Sarah Dayan+ Your Authors @frontstuff_io Staff Software Engineer @Algolia. JavaScript, TypeScript, Vue.js, and CSS developer. TDD and utility-first enthusiast. Speaker and writer. Author of Dinero.js. Jul. 14, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

Just watched Netflix's "Disclosure" documentary, which reviews the depiction of trans people in films and TV.

I don't know how the trans and non-binary communities welcomed it so I won't speak in absolutes, but I found it remarkable. 


Like many other quarantined folks, I recently rewatched many shows that I love.

Many broke my heart in the way they depict homosexuality, but that's nothing compared to how trans folks are represented.

For instance, I used to worship Nip/Tuck. Beyond the plastic surgery veneer and sometimes grotesque stunts, the show is incredibly subversive. It was ahead of its time in many aspects.

However, the way it depicts trans characters is outrageous.

The recurring trans character of the show is a manipulative woman (impersonated by a cis woman) who seduces young men whose sexual inexperience lets her "pass" as cisgender.

She's outed when a surgeon rapes her and "finds out" she had surgery because of how her vagina feels.

This part of the show is sickening. First, because it casually showcases a rape scene, and tosses it aside to underline the "real outrage": she is a trans woman, who "betrayed" everyone by passing as cis.

As if trans people owed the rest of society to "signal" themselves.

Secondly, because it obsesses over trans people's bodies and genitalia. The cinema is OBSESSED with showing whether trans characters had surgery or not.

This basically trains cisgender people to feel entitled to that information. As if trans folks had to "prove" anything.

And finally, as with gay characters, trans characters are ALWAYS either marginal people to whom horrible things happen, or they're homicial maniacs, vampires, or some sort of manipulators who corrupt innocent youth from the virtuous path of heterosexual cisgenderness.

And yes, horrible things happen to trans people in real life. However, only showing that doesn't help. There's much more to depict about trans lives than horror and violence.

Cinema and TV have a huge responsibility in educating and providing representation.

I can't speak first hand on what it feels to be trans and represented this way, and I won't try.

However, as a gay cis woman, I know the impact lesbian representations on screen had on me as a teenager. It was either extremely depressing, or incredibly liberating. Never neutral.

And it impacts everybody. When "The L Word" came out, lesbians suddenly became cool and interesting.

It helped me come out to my parents, but also made my friends and acquaintances much more open and less ignorant on the subject. I felt much safer and accepted.

So yeah, if you're cis, watch "Disclosure" now. Then, start demanding more films and shows with interesting, accomplished trans characters.

Also, start calling out the bullshit publicly when you see it.


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