For transgender writer, educator and performer Scott Turner Schofield, surgery was just a first step. Soon after leaving the hospital, he asked himself, “Now what?”
Schofield’s transformation took 127 steps, actually, and he will be sharing his experiences in his show, “Becoming a Man in 127 Steps,” this weekend at Miami-Dade College.
“These are my own experiences,” explained the Los Angeles-based performer. “The show is about being a person who became a man, but I wasn’t born one. It’s not a coming out or transition story. There are any number of television shows for that. It’s about living as a man when you were a radical feminist your entire life. It’s about opening up my head to you.”
Schofield who describes himself as 24 to 29 in “Hollywood” years, has been out as transgender for 18 years, a revelation that came when he first met another transgender man.
“It was the moment when I found the word, that the word could apply to me as a female body person. I identified as a lesbian, but I felt like the guy. I know there are butch lesbians who feel the same way, but butch lesbians and transgender men are not the same,” Schofield recalled. “It was like a lightbulb turned on. I knew I was a part of the LGBT community, but I thought the ‘T’ only applied to women.”
Armed with this knowledge, Schofield began his transition, but, as he was again quick to point out, that was a start in a long personal journey.
About a decade ago, he created “127 Steps,” his third one-man show, by writing and assembling vignettes of his experiences. Schofield, a former theater student at Emory University, uses playful storytelling, dramatizations and even silk fabric acrobatics to illustrate the lessons he learned about being a “man” after becoming one. Some are silly and others are touching, many involve the largely unnoticed, unwritten rules for men in modern society.
Each performance is unique. Since there is not enough time to share all 127 stories, Schofield asks the audience to spontaneously select numbers. Aided by a cheat sheet and distinctive props, his story unfolds at the whims of the audience.
In addition to performing in theaters and universities around the globe, Schofield brought the production to the Arsht Center eight years ago, one of the most successful runs.
“Solo performances have been so important to telling LGBT history,” Schofield pointed out, citing Tim Miller, an early member of the ACT UP movement who used theater to publicize the ravages of the AIDS era, and others who have shared their stories through the years. “I’m grounded in that very clear history.”
And, at practically every show, someone in the audience—no matter the venue—approaches him afterwards. They often announce, “I saw myself in your story.”
Schofield likes to tell the story of a group of five working class men who thought the show was some sort of “redneck comedy.” They probably never would have purchased tickets if they had known the true nature of the show, but told Schofield they walked out of the theater as “changed” persons.
“This is a show for people who don’t get—quote unquote—transgender stuff,” Schofield promised.
An important part of Schofield’s mission is education and, in addition to the performances, he will be leading workshops for LGBT youth in partnership with Pridelines and a transgender community forum while in Miami. Each performance also concludes with a Q&A session to discuss the issues that arise.
Scott Turner Schofield performs “Becoming a Man in 127 Steps” on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. at Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts Lab, Building 1, 300 NE Second Ave. in Miami. Tickets are $30 ($10 for students) at MDCLiveArts.org.