Before the series Transparent, Jill Soloway was a feminine-presenting straight lady with a husband and two kids. She was, by all appearances, the model of the typical American family—albeit one with more than its share of success. Before striking out on her own, Soloway wrote for Six Feet Under, among other shows.
But over the course of making Transparent—which is based on Soloway's own family's experience of a parent transitioning later in life—Soloway changed as well. Today, Soloway identifies as queer, masculine of center, and nonbinary, and prefers the pronoun "they." Their new book, She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy, is in part about this transformation, and also about how creating Transparent and becoming a part of the queer community opened their eyes to a whole other way of living.
She Wants It, however, is more than a memoir. It's also a manifesto about the rest of us—about men and women and everyone else, about how this particular moment in time is forcing us to reckon with a sometimes dark and destructive present as well as our national past. "Women spend the first half of our lives afraid we're going to get raped and the second half afraid we're going to find a lump," Soloway writes.
This, of course, simplifies what it means to be a woman, but it's a point that's become more salient over the past year, as countless numbers of women have come forth to share their stories of abuse. And Soloway's own show was not without an abuse scandal of its own: This year, star Jeffrey Tambor was ousted after several people involved with the show accused him of inappropriate behavior and sexual conduct.
The show will go on—not, however, with him. For those hoping She Wants It will delve into that particular episode, prepare yourself to be disappointed. She Wants It may be intimate and revealing, but not so much about that.
At the Town Hall sponsored event (Tuesday, October 23, at Temple De Hirsch Sinai), Soloway will be joined onstage by Morgan Parker—the award-winning author of the poetry volume There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, as well as the forthcoming volume Magical Negro—and Hannah Gadsby, the Tasmanian comic who rocketed to stardom with her strange, affecting, and exceedingly vulnerable Netflix stand-up special Nanette earlier this year.
There will be surprise guests as well, and attendees should expect this event to be anything but a staid book reading with the usual Q&A. Instead, there will be heated discussion, part of Soloway's apparent longtime dream of turning feminist discourse into a spectator sport. What does that mean? No idea. You'll have to show up to find out.