Transgender actor makes finals of reality dating show
Photo courtesy Out North Scott Turner Schofield is shown in a scene from "Debutante Balls" at Out North theater company. Schofield, who was born female, competed recently as one of 30 bachelors on ABC's "Conveyor Belt of Love." Published: 01/09/10 5:16 pm
Alaskans who watched "Conveyor Belt of Love" on KIMO Channel 13 Monday night might have recognized Scott Turner Schofield. The transgender playwright and performer is associated with Anchorage's Out North theater company where he is the current guest artistic director.
Schofield was part of a male meat market on ABC's latest reality dating show. The set consisted of a conveyor belt that brought men before five leggy models. Each contestant had 60 seconds to sell himself as a potential date. The women indicated whether they were interested or not with auction-style paddles.
Cute, charming, animated, self-assured and blond, Schofield finished in the final four out of a field of 30.
Few viewers would have guessed that the eligible bachelor was born a girl named Katie. On his Web site (undergroundtransit.com/Bio.html) he describes himself as "a man who was a woman, a lesbian turned straight guy who is usually taken for a gay teenager."
"I always felt different," he said in an interview. "Even as a kid. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, 'I wanna be a boy.'"
As a teenager, Schofield gave in to pressure to act more like a girl. "And I did it very well. I was on the homecoming court and attended three debutante balls." The latter experience is the subject of a one-man play he'll present at Out North this month.
As a high schooler in Charlotte, N.C., Katie realized that she liked girls better than boys. "I figured I must be a lesbian, but something still didn't feel quite right," Schofield said.
When he was 19, he met someone who was born female and now lived as a male. It was a revelation. "I didn't know that a girl could become a guy."
He changed his name and began to take hormones that altered his secondary sexual characteristics, such as lowering his voice and causing him to grow facial hair. His play about the legal, medical and social aspects of the change, "Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps," was presented at Out North in 2008.
During that residency, he presented workshops for young people at McLaughlin Youth Center. He called the experience "particularly powerful. It reminded me of why I got into theater in the first place."
He talked with Out North Executive Director Mike Huelsman about coming back to continue that work. When Huelsman took a sabbatical this fall, he invited Schofield to fill in for him for six weeks, a gig that juggled administrative tasks with a return engagement at McLaughlin. When that job wraps up this month, he'll go to New York City to study and write thanks to a grant from the Princess Grace Foundation.
Schofield got the "Conveyor Belt of Love" call by "applying for everything that's out there."
That's about all he could say about it because of a confidentiality clause in the contract.
It's unclear whether the show's producers knew of his status as a "transgender" person, the word Schofield prefers to "transsexual."
It's also unclear whether there will be a second "Conveyor Belt of Love" episode. The show -- created as a stand-alone special by parties responsible for "Survivor" and "Big Brother" -- was panned by critics for its "glacial pace" and too many ridiculous contestants.
But the New York Daily News reports that more episodes may be ordered.
As for Schofield, he sounded a little disappointed at being "passed up for a guitar player" in the final round. However, he added, "I had a very positive experience, the whole thing."