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Ten Reasons We Love M.C. Brennan


Photo: Mychele Dee

M.C. Brennan is a Jane of all trades: a filmmaker, scriptwriter, actress, singer, designer and, apparently she has a killer outside jump shot. With a resume like this, Brennan offers more than 10 reasons to love her:

1. She knows great movies. As an actress she played parts in films like 1985’s feminist teen cult hit Just One of the Guys and shows like Northern Exposure. Her latest screenplay, Dramatis Personae, won her the Outfest Screenwriting Lab Fellowship and first prize at the Rhode Island International Film Fest. The story follows Kit Kelley, a whip-smart transgender girl from “the wrong side of the trailer park” and her love affair with rich kid Alex. “It’s sort of Pretty in Pink meets Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Or The Way We Were with cock jokes,” admits the screenwriter.

2. She’s funny as hell. She’s working on “scandalous tell-all memoir that I guarantee will be at least 57 percent accurate, but not more than 60 percent. I don’t want to anger Oprah so I need to get that out there up front.”

3. She spent the night at Jamie Babbit’s house. When she had “just a minor extra” in the cult lesbian hit Itty Bitty Titty Committee, Brennan reportedly spent the night at lesbian director Jamie Babbit’s house, “which sounds more salacious than it was,” Brennan jokes. “The scenes I was in were shot at her house overnight, which was a lot of fun. The wonderful Guinevere Turner was one of my mentors at the Outfest lab and she really did star in the movie, and if I claim I was the big star she will find me and kill me.”

4. She can laugh at herself. “From an early age I recognized the cosmic absurdity of my situation, and I think the ability to laugh at myself and at life’s little ironies is one of the reasons I’m still on this nutty planet,” says Brennan, who calls herself, “the Alyssa Milano of the middle-aged hausfrau set. There are a lot of growing up trans books out there, but how many of them involve the author as a young child, wearing an Easter Bonnet, doggedly chasing a fleeing Mickey Rooney across the horse track?” Brennan calls the book “Huckelberry Finn meets Hollywood Wives. Or Are You There God, It’s Me Catie, What the Hell am I Supposed to Do With This Thing?

5. She’s doesn’t put herself in a box. As a trans artist it’s easy to be pigeonholed, but Brennan resists those limitations. “Content is important, but I also think we as a community need to pull together and support each other, champion our artists and give them the attention they might not receive in the non-LGBT industry,” she says. “I hope the community will continue to nurture and embrace our artists, even when they work outside exclusively LGBT content.”

6. She almost became the first transgender rock star. “When I was younger I did have aspirations of being the first great transgender rock star—sort of Bowie meets Bono, only with a better rack.”

7. Her great-grandmother was her mentor. Although she passed away in 2001, five days short of her 100th birthday, Brennan’s great-grandmother was supportive of her gender transition and her career and, according to Brennan, she wasn’t surprised by either. “One of the last things she did in her life was to star in a short film I directed called Grandma Shoots, Grandma Scores in which she got to shoot hoops all day,” says Brennan. “She was a high school basketball star—in 1914—so she got to show off her skills. She had a great screen presence. I wish we could have made another film.”

8. She lets her work speak for itself. Explaining what it means to be a trans woman who dates other women can be laborious so Brennan doesn’t feel the need to explain herself. “I was pretty early in my career when I was worried about those things, and I don’t worry about it now. I’m not living in a huge house in the hills, but I think if the script is good, that’s really all that matters,” she says. “The beauty of words on a page…is that it’s beyond gender and sexuality and race and age—it’s the ideas that count.”

9. She’s an activist. As a queer transgender  filmmaker, Brennan understands the need for positive representations of trans people. “I know how difficult it is for trans actors to find work that isn’t a degrading stereotype,” she says. And this is especially true for comedies. “We need trans comedies where the trans person is not the joke. My lead character, Kit Kelley, has a lot of smartass remarks and irreverent jokes about being trans, but it’s her that’s telling them, in a positive way, expressing the truth of her life. She’s got a fierce wit and an indomitable spirit. She’s not standing there clueless while the filmmaker and the audience chuckle at the weirdo.”

10. She sees untapped potential in the trans community. “Trans artists—trans people—are changing everything,” says Brennan. She lists survival, perseverance, new expressions of gender and new ways of existing in the world as some of the things to be learned from the trans community. “The things we go through in order to be ourselves may not be typical, but the yearning for authenticity and meaning in a homogenized world is universal. The more of us who are out there telling our stories, the more people will understand that. We revolutionize this world by the simple act of existing, by not going away.”

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