‘It was me against the world,’ Victoria Beltran tells me on a chilly day in New York City’s Central Park. She’s talking about her experience being outed by the New York Post back in 2013.
Before this, Beltran didn’t disclose her transgender status when going on auditions. In fact, she was cast as a cis woman in films like Sex and the City 2 and The Dictator.
Beltran, who is from a Mexican-American family, grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. ‘I felt like I was a boy who grew up into a woman,’ she says of her gender identity.
Though Beltran began taking hormones at age 14, she never really thought about it as a transition—more like an progression or evolution. She never felt like she hated herself or her body.
‘Every woman has her own journey,’ she says.
Beltran was friends with a group of teens who found their way through new wave music and Texas’ drag scene. It was through this group of friends that she got her name, inspired by Tori Amos.
Luckily, her parents were supportive of her (though her dad took longer to come around than her mom).
Beltran recalls she was once called into her school’s guidance office after she had been taking hormones and started growing breasts. The guidance counselor told her to wear a bra.
At age 17, Beltran experimented by shaving her head like Sinead O’Connor. She bought and wore men’s clothes, but didn’t feel right. She felt like a drag king—a girl pretending to be a guy.
‘It’s more than just being in drag or putting girls clothes on,’ Beltran says of her gender. ‘I feel most comfortable as a woman.’
‘Clothes and makeup doesn’t make a gender, but everything that goes along with it.’
Unfortunately, many of Beltran’s trans friends from Texas have been murdered. ‘I’m the last of the unicorns standing,’ she says with a forlorn look in her eyes.
Beltran moved to New York at age 18 and started her career as a model. She worked for Maxim Magazine, Dior, L’Oreal, and was featured in a fragrance commercial with Rob Pattinson.
At first, Beltran was afraid of acting because she was self-conscious about her voice. She felt like her voice would cause her to get outed. She couldn’t tell her agents that she was trans, either, for she feared it would affect her ability to get booked.
Still, Beltran managed to get booked as extras in indie movies. She even had speaking roles on television shows like Law & Order and Ugly Betty.
After she was outed in May of 2013, Beltran didn’t know what direction to go in career-wise. Roles made for trans women were scarce.
GLAAD called Beltran in after the New York Post’s article ran. It was through GLAAD that Beltran was introduced to Laverne Cox, pre-Orange Is The New Black fame. They are still friends to this day.
Beltran ended up taking some time away from her career to attend LGBTI acting classes for a few years, with the hope they’d help get her confidence back. She was introduced to these classes by trans actress Jamie Clayton, who Beltran met through Cox.
Cox and other trans actors really helped Beltran through this hard time. Specifically, Cox inspired Beltran by letting her know that trans girls no longer had to hide. Though it took Beltran a year to realize it was okay to be out, the LGBTI community in NYC had no problem embracing her.
Present and Future
Beltran has bounced back stronger than ever. She still auditions for cis women roles, as she finds that more often than not, trans roles focus on anatomy.
Acting is about playing parts. So Beltran doesn’t see the need for her trans status to be disclosed at each audition. ‘[The characters] are not based on who I am, but based on who the writers and directors want me to be at the time,’ she says.
Through her connections from the LGBTI acting classes, Beltran landed a role in the upcoming film, Deadman’s Barstool. They casted her as the role of Carla, a Latina reporter.
Beltran was also recently cast as a mother in the upcoming movie Play.
Now, looking back, Beltran says she wouldn’t change anything about the course of her life—even being outed. To her, it all adds to her journey.
‘I feel like we’re all connected,’ she says. ‘The trans thing is just the tip of what’s to come.’
‘It’s good for people like me to be open and to speak so people around the world can have guidance,’ she says, referring to all the young trans kids out there who may not have proper resources. ‘There is purpose for me.’
‘Pink and blue are just colors and together, they make this beautiful indigo,’ Beltran says. ‘And that’s what the future is—it’s about our souls.’