27 November 2009

Trans persons acting in soap operas, telenovelas and other dramatic serials on television

This is a first cut as such a list.   Feel free to add what is missing.


Guilda played Chevalier D’Eon in L'amour humain, 1970, Cinepix.
Carlotta played Robin Ross in Number 96, 1973, Network 10
Carlotta, then pre-op, was already a star in the Les Girls revue in Sydney.  She acted six episodes under the name Carolle Lea, and her identity was kept secret from cast and crew.  When Robin’s boyfriend asks her to marry him, she admits that she had previously been male.  The next day the switchboard at Channel 10 was jammed by viewers wanting to know whether the actor was male or female.
Christopher Morley played Sally Armitage in General Hospital, 1980, ABC
Morley played a friend of one of the main characters for three months, and attracted flirtatious interest of a male character.  This was played straight until she revealed that she was a “man”.  Some say that this was the inspiration for the movie Tootsie, two years later, where the Dustin Hoffman character impersonates a woman to get a job in the soap opera Southwest General Hospital.
Lily Savage played Roxanne in The Bill, 1988-90, Thames Television
Jahna Steele played Candace La Rue in NYPD Blue, 1995, Fox.
Karen Dior played Artiphys in Xena: Warrior Princess, 1997, Universal
Karen Dior played Monica/Dennis in Veronica’s Closet, 1998, NBC
Alexis Arquette played Cleo in The Strip, 1999, Warner Bros
Florencia De la Vega played Florencia de la Suciata in Amor Latino, 2000, Central Park
Alexis Arquette played Jim in Felicity, 2000, WB Television
Alexis Arquette played Caligula in Xena: Warrior Princess, 2001, Universal
Letitia Winter played herself in Emmerdale, 2001, Yorkshire Television
Alexandra Billings played Lois in Karen Sisco, 2003, ABC.
Alexandra’s Wikipedia page says “She is the first trans woman to have played a transgender character on television”.  Which is obviously not true.
Florencia De la Vega played Laisa Roldán in Los Roldán, 2004, Televisión Federal
Alexandra Billings played Ms Mitchell in ER, 2005, NBC
Alexandra Billings played Donna Gibson in Grey’s Anatomy, 2006, ABC
Candis Cayne played Carmelita Rainer in Dirty Sexy Money, 2007-8, ABC
Alexandra Billings played Joanna in Eli Stone, 2008, ABC
Alexis Arquette played lady in jail in Californication, 2008, Showtime
Pequeña P. in El ángel, 2009, Universidad Iberoamericana
This was terminated by Pequeña’s real-life suicide.

14 November 2009

Clara Vaughan, 1864 – a novel

R.D. Blackmore (1825 –1900) was one of the most famous English novelists in the second half of the nineteenth century, but since then his work has been largely forgotten except for Lorna Doone, 1869.

His first novel 'Clara Vaughan' was written in 1853 and published anonymously in 1864. The narrator is female and the Saturday Review, as part of an obsession of the period, was convinced that it had detected a female writer masquerading as a man.
'Another decided feature by which our lady novelists are wont to betray the secret of their authorship is the characteristic mode in which they unconsciously make sport of the simplest principles of physics, and of the most elementary rules or usages of the law.'
Some reviewers believed that the novel had been written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon who was popular at the time.

Blackmore was not only male, but he had practiced law in London for five years at that time.  The novel is now regarded as one of the very first detective stories.
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A male writer using the voice of a woman is an example of Narrative Transvestity or cross-writing.   It is sometimes referred to as Appropriation of Voice.

This example shows that attempts to detect the gender of a writer by style and by knowledge exhibited by the author/protagonist can lead to wrong conclusions.