An Open Letter to Chloë Sevigny’s Prosthetic Penis

 by: Kevin Sparrow 

Dear Prosthetic Penis,

My deepest sympathies go out to you. I am sure that it was not your choice to be attached to Chloë Sevigny, at least not without coercion, as I know how few roles there are out there for the prosthetic penis actor with Tell Me You Love Me off the air. You’ve received some unfair criticism from Miss Sevigny recently per her interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph for causing her emotional distress and concerns over her desirability while filming the lead role as a pre-operative trans woman in the UK series Hit & Miss. I know you had no culpability in this and can take no responsibility for Miss Sevigny’s trans diminutizing statements; you were just doing your job.

Had you the ability–and consciousness–you may have more carefully weighed your choice of scene partner. Sevigny is no stranger to controversy–from her first screen role in Kids to her Brown Bunny unsimulated fellatio; her critical comments for an Onion A.V. Club interview describing Big Love–her previous TV series for which she won a Golden Globe–as “awful” she later rescinded, ultimately causing bad blood with both the creators of the show and the A.V. Club interviewer. This sticks out as a clear indication that she may have a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease, having dismissed any number of these previous role choices. Sevigny has discussed the research she did for the role of Mia in Hit & Miss including discourse with MTF and FTM folk, and her sentiments about wearing you that “…looking in the mirror… was weird. I was lonely and I felt really unattractive” do speak to some degree of identification necessary for the role. Sevigny had the platform to speak to her own feelings of isolation, recognize her privilege that, at the end of the work day, she gets to take you off and live in the cis female body that she identifies as, and honor the reality of trans people who do not share that privilege. But she stopped at the level of her own experience, and she goes on to state, “I think it might be one of the most extreme roles I’ve done. If people can believe what’s-her-name in Avatar, hopefully they can believe me as a pre-op,” derailing the message through exoticizing and belittling the trans experience.
P.P., your journey does not have to end here. You can still go on to become a proxy member for another actor in a different role, or maybe it’s time to find another line of work, perhaps as somebody’s revered sex toy. Or a barista while you work things out. Chloë Sevigny may want to capitalize on her “extreme” image at the expense of transgender people, but you can be the bigger member and stand aside to allow actual trans people to represent themselves in media.

Best of luck,


Kevin Sparrow is a Chicago writer who is interested in Queerness is both a favorite subject and pastime. His education in movies-writing has proved that he is adept at powering up computers and elementary keyboard use. Sparrow’s short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in that order in Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly and LIES/ISLE, as well as on the website Be Yr Own Queero.


One response to “An Open Letter to Chloë Sevigny’s Prosthetic Penis

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