      • christian_transgender

        With a USAF discharge 30 years behind me, military exclusion of trans enlistees really rubs me raw, particularly since I was no less trans while serving despite being clueless about a road map toward transition. I am one of those “vets” who enlisted greatly in part to suppress my female identity with the hope that military service would “man me up.” It was a colossal fail because it was at my 2nd base that my female identity really bubbled up. I was 20 and had no clue what that was about, much less the cause. Of course, I know now.

        Stated otherwise: if the internet had existed then I would have self-diagnosed my gender angst and risked an honorable discharge by beginning my girl juice (hormones), slowly at first. Testosterone and I are oil and water. A hyper male sex drive and my gender personality were & are as compatible as a cat and mouse.