Faculty Advisor

Hale, Alison Tracy

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Abstract

I looked at how trans characters are rarely portrayed as dynamic within film. False representations of trans lives is both a result of transphobia within our society and serves as a force that maintains and perpetuates transphobia. Transphobia manifests in two distinct ways, first as erasure of non­binary identities, and secondly as delegitimizing trans identities through a combination of problematic plot elements, transphobic character development, and casting decisions that are not privileging of trans actors.

I examined multiple films, as well as one television series. The first film being Boys Don’t Cry,which centered around narratives of violence against trans people. Boys Don’t Cryalso features problematic production elements, as no trans people were included in the entire production of the film, thus disallowing trans people to self­narrate stories of transness.

The second film is Albert Nobbs,which is violent in both its depiction of transness and its production. The film relies on portraying a trans man as an “in fact” woman, who is dressing as a man in order to avoid violence. This is egregious in its portrayal in that trans men do not face external violence, when actually the opposite if correct.

Following the conversation on transphobia in film, I looked at how problematic portrayals of transness are damaging to the trans community. With heightened rates of violence directed at trans people, inaccurate portrayals only reinforce damaging stereotypes that directly result in violence. In all of these cases, trans people rarely self­narrate, and typically exist in film for the benefit of cisgender people. Portrayingtrans characters in this way does nothing except create an incredibly toxic socioeconomic environment where trans people are forcibly located within close proximity to violence, specifically egregious violence that is exacerbated by a distinct lack of mental and physical health resources for trans people, thus rendering them in distinct social isolation and unable to attain basic health care.

Publisher

University of Puget Sound

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