TeCo theater stands up for transgender people

shade schuler
Shade Schuler’s mirror selfie, via Myspace

When the Texas Legislature meets in January, the so-called “bathroom bill” will be high on the state senate’s list of priorities.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls it the “Women’s Privacy Act.” The bill would require transgender women to use men’s public restrooms and changing areas.

Says Patrick:

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A majority of Texans in both political parties and in every ethnic and demographic group believe that women and girls should have privacy and safety in their restrooms, showers and locker rooms. Unfortunately, legislation is necessary to assure that they do.

Transgender women (people marked at birth as male but who identify as female) are more likely than others to be the victims of violent crime.

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It’s in this political environment that Oak Cliff-based TeCo Theatrical Productions is making it a priority to stand up for transgender people.

The production company, which resides in the Bishop Arts Theatre Center on Tyler, is canceling its annual LGBT play festival in 2017 and instead staging a play that brings to light the hatred leveled at transgender people.

The play, “In the Tall Grass,” was written by British playwright Paul Kalburgi, and it’s about Shade Schuler, a 22-year-old transgender woman from Dallas whose decomposed body was found in a field in the Medical District in July 2015.

Shade’s story is set against the backdrop of wider atrocities across the US, which saw at least 23 trans or gender-nonconforming people murdered in 2015 alone – more than the total number of trans murders than in any other year that advocates have recorded.

 The play contains verbatim testimonies from transgender women of color, which Kalburgi spent hundreds of hours recording.

The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission On The Arts funded a reading workshop of “In the Tall Grass” at the South Dallas Cultural Center this past spring.

TeCo will stage “In the Tall Grass” Sept. 15– 24, 2017, and the Play Pride LGBT festival will return in 2018.

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