V.i remember Transparent? The famous TV series of 2014 – lasting 4 years – about the tragicomic adventures of the pater familias Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) who changes sexual identity? Here, in that series Trace Lysette was Shea, a transgender, yoga instructor and also a stripper, who guided him through the complex gender transition. Then we saw her twist on the pole with Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu in Hustlers (The Wall Street girls), and recently in his video SMB, with which he debuted in the realm of music. «If you are a trans actor your space is very limited – she explains to me – for this reason I want to expand in other directions ».

    Trace Lysette starring in “Monica”

    Trace Lysette had long dreamed of a different role, one that would allow her to tell an important story, true and where she did not once again have a role behind the scenes. And finally, she says she, the opportunity has come with Monicathe film directed by Andrea Pallaoro in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Here Lysette in fact appears in every scene of the film, as an Ohio transsexual who, after years of living in Los Angeles, returns home to see her sick mother again.

    Trace Lysette in the role of Monica, the film by Andrea Pallaoro in competition at Venice 79

    LGBTQ rights activist

    It is a strong and intense part that crowns years of work, auditions, battles and frustrations – she says – for her trans actress and woman active in LGBTQ movements (she was among the first to accuse Jeffrey Tambor of harassment and the actor was later eliminated from the program, ed). «It wasn’t easy, believe me … You think that even today I don’t have anyone who wants to represent me».

    Via Zoom, Trace tells us his story with a disarming candor: cLike the Monica in the film, she is a strong woman, but also sweet and vulnerable. She is beautiful, dark blond hair, high cheekbones, clean face. She answers the questions by choosing her words carefully, in a low, almost shy voice. She helps herself by moving her long slender fingers, crowned with white-painted nails.

    Trace Lysette: “The points in common between me and Monica”

    «This role is important because many trans women will identify with Monica, and for me in particular to tell his story through his eyes was cathartic: I relived events that I have already lived, there are always points in common with the lives of others! She grew up in Ohio in a traditional family, in a rather conservative environment. It must not have been easy to be and feel different. I grew up in a Catholic and partly Italian family (the grandmother was from Decorata, a village about forty kilometers from Benevento). And no, it wasn’t easy.

    It all started early for me, I remember doing mini shows in my grandparents’ basement where I sang the songs of Dirty Dancing. I also remember playing Barbie dolls with my sister. And then the scuffles at school. When, bigger, the other children began to notice my femininity, I was made the object of ridicule, so many physical and verbal fights ensued, many blows, always. Eventually I had become violent. In the third year of high school, I changed schools. In art high school in Dayton, Ohio, I finally met other guys like me who were, perhaps, LGBTQs and could understand me.

    The relationship with the mother

    In the film, Monica returns home after so many years only when her mother is now very ill. “In my case, with my mother I had a few years of crisis, but I don’t like to stress those times because my mother was not at fault, her reaction reflected the thought that society had instilled in her. I applaud her now, I am infinitely grateful to her for accepting me and for loving me as I am. And I am grateful to her because – unlike Monica – we have not wasted twenty years of our life in vain. Today mom is my most enthusiastic supporterI love her more than anything in the world ».

    From MeToo to LGBTQ activism: has the world changed?

    “I wish I could tell you everything’s changed,” says Trace Lysette, “but not as far as I’m concerned. Maybe after the Venice Film Festival I will be inundated with requests; certainly not now, I don’t even have a project in my drawer. I have been acting for about fifteen years and this is the first time that I have been offered a leading role. I don’t want to say that there have been no steps forward, I can only talk to her about my professional path and unfortunately I think it is similar for most trans actors. In only one case, Hustlers, I played a woman, but it was a supporting role. I hope that one day all this will change ».

    “Men are looking for trans, but not to make a family”

    “My personal aspirations? I think more and more of the family, but I must first find some professional and financial security, and then maybe a partner. I often think about love, I am deeply romantic. But, for heaven’s sake, let’s not lie to each other: men often wish to have relationships with transgender women, but never consider them as possible, real partners, they would never introduce them to the family, and it doesn’t matter your look, your presence. For now they cannot overcome this block ».

    The Hope of Great Love by Trace Lysette

    “So I learned to love myself, I have many interests and activities that excite me, that make me feel good, and I don’t want to delude myself and attach myself to someone who is unable to love me for who I am and how I am. I have found joy in more casual, non-definitive relationships. But the hope of great love remains within me.

    Playing Monica gave me a boost of confidence, I was in every scene of the film and now I know that I am capable of facing another equally challenging test. And when I show up for my next audition, I will have the strength and confidence to show off my acting skills. I will keep this experience with me, the energy and the awareness it gave me, and all this will allow me to continue along this path “

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