‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’
Through July 1
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Md.
In early January, Dezi Bing had a sort of epiphany. She knew without a doubt that the day had come to begin her transition in earnest.
“I was ready to stop being afraid and stop being sad. Whether it was God nudging me, I don’t know,” Bing says. “But I started hormones a couple weeks later and ever since have felt like I’m coming into alignment.”
For Bing, 34, transition hasn’t come without risks. Before beginning her journey, she was known as Desmond Bing, a popular and busy young actor with an impressive resume.
“Professionally, it was a risk,” she says. “But I believed in my talent. I knew someone out there would want me for something. I bring a lot to the table as an actor. I also write plays. I finished a playwrighting fellowship at the Kennedy Center last year. I knew my gifts. I was ready.”
Evidently the theater community agrees. Currently Bing is playing two parts in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” at Round House Theatre in Bethesda. Penned by out playwright Matthew Lopez, it’s the story of Casey (Zack Powell), a failed Elvis impersonator who unwittingly finds success and friendship as a drag queen. Bing plays Casey’s loyal friend Jason, a straight guy who has dated a gender nonconformist. Not what you might expect from a good ole boy from the Florida Panhandle. Bing also plays Rexy, a resilient drag queen who’s both street and book smart.
Dressed in T-shirt, tights and baseball cap, Bing dines on takeout chicken and chats before an evening performance at Round House.
“I’m not sure where my career will go exactly. But as my body continues to change I’ll be up for more roles,” she says. “But I still am misgendered a lot. I still get called ‘sir’ because my voice is masculine and that may or may not change. I don’t feel very masculine but I guess I am to some people.”
As a little boy, Bing wanted to get through this life and come back as a girl. And when Bing started having crushes on boys, she assumed she was gay, yet most of her intimate relationships have been with men who identify as straight. (She’s currently single.) But it was while looking at trans woman Laverne Cox’s Instagram account that a streak of recognition hit her: “I thought this is me! Like me, she also suffered from depression too. Hard to be in the world when you feel out of place. It was a realization of who I actually was.”
But there were lingering concerns and self-doubts about career, hormones and whether she would ever be passable as a girl. Prior to Bing’s life-changing day in January, she spent four years getting to the place where she felt ready to transition. Today Bing exudes confidence and warmth. She makes a safe home in Northwest, D.C. with supportive housemates and spends time with friends.
“I think makeup is fun and it makes me feel pretty but I don’t want it to be a prison,” she says. “That aspect of femininity doesn’t interest me. It can be counterproductive. For me this is about becoming authentic and actually becoming the person who I’ve always been.”
For now, Bing’s mother is having a hard time seeing Bing as her daughter.
“She still sees me as her little boy. But it’s time for me to assert myself with my mom in a way that’s not rude. It’s important for me to step into my authentic adulthood. This is who I am. And this is how it’s going to be. She’ll get used to it.”