FILMS > BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS
Produced and Directed by:
Josh Aronson and Ariel Orr Jordan
BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS is a film about the creation of the first all transgender production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and some of the extraordinary women who made it happen. This production was a first-ever gathering of the transsexual community's best and brightest from all over America. All of these women were born as boys. Some were still living in stealth and chose this performance and our film to come out.
The story began several years ago at Sundance when Jane Fonda met Calpernia Addams, whose life story was depicted in the movie, “Soldier’s Story.” Jane introduced Calpernia to Eve and this production was born. Organized produced and directed by Calpernia and Andrea James, this production took place on V-Day in LA.
BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS follows Eve interviewing the trans women which become her new monologue - weeks of auditions and rehearsals - back-stage jitters, a rollicking colorful GLBT Hollywood audience - and the performance itself - Beautiful Daughters captures it all in a one hour film.
BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS also focuses in on members of the cast and weaves their story into the film. All of these women have survived and endured – all of them have unique stories that speak to the diversity, strength and heroicism of transsexual women. Their stories help breakdown stereotypes of transsexual women.
Among our characters are:
Leslie Townsend, a gorgeous 40-something lady who worked as a highly paid private escort for many years. Leslie finally came to terms with why she’d turned to the sex industry and has started a new career as a real estate developer. Leslie came out as a transsexual when she did the Vagina Monologues.
Valerie Spencer, the outrageous and wise 6’2” African American woman who has her own unique perspective on what being trans means.
Lynn Conway, the lovely 60-something woman who was one of the first successful transsexual women in America: While living quietly in stealth, Lynn became one of the pioneers in modern computing. "Coming out" after decades of hiding her past, she now maintains a major transsexual support site on the internet.
Through dynamic entertaining scenes with the whole cast, BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS explores issues of crossing gender lines, the deep nature of intimacy, sexuality and fear of the feminine in our culture.
BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS is filled with entertaining brilliant people who have made deep personal decisions to survive and to thrive. These women are strong, disciplined and inspiring. They are role models.
Our hope is that this film will help turn the wheel towards a world that accepts the whole spectrum of gender amongst us and sees that as the norm, not as a call to violence.
BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS ~ More about our subjects
Lynn Conway is a famed pioneer of microelectronics chip design. She did most of her work as a female, living in total stealth for decades because of her earlier experiences at IBM in the 60’s as a young man. Despite her successes as a computer designer there, she was ostracized and forced out when she began to transition. Fully transitioned and with a new identity, she started all over again as entry level programmer and in several years became world renowned in the computer industry.
Today she is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science emerita at the University of Michigan and lives in rural Michigan with her husband Charlie. Lynn has dedicated herself to helping the cause of young trans women, and to spreading information that counters the many negative media stereotypes of transsexual people.
Lynn is the first truly successful trans woman to come out of long-term stealth and reveal her story – a story that will give hope to young transsexuals and will help parents see possibilities for happiness for a transsexual child.
Calpernia Addams grew up in a conservative Baptist family in the South and as a shy soft-faced boy she had a rough go of it. Calpernia’s father encouraged him endlessly to buck up and be a man until he finally joined the Marines and became a field nurse where his softness was acceptable. Calpernia left the army, transitioned to become a woman and worked as a showgirl near the marine base.
In a tragic story documented in her book and in the movie, Soldier’s Story, Calpernia’s US Army boyfriend, was brutally murdered by his bunk mates for the sin of dating a woman like Calpernia. She grieved his death but ultimately became a writer, producer and director, espousing the cause of Trans women. Cal’s conservative religious mother remains close to her but suffers her daughter’s transsexualism to this day causing Cal continuing anxiety. Their visits are regular but painful. Cal now lives in Los Angeles but is afraid to tell the men she dates that she’s a trans woman.
Valerie Spencer grew up in South Central Los Angeles where the understanding of gender differences was nonexistent. Valerie didn’t stay in school for long because for her that was a place of terrifying abuse and violence. She never understood the beatings she received for years from her father but now knows it was his deep disappointment that his little boy was really a little girl.
Valerie developed her personality and articulateness to learn to live with the harsh reality of transgender hate all around her. She was a woman who did not want to be categorized but her world refused and considered her a freak. Today, at 37, Valerie lives in Los Angeles with her mother surrounded by a community of family and friends. She says, “ I have issues like any other woman, I am unmarried, still single with no prospects and not making all the money I want, but when I look things over, I think I’ll keep the life I have.”
Valerie is dedicated to her work promoting public policy for HIV research, representing Transgender persons and lecturing on a wide range of issues for the GBLT community in Los Angeles.
Leslie Townsend, until she was 18, was a delicate young man who secretly liked other boys and who made his father crazy. When Dad finally found out his 18-year-old son wanted to be a girl he told his son that if he did this thing, he would never find a man to accept her as a woman, never have sex and her life would be a total failure. Leslie left home, went underground and, as she herself describes it, crawled through the gutter of the gay, trans underworld.
It was her life’s journey to prove her father wrong becoming first a woman, then a beautiful woman, then a model and finally working as a high class escort. She slept with hundreds of men and none of them ever knew. She married briefly and for 20 years she lived in total stealth. Her involvement in the Vagina Monologues and this film marks her decision to come out and tell the world who she is. To her it’s a plea for acceptance of other trans women struggling to find their way in a society that is slow to accept them.