When Maureen Muldoon's son came out as transgender, the last thing that she thought would happen as a result of that would be a one-woman show. Still, the thought nagged at the former actress until she felt that it would be the best way to help not only herself but other families dealing with similar news. Eventually, the show "Trans-Parent Love" was born. Having toured with it across North America, Muldoon will be presenting it at a fundraising event for Grosse Pointe's chapter of PFLAG on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church.
Ahead of the show, Between The Lines caught up with Muldoon to learn more about what prompted the creation of the show, what to expect on stage and what she's learned about her own experience doing the show.
What can audiences expect when they go to see "Trans-Parent Love"?
There's two parts of it. There's a part on one side of the door where there's all the fears and what could happen and how do we do this? And how do we navigate this? And how incapable I am. Then the other part of it is when I walk through the door and get to the other side and actually sit in the conversation. But the second part of it wasn't really well-rounded [at first], because when we started this I was just beginning this conversation. So, each time we move forward with this conversation in our house, the show changes and there are more facets to it. There's more that I understand, there's more levels of acceptance. So, it's been an interesting journey to continue to bring it out and to grow with it.
And this show speaks primarily to the perspective of the parents, right?
The part that I kind of speak to is what it feels like for a parent to go through, so that's my story. And in some places, our stories overlap, but mostly I try to stay on my side of the street, which is what is my experience of having a transgender child — which I think is helpful. Because when somebody comes out as gay, you can still sit at the dining room table at Thanksgiving and nobody needs to know who is sleeping with who or why, but when somebody's transgender the whole family has to go on the trip. And we're all using a new name, and everything changes. And usually, unfortunately, there's many people who just don't know how to do that. And so, it gets messy and it gets unkind and it gets unhelpful. So yeah, to bring to light that it's a struggle, and just because the person who is transgender has been thinking about this for years before they bring it out, that doesn't that for the parents it's not going to feel like an, 'Oh, shit,' moment. Even if you have your speculations, it's still something that you have to have compassion as we move through the conversation.
How did your son feel about being the subject of the show?
In my house we all really know each other, and he was raised in a house where we did shows. We're show people (laughs). For him, he had a lot of different thoughts and feelings about it. And I think that, for the most part, he feels like an ambassador and that he feels OK sharing his story. What's interesting about this story is I realize as I'm doing it that I have a story about my daughter becoming my transgender son and working through the transformation of that. And that one day that will just be my son and he might not ever identify as transgender. And so, then this show will be done because that's his story.
What are some of your favorite aspects of "Trans-Parent Love"?
I think it's a great opportunity to get emotional. This is a safe space to share emotions and people do. People laugh. People cry. People come out. So, if you're willing to have the conversation you have to be willing to deal with everything that that means and comes with this conversation. It will get messy, it will be emotional, it will be funny, it will be awkward and we will survive it.
Were you surprised at how well the show has been received since you started touring with it?
The interesting thing was that this was not on my vision board. The show, I let it have a life of its own because it just goes where people need to hear it and I don't really promote it. At this point, I think I should but it's been invited here and there and it's kind of nice because I have a regular life with four kids and running other things. But I do think it's a super important conversation trying not to reluctant about bringing it out where it needs to be brought out, but now it's going to be in New York and Los Angeles and Nova Scotia. So it's been an interesting process. Usually, after each show, I think the most important part of the show is that afterward, we have a community conversation. And that's where this good stuff happens.
"Trans-Parent Love" will be performed on Friday, Feb. 7, at a fundraising event for Grosse Pointe's chapter of PFLAG at the Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church. The Church is located at 17150 Maumee Ave. in Grosse Pointe. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Find out more online at trans-parentlove.eventbrite.com.