Trace Lysette tells why trans actors should get first dibs at transgender roles: 'We're out here struggling to play ourselves'

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·3 min read

“I was just going through my Twitter, minding my own business, and there pops up the link for your ‘SMB’ music video… ‘Self-Made B****es…” drag queen personality Monét X Change asks actress Trace Lysette — known for her roles in Transparent and Hustlers, as well as for being the one to call out her Transparent co-star Jeffrey Tambor in 2017 for alleged sexual harassment — on her virtual Yahoo series The X Change Rate this week. “What’s the tee?”

The tee, explains Lysette, is that she was inspired after shooting a film called Venus as a Boy, about an aspiring rapper and wanted to do a track for the movie. “Let me give them something with a message,” she says. “Something that related to me and my trans sisters.”

The song has “kind of a double meaning,” she explains, and refers to both being self-made in terms of her career and also being trans. “Nobody gave me permission to exist in the world like the woman that I am, but this is me and I’m going to take up space.”

X Change, pointing out a special flexing trick that Lysette does with her derriere in the music video, asks for lessons to do the same, which Lysette says she could easily provide. “It’s just some muscle isolations,” she says, adding that it’s something she’s good at since she was “a stripper for almost a decade, so that was paying the rent for a long time.”

When asked about the push for transgender actors to be the ones cast in trans roles, over cisgender actors, Lysette says she believes in it strongly — and that when people counter that by saying that cisgender actors should not be played by trans actors, it’s a false equivalency. “If all things were equal, maybe they would have a point, but all things are not equal, and so we’re out here struggling to play ourselves, let alone the superhero or the leading lady that isn’t trans. So when I can play Wonder Woman? Sure, have at it, you can have the trans roles.”

Trace Lysette attends the Amazon Studios Golden Globes After Party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in January, 2020 in California. (Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images)
Trace Lysette attends the Amazon Studios Golden Globes After Party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in January 2020 in California. (Photo: JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Lysette’s latest role has been behind the camera — as executive producer of the upcoming documentary Trans in Trumpland, which follows four transgender individuals in an attempt to “get to see what they were up against during the Trump administration” regarding the various attacks on their rights and existence.

If she could speak directly to the former president, Lysette says she would tell him, “The only way we’re going to cross this bridge between the way…marginalized folks think and the way other people in America think is if we really come at them from a place of love and compassion. So I wouldn’t mind having some kind of conversation with him.”

Read more from Yahoo Life:

Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.