You Should Know … Tyler Vile

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Tyler Vile
Tyler Vile (Morgan Phillips)

Tyler Vile, 27, is a published author of Jewish stories.

It’s important to her to include women, LGBTQ characters and characters with disabilities in her stories. She’s currently working on a poem centering around midrashim.


Vile, a trans woman with cerebral palsy who grew up in Pikesville, is also a co-founder of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl.


Why do you like writing?

Poetry offers us a level of reconstructing everyday language. We can think of everything we say to each other as literature. There would be no life without language: “In the beginning was the word.” So all language is spiritual but also grounded. Whether I’m writing a poem or a story or an article or a sermon, there’s always some kind of angle to make it my own and creative.

 

What does representation mean to you, as a member of the LGBTQ community?

Representation to me is the opposite of tokenism. I think a lot of media is conflating tokenism with representation. In terms of an identity, whether LGBTQ or POC or disabled, we are seeing more characters from more diverse experiences, but sometimes they don’t get the level of nuance that straight, white, cisgender able-bodied characters get.

I think about “Stranger Things,” where they introduced the gay character. She gets a monologue, but the straight characters get full romances.

So one show I’m watching that I enjoy the representation on is “Schitt’s Creek.” I think it does a wonderful job of weaving in the complexity of different identities with a Jewish sense of humor.

 

What else do you watch?

I like anything with a good narrative. One of my favorite comedies is “The Frisco Kid” with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford in a Jewish community. Oh, my God, it’s so funny! There’s one scene where Gene Wilder won’t get on a horse because it’s Shabbos so they’re ducking their heads to see when the sun sets.

“Moonlight” is really wonderful. I read the play it was based on. It had a rich texture to the language. You can tell, oh, that’s why they shot this scene that way. It inspired me to get back into writing screenplays.

 

What about your identity are you proud of?

Being a family member of Hinenu. It’s something that is going to outlive me. You grow up in Baltimore and see these old synagogues that have been here since the turn of the century. To be a 3-year-old baby synagogue that started with a couple of us around the table having coffee dreaming about what it could be, it’s blossomed into this incredible thing.

 

What do you wish people knew about cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella diagnosis, meaning that no two people are going to experience symptoms in the same way. I have a bunch of friends with cerebral palsy, and we all have different experiences.

There’s a lot of narrative around kids with cerebral palsy, but you realize there’s not as much support for adults. We’re one of the only states with a department of disabilities. What I’ve had to learn is there are a lot more resources, but they aren’t publicized.

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