Trans Triumph

Trans actress shares her life-changing encounter with Laverne Cox

A new short documentary is centering actress and activist Joslyn DeFreece in a story of trans resilience. Between her recollections of growing up in a conservative midwestern family and coming out, DeFreece explains how sisterhood with her “first trans friend,” Laverne Cox, pulled her through those rough patches.

“Pieces of Me,” the new documentary produced by PFLAG, was released on March 30th to precede Trans Day of Visibility. The nearly 30-minute film uses footage from DeFreece’s adolescent years along with contemporary interviews where she looks back over her career and her efforts to find community.

An important first step was bonding with a trans person over something unrelated to being trans. In the documentary, DeFreece recalls when she and Laverne Cox first connected over the phone. “This was before Laverne Cox was Laverne Cox — she was just an actor who really loved acting,” said DeFreece. “And we talked for an hour about technique and the craft and really nerding out on acting. And Laverne was my first trans friend.”

Their shared love of acting provided an avenue to support one another both professionally and personally. “It was the first time I’d met another trans person, a person like me, who was nerding out on the same stuff that I was,” DeFreece said.

“To have someone that I could sit here and talk about the things that I was going to school for, and someone that would come over and sit at my apartment and, you know, talk about boys, talk about life, and then be equally as passionate about her career — it was everything.”

“Pieces of Me” is directed, produced, and written by Nick Oceano-Armendariz. In an interview with Huffington Post, Oceano-Armendariz said he made the film “help create empathy and a humanization of trans people” in the face of the anti-trans legislation sweeping red states.

“There are so many stories right now of ‘trans trauma’ ― but truly, we wanted people to really understand that when trans and nonbinary folks are loved and affirmed for who they are, they thrive,” Oceano-Armendariz said. “I hope that by sharing a human story ― from a person and storyteller like Joslyn, who was so wanting to be honest and vulnerable in this piece ― we’re going to reach some folks who maybe can’t get this message any other way.”

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