Actor Maybe Burke Addresses Misgendering In Reviews Of 'safeword.'

Actor Maybe Burke Addresses Misgendering In Reviews Of 'safeword.'

Actor and activist Maybe Burke, currently appearing in the new play safeword at The American Theatre of Actors, took to social media this week to address multiple instances of misgendering in reviews of the play.

Burke's post, which has since gone viral. offers an in-depth look at the harmful repercussions of misgendering.

They write,

"For those of you who have never been misgendered (or those who experience it differently than I do) let me explain what went through my mind. To see myself publicly called a man and by he/him pronouns was not only invalidating, but incredibly triggering. During shows this weekend I cried when putting on dresses. I got in my head about what people were thinking about me in the middle of scenes. I was unable to perform the show at my best because my joy and my comfort had been stripped from me.

Most of all, I felt that I had let my community down. And that thought still hurts. I have done a lot of work to make myself a public figure who is openly transgender and non-binary. I have leveraged the privilege I have to be able to work on projects like this in order to gain visibility for people like me. And all of a sudden I felt like a fraud. I felt like my work wasn't working. And I was scared I had disappointed the people who needed me the most."

See the full post below:

I was misgendered in every review I read of @safewordtheplay this weekend. Most of them just called me and my character by he/him pronouns, (we both use they/them) but some went as far to call me things like a "man in women's dress." I wasn't shocked, but I was unprepared for the effect it would have on me. Some of the critics have made edits to correct their mistakes, but their mark has been made. For those of you who have never been misgendered (or those who experience it differently than I do) let me explain what went through my mind. To see myself publicly called a man and by he/him pronouns was not only invalidating, but incredibly triggering. During shows this weekend I cried when putting on dresses. I got in my head about what people were thinking about me in the middle of scenes. I was unable to perform the show at my best because my joy and my comfort had been stripped from me. Most of all, I felt that I had let my community down. And that thought still hurts. I have done a lot of work to make myself a public figure who is openly transgender and non-binary. I have leveraged the privilege I have to be able to work on projects like this in order to gain visibility for people like me. And all of a sudden I felt like a fraud. I felt like my work wasn't working. And I was scared I had disappointed the people who needed me the most. safeword. exists as a piece of theatre that tries to let a non-binary human exist without having to explain their identity to the audience. While I am grateful to be able to play a character who doesn't have to get on a soapbox, I wish audiences were ready to see a show and not project gender onto the people in front of them. Think about it. How many times have you seen a "man in women's dress" on stage? Kinky Boots. La Cage. Hedwig. Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Hairspray. Chicago. Matilda. Tootsie. The list goes on. Trans femmes are set up for failure in an industry that still produces shows with men dressed "as women" for laughs. This conversation is about more than me. This conversation is about more than reviews. This conversation is about who is impacted by the stories we tell. This conversation needs to happen now.

A post shared by Maybe Burke (@believeinmaybe) on Apr 29, 2019 at 6:52am PDT

Maybe Burke is an actor, writer, and human rights advocate telling the stories that haven't been told. Their work has been seen at Joe's Pub, Lincoln Center, Cherry Lane Theatre, Ars Nova, New Dramatists, HERE Arts Center, The NYC LGBTQ Center, and more. NYC: Red Emma & the Mad Monk (The Tank, Ars Nova), Love Letters to Nobody (The Brick, The Wild Project), TB Sheets (ARTNY). TV: The Deuce (HBO), Tales of The City (Netflix). Maybe Received the 2018 Fresh Fruit Spirit Award for "Fostering Pride, Survival, History, and Progress," and they were nominated for the 2018 Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. As the Artistic Associate of Honest Accomplice Theatre, they founded The Trans Literacy Project, available on YouTube. @believeinmaybe maybeburke.com

safeword. plays Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 PM; Saturday at 3 PM & 8 PM; Sunday at 2 PM & 7 PM. Tickets to safeword. are $49-$69 and are available by visiting safewordtheplay.com or by calling 866-811-4111 or by visiting The American Theatre of Actors (314 W 54 Street, NYC).


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