When my ex-husband first began to dress as a woman, my second husband, Tommy, and I invited her to our home. "You look great," I said as I kissed her cheek. "But you need earrings." I placed my mother's clip-ons on her ears. "They're only costume," I added as I handed her a mirror. "Faux pearls."
I would've never envisioned this scene when my first marriage fell apart in 1990. It was only in 2011, when I was already married to Tommy, that my ex-spouse told me that she was transgender. Through Transparent, the show my daughter Jill created inspired by our family life, I've met many trans women who told me of the pain of keeping the giant secret, some who felt as if they were trapped in a false marriage.
Elaine Soloway is not Shelly Pfefferman. Amazon's new TV series "Transparent," praised by some critics as the best new show of the fall season, is not the story of her family.Soloway can't say that strongly enough. It's fiction.And yet the other day, when she was alone on her couch, in bare feet, with a meal tray in her lap, watching episode nine — the part where the character named Ed says to the character named Shelly, "I'm just here to make you happy" — she cried.
Next time you move cross-country to Los Angeles, do it the Elaine Soloway way. (The SoloWay?) Pack whatever you can into flat-rate Priority Mail boxes from the post office and mail them over a period of six months. Get a place on airbnb.com in a hip L.A. neighborhood, close to shops, restaurants and the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv comedy theater that reminds one of their connections to Chicago’s Annoyance Theater.