I’ve gotten to the point where getting me to watch a non-documentary about or featuring presentations of TS/TG folks is almost as easy as convincing me to let a friend of mine who owns a Dremel Tool and pair of vice grips to practice amateur dentistry on me.
Needless to say, short of someone threatening me with a gun, it is unlikely that I will watch Jared Leto don black face and sing “Mammy”. Oh wait he didn’t don black face he put on a dress to become a heroic straight white man playing a poor oppressed trans-woman with AIDS.
How brave… How heroic… How challenging…
Fuck that shit…
Challenging is living our lives with a modicum of dignity.
Challenging is never getting to be the ones who control our own narratives without having cis-gender people appropriate our lives and stereotype us as pathetic drag queens with AIDS, sex workers, murder victims and performers.
Because you know we are never ever musicians, techies, artists, writers, teachers, doctors or the girl next door.
This puts me well within the ranks of those saying ENOUGH… No More Cis-gender People Playing Trans-Folks…
See Huffington Post: Jared Leto’s Oscar Win For ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Criticized By Transgender Community
It is more acceptable for a cis-gender woman to play a trans-woman than it is for a man to do so.
One perpetuates the “Man in a Dress” trope. The other doesn’t.
Therefore “TransAmerica” was more acceptable than “Dallas Buyers Club”. Olympia Dukakis in Tales of the City falls in that category.
I don’t do Netflix although Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black is almost enough to get me to do so.
If cis-gender men want to play a trans-person perhaps they should try out for the numerous roles of trans-men in film.
Oh wait aside from Brandon Teena there haven’t been any role presenting trans-men in film because they aren’t sex workers or murder victims, Brandon Teena being the exception to that general rule.
Part of the casting of men to play trans-women and women to portray trans-men is the cementing of the trope that we are always the sex we were assigned at birth.
Back in the late 1990s when I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Service Center’s “The Village” I was comped a ticket for the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival screening of “Different for Girls”.
After the screening I stayed for the talk with the director, the oh so sensitive director.
Everyone cooed about how sensitive the film was and how it told a real story.
I was really pissed off because it was a rehash of the common tragic trans tropes. As usual the trans-woman was portrayed by a cis-man in a dress, replete with silicone body suit ala some of the fetish folks.
True to my general bitchiness when torqued off I had to ask:
“How come with all the transsexual and transgender women in Great Britain you couldn’t find a trans-actress to play this role? Why did you have to use a cis-gender man?
He hemmed and hawed a bit saying that he had Faye Presto, a British magician and entertainer as a technical consultant on the film. Then he said that the trans-women who tried out for the part were so real no one would believe they were trans and that it was impossible to find a transsexual woman who brought the gender ambiguity he was searching for and trying to portray.
We come of as too real to actually portray transsexual women on the screen. Okay I guess that means trans-women who are actresses find all sorts of roles as cis-gender women open to them.
Buuuht… Fuck me, wrong again. Trans-actresses, particularly out trans-actresses, (and make no mistake about it in this internet era we are all a few clicks from being out) are told they can’t credibly play non-trans roles because people knowing they are trans won’t view them as non-trans-women.
That sort of blows one of Calpernia Addams arguments in the Advocate article, In Defense of Jared Leto out of the water.
“I caution others to remember, however, that the same logic that leaves zero room for a nontrans actor to try a trans role will be used to mandate that trans actors should not be able to play nontrans roles. And that would piss me off.”
Actually I think that argument would be a lot more effective if there were actually non-trans roles open to trans-actresses or for that matter trans-actors.
There aren’t. So we are like African Americans not wanting our characters portrayed by white people in black face.
Recently Jennifer Boylan wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times: Transgender, Schlumpy and Human.
In it she defended the use of Jeffery Tambor, as a schlumpy man “transitioning”.
Just as Calpernia served as an adviser to Dallas Buyer’s Club, she served as an adviser to the show.
I can fully understand not wanting to bite the hand that feeds us…
I can even get the aspect of not wanting to offend the people in power who could create a far more negative image of TS/TG women but at some point I think it is important to remember that quote from Audre Lorde “The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.”
We learned we will never gain our rights or dignity by merely waiting for the cis-gender culture to bestow rights and dignity upon us based on their conscience or largess. We have to push for and demand our rights and dignity.
That means no more actors in drag face portraying TS/TG people. No more use of TS/TG people as stereotypical tropes for straights to demonstrate how progressive they are.