My Letter to the Casting Director

A-Boy-And-Her-DogDear Rachel,

Thanks for contacting me about being a peer mentor for the Trans* Docu-Series based on the 21 Day Myth. I’ve attached my contact information and a current photo for your casting manager. I’m also posting the casting call on my blog.

I took the liberty of web-searching your company to get more information on the project. I was surprised to see that some of the other episodes in the 21 Day Myth series consist of Move Into a Tiny House, Is Your Sex Life Too Vanilla, and Do You Want to Look Like Barbie.

I also read up on the 21 Day Myth, a theory erroneously based on “Psycho-cybernetics” published by Dr. Maxwell Maltz in 1960. Dr. Maltz states that it takes 21 days to get used to a change, e.g. moving into a new apartment or adjusting to plastic surgery results. This somehow morphed out of control into 21 days to adopt a new habit or make a major change in your life. It took me about three weeks to get used to myself in my new eyeglasses.

Transitioning is not something anyone should do lightly or under time pressure. Each person needs to determine their own timeline for transition, without a gatekeeper making them prove that they deserve access to services, hormones, or surgery. My trans journey is a set at a slow pace. From the moment that I told my therapist “I’m not a girl” it took me six months to take my next step and choose my name. I waited another six months before I asked my partner, my friends, and my co-workers to use my real (and legal) name. I don’t think I’ve made any trans decisions in a 21 day window, and wouldn’t encourage anyone else to do anything before they were ready.

I think it is important to have accurate and diverse examples of trans-masculine people in the media. I hope your project will treat the participating individuals with respect and not sensationalize their stories.

Looking forward to hearing back from you,

Jamie

Rachel’s original email to me, including the casting call, is in the Notes section.

I don’t expect that I will be cast as a mentor in this show, although I think I would be a good peer listener. I’m not a stereotypical trans man. I’m not sure I’m “trans enough” for their purposes. I can’t even make a firm decision about the path of my own transition or pick a label for myself. I’m not photogenic. I’m just a middle-aged, middle-class, butch, transgender, blogging fool.

I received Rachel’s email the day after I watched the Bruce Jenner interview. For a media circus event I thought the program was respectful, touching, and remarkably boring. I did think about what I would say if I was in Bruce’s place, but I’m not in Bruce’s place. I’m in Jamie’s place, and this is where I get to tell my story (to 16.9 million fewer people).

Notes: This is a good debunking of the 21 Day Myth from The Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL (University College London).

Below is the letter I received from Rachel, and the casting call:

Hi Jamie,

My name is Rachel and I am a casting associate with Magilla Entertainment, a New York-based television production company that specializes in non scripted programming. I came across your blog from T-Central, and wanted to tell you about a new project we are working on.

Currently we are developing a new documentary series that aims to follow the journeys of different people, changing their lives in different ways. One episode in particular will follow the stories of trans individuals who are struggling at a point in their transition, whether it is coming out of the closet, to beginning HRT, or even contemplating SRS. We would like to pair these individuals up with a mentor who can help them through this period of time in their life, and follow as they embark on their new journey. I was wondering if you would be interested in becoming a coach, and also if you would be able to post our casting call (copied below), looking for potential participants, on your blog. Please give me a call if you have any questions or concerns!

ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH YOUR GENDER IDENTITY?

Are you struggling with who you are? Do you feel like you were born into the wrong body? Are you living life as the opposite gender you were given at birth? Magilla Entertainment and a major cable network are now casting men and women who identify as the opposite gender and who are considering going through a transition for a new docu-series. If you have been struggling with your gender identity and want the support of a coach or mentor as you transition, we want to hear your story. Following the “21 Day Myth” in which people can mentally and physically make changes after this specific time period, this docu-series will capture the excitement and fears of transgender individuals as they work with a mentor over 21 days to make life changing decisions and become who they truly are. If you think you are ready to embark on this journey, please contact us ASAP at castingdirector@magilla.tv with your name, age, location, occupation, contact phone number, a recent photo and a few sentences about yourself.


Best,
Rachel Finkelstein
Casting/Development
42 Broadway | New York, NY 10004

 

 

17 thoughts on “My Letter to the Casting Director

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks. I figured I’d send them one of me and Gracie (and that was the best one I had) – but I still don’t think I am what they are looking for…

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  1. Mxtrmeike13

    I considered doing this after I read about it on Janitorqueer’s blog. I’m really anti reality TV though, and I feel similarly about not being “trans enough” for their purposes. Still on the fence about contacting them to be a mentor.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I think it is worth contacting them (if you have the time to do it) just to educate them about what being trans is about. Ultimately they probably have an image of what they want and will keep looking until they find it, and it is reality TV, so my expectations are not very high.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I actually have experience living in a tiny house (300 sq. ft. studio apartment), but I don’t think I’d do it again unless it was on some beautiful land and in a warm climate.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      That is partly why I posted and answered, and also because even though it is a reality TV show, they need to be responsible about who they choose and what they present. My guess is that they don’t have much contact with people who are transgender, and would tend to think stereotypically about it (the all too frequent scene of the trans woman applying her make-up before she goes out).

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  2. Lesboi

    I like how you blew their project to pieces in your letter. Hopefully you’ll get them thinking harder about what they’re doing. And I agree, that’s a great picture.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks. It was a lot of fun using the search engine on them. They are actually a successful production company with some high ranked albeit trashy shows (Moonshine). They are obviously doing this because they hope to make some money from it, and it pisses me off when people try to make money off our community without giving anything back (including proper representation in the media).

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  3. The Little Butch That Could (TLBTC)

    Good luck with the casting! I had to chuckle at the picture. . . Gracie does not look too happy about sitting still for the photo. Cheers.

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  4. Georgeann

    Hey there! I haven’t been reading or writing much lately on WP, but I saw your new post in my e-mail inbox, and sat down with my tomato soup and sourdough bread for a little break from the chaos of my life. I totally agree with your point about a 21 day transition being a myth. It assumes that anyone can adjust to anything in just “three easy weeks”! But that is so not true in real life. I can think of many examples from my own experience where 21 days were simply not enough. In some cases, real problems don’t arise until weeks, months, (maybe years) after a transition event has taken place. Of course, there are many transitions we achieve even faster than 21 days too, which is why humans are so complex. How sad would the world be if it took 21 days to forgive someone after every argument, or 21 days to form a real connection with others? I guess you could say we are all in some form of day to day transition, but to force ourselves to operate under an arbitrary prescription for every circumstance is unrealistic. I think the 21 day myth is a *cute* idea for things like breaking minor habits — say, chewing on the ends of your hair or cracking your knuckles when nervous — but for very important long term changes, you gotta move at your own pace!

    By the way, I think you are photogenic, and I love your outfit! I wear flannel button down shirts and jeans ALL the damn time, and it is my favorite style! Plus, it never hurts to throw a dog into the photo for added cuteness.

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  5. rimonim

    I got this email too and haven’t written back cuz I couldn’t figure out how to respond. I’m not one for TV, but I’d be supportive of the project if it weren’t sensationalizing. But something in the letter just didn’t sit right. Just little things, like, “or even contemplating SRS” (emphasis added). Even?

    I really like your thoughtful response.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I think Rachel sent it out to all of the T-Central bloggers – which is actually a good selection set. The casting call sounded very “reality TVish” and then I found via Facebook all the other episode casting calls, including the Do You Want To Look Like Barbie one (no I want to look like Ken but not as plastic).
      I just wanted to call them out on the grouping Trans with general plastic surgery (I assume the Barbie wanna be’s are going in for breast augmentation and Botox) or other “life-style” changes.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Not only did it take me three weeks to get used to new glasses it took me more than three weeks to pick them out and make a decision (admittedly part of the delay was getting Donna to give her seal of approval, but that is also true with all the trans stuff as well).

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