Trans Representation

Damned 2011

The social status of trans people is still fairly taboo when it comes to proper representation. What I mean by this is that too often, the lives of people of trans origin are co-opted and spoken about and for by cis-gender folks.

Our bodies, our identities, our very existence seems fair game for Hollywood, never stopping to consider that maybe they could reach out to actual trans actors and actresses to play trans roles. Who better to get into the mindset might be the logical reactions though it is rarely the case.

I have lost count of the number of movies in which there’s a trans character, usually misrepresented by having a cis actor play the role, especially when it comes to roles of trans women. Some of those movies attempt to be sensitive and do some research but still fail in terms of expressing womanhood through the lived life of an actually women of trans origin. Trying to faithfully give a decent view of trans women in movies has been an abject failure to date with certain exemptions in which trans women actresses were hired to play those roles.

Imagine the positive effect movies about trans women could have on trans women if they in fact saw themselves properly represented, imagine how these women would feel, how they would be empowered and uplifted. The cis-perspective is harming trans people by going mostly with cis actors, worst, cis male actors are too often used to play trans women and this is destructive. Showing trans women in films as the butt of the joke, the serial killer, or that guy in a dress is a form of violence towards trans women and trans people in general. And when they aren’t being portrayed as above, they are usually given death at the end or some vague, uncertain end.

True representation necessarily passes through the lens of these women ( and men ), it’s the only true way to honour their lives and experiences. Trans women have been telling their stories for a long time now and rare are the positive and empowering movies about their lives.

I’m not advocating that all films featuring stories of trans people should only be played by trans, but I am saying , enough already with the cis-actors playing us, give trans actors an opportunity to represent themselves for a change, you might like it.

Attached to this blurb are three images of paintings I’ve created in which trans women are represented by actual trans women. My book ” Breaking Free: 45 Years In The Wrong Body ” is available on Amazon in most countries.

Joelle




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