Gender is no longer considered a fixed binary. This momentous shift in perception has allowed countless individuals to find their authentic selves. To affirm who we are, we rewrite our lives. I did exactly that. And having done my own rewriting, in 2015, I published my autobiography Tea and Transition - a story of love, the human spirit, and how one man became one woman.
I have personally been through the inversion of gender, emotions of rejection, and challenges of confronting something I never anticipated. I have also experienced bigger friendships, greater love, and deeper self-belief as the woman I now am. Above all, I know the joy of reaching the other side.
Drawing on every facet of that change, I have now developed “The Why Gene” - a film screenplay.
Nicky is a former DJ with exacting music taste. She has almost made it to the finishing line of gender evolution and now wants someone to share her new self with. First task: resolve sexuality. Once straight man, now straight woman. She never saw that coming. Secondly: find someone who doesn’t hold her past against her. Tough. Yet her biggest challenge is to find a man she loves with a respectable album collection. She can compromise on looks, style, or money, but never on The Smiths.
Based in New York, she dips her toe into the speed dating pool (too shallow), the cocktail bar scene (quite toxic), and has a chance encounter at the green market (wrong sexuality – and a fan of monolithic stadium rock). As Nicky’s best friend, Portia, explains, being a woman, single, and in your 40s, is the unholiest trinity in Manhattan. As a transgender, born-again virgin, this will be still harder. Her life beyond dating is also remarkable: a rite of passage through unwavering friendships and renewed family ties once thought irreparable. Plus, old vinyl, a few scones, and visits to her therapist.
Although the physical aspects of gender revision surgery are traversed, “The Why Gene” focuses mostly on the perceptions of others and the more subtle exploration of how Nicky's own perceptions of self change. She uses self-deprecating British humor to examine her gender flux, while the dry New Yorker humor of her friend Portia is the alternate voice of reason. Even though situations Nicky encounters are unfamiliar to most, they become scenarios the whole audience can not only appreciate but actually relate to. This moves “The Why Gene” beyond secular LGBT appeal.
Music is key to Nicky’s life and the film soundtrack will enhance that role. Just as Underworld defined Trainspotting, so will Kirsty MacColl, New Radicals, Jackie DeShannon, and Richard Hawley shine here.
Gender identity is a hot-button issue. Now it’s time to push that button.
If you are an experienced film maker who could share my vision, let's talk.
Nicola Jane Chase
"THE WHY GENE has found an honest and endearing protagonist... who bucks easy stereotypes and rejects the pandering, sentimental narratives typically ascribed to trans characters by the broader culture. This script provides a candid, moving portrait of its central figure, whose vibrant perspective and moments of ambivalence prevent her from becoming a caricature or political metaphor. The music element is fantastic, and while many specs have tried and failed to provide a successful on-the-page soundtrack, THE WHY GENE manages to fulfill its early promise of a "f***ing good soundtrack" with effortless curatorial style. There is no denying the vibrancy of THE WHY GENE."
THE BLKLST SCRIPT REVIEW
Photo credit: Des Bastin
nICOLA JANE CHASE
THE WHY GENE
A story of gender, friendship, sex, and scones