Traditional Transgender Film Stereotypes 1. Deceitful 2. Murderer or Disturbed/psychotic 3. Comedic 5. Documentary – Stories about an individual that shows the life of a transgender person that get produced because there is often a tragic ending.
Deceitfulness Transgender images more often than not portray transgender people as people who are deceitful and dishonest about their gender. It is this common stereotype that uses this as a reason to assault and kill transgender individuals. The Crying Game and Boys Don’t Cry are examples of a trans person of not disclosing to their partner their trans-identity.
Murderer Trans people are often portrayed as murderers or psychopathic individuals who will go to any means to harm others.
Silence of the Lambs 1991 Buffalo Bill skins female victims and sews together a new skin. Here the character is tucking a penis to see a female body.
Comedic The Comedic serves as a target for jokes and campiness. This character usually has one liners and is more of a drag queen. The majority of the comedy is the deceitfulness that the other characters do not know about the trans person’s identity.
. To Wong Foo 1995 Flawless 1999
Documentary There are movies that portray the stories of a real life experience of a transgender person or transgender community and issues. Most if not all of the documentaries discuss the intense adversity that trans people encounter.
. The Brandon Teena Story (1998). A story of the transman who was raped and killed when it was discovered he was transgender. Southern Comfort (2001). A story of a southern transman who was refused tx by at least 12 doctors for cervical cancer because he was trans. Although he eventually received tx, he died from the cancer because it spread to his internal organs.
Various Trans Documentaries Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton~RsCafeteria: Susan Stryker~Rs brilliantwork about transgender resistance to police brutality in 1966 San FranciscoCruel and Unusual: the plight of transgender women in men~Rs prisonsFenced Out: the activist work of LGBT youth of color in NYC to protest policebrutality and gentrification on the Christopher Street piersToilet Training: the harassment and organizing efforts of transpeople andallies in public restroomsTransgender Revolution: an overview of trans identity and trans activism in theUSBoy I Am: one of the few films which engages with feminist and lesbiancritiques of trans identities through exploring the lives of three FTMsTransAmazon: A Genderqueer Journey (full disclosure: I co-produced this): mytrans life and activist efforts in rural NHParis is Burning: gay and trans African Americans and Latinos in 1980s NYC andthe house system and balls they participate inThe Believers: the story of the world~Rs first transgender gospel choirPick up the Mic: an interesting film about LGBT hip hop artists, it isinclusive of bi and trans artistsYou Don~Rt Know Dick: profiles of several female-to-male transsexualsTrappings of Transhood: profiles of trans-masculine spectrum people in the BayAreaCall Me Malcolm: documentary about a transgender seminary student and hisstruggles with faith and gender identityMind If I Call You Sir?: doc about the lives of Latino FTMs in the Bay AreaGeorgie Girl: Documentary about Georgina Beyers, a Maori transsexual elected toParliament in New ZealandPaper Dolls: story showing the lives of Filipino MTF transgender immigrants toIsrael who care for Orthodox Jewish men by day and by night perform in a dragtroupeBombay EunuchHarsh Beauty: two docs profiling the lives of hijras, gender-variant personsoften called ~Seunuchs~T in IndiaEnough Man (this title includes sexually graphic footage): interviews andscenes of sexuality from a diverse group of female-to-male transpeopleOutlaw: a documentary about the life and work of transgender warrior LeslieFeinbergA Boy Named Sue: portrait of an FTMGirl Inside: portrait of a young MTF and her close relationship with hergrandmotherJuggling Gender: film about a bearded woman who discusses her life on thegender lineSir: Just a Normal Guy: portrait of an FTMShinjuku Boys: the lives of gender-variant natal females in Japan who work ashosts to entertain heterosexual womenAdventures in the Gender Trade: profiles the life of the amazing KateBornstein, transgender writer, theorist and performance artistBecoming Ayden: profile of a young trans man in Toronto who must deal with theobjections of his father, a conservative rabbi. By Joelle Ruby Ryanjoeller AT bgsu.edu.
Media Beginnings Media images represent stereotypes as well as perpetrate stereotypes. Since the beginning of media, there have been representations of gender variance which is not surprising as transgender people have been documented for centuries. The 1950’s glamorized the movies and began to influence society in their projected images.
Glen or Glenda 1953 was one of the first films that showed a transsexual and was loosely based on the Christine Jorgensen story who was the first transsexual to have her Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) publicized and or sensationalized by the media (Ryan, 2009).
Early magazine prints in playboy Some of the earlier images of transsexuals were often described in the reading sections and images shown in cartoons. “Magician's Apprentice” Playboy, August 1959 Being a magician's apprentice isn’t all it's cracked up to be. http://www.tgfa.org/
* Dr. Jekyll and Miss Hyde? Playboy, February 1998 Dr. Jekyll's formula goes slightly awry.
Star Trek Star Tracks Cracked magazine, Fall 1981 After visiting "The Planet of Change,” Captain Kirk starts experiencing some unusual changes. http://www.tgfa.org/
Calvin Klein Ad National Lampoon Magazine, June 1984 http://www.tgfa.org/
An advertisement for Sauza tequila featuring the transsexual Caroline Cossey (a.k.a. "Tula") in a less than flattering light. http://www.tgfa.org/
Transgender Images in television
From Past . . . . . to Present
In the Beginning There Was . . . Transgender images in television have a rich history dating back as far as the late 1940’s to the Milton Berle Show, a comedy variety show. This show set the stage for the routine visit of a transgender character, predominately in the form of cross dressers.
Comedic Relief As in the silver screen, transgender characters primary role in television was that of providing comedic relief and entertainment. Both the hosts of the Milton Berle Show and later, TheFlip Wilson Show of the 1970s were comedians; these shows were pivotal in grounding the exaggerated stereotypical image of a male cross-dresser on the screen.
Dramatizations Beginning in the 80’s television’s portrayal of transgender individuals as comedic relief transitioned to the dramatization and shock ratings technique in the arena of the talk show. The father of the talk show circuit, Phil Donahue pioneered the interrogation and what eventually evolved to the humiliation of transgender individuals in Donahue’s predecessors, such as the Jerry Springer Show. Not all of Donahue’s transgender themed show’s were negative, there were a few small moments where the depictions served to give voice to the transgender experience. While broad generalizations and correlations can’t be argued without empirical data, we do know media has a significant impact toward individuals attitudes and perceptions. It makes one wonder is the impact of televisions portrayal of transgender individuals that of activating violence?
Sexy transsexual girls on Geraldo (2:30) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-UJq1pztUo&feature=related The Jerry Springer Show - 'Guess What, I'm Really A Man' [UK Edit] (Part 3/3) – from 2 -3:37 minutes is when the disclosure occurs (8:38) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25KOydT0zgU&feature=related Transgender / Transsexual Men on the Maury Show / Lando FTM (9:45) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcqhPJHwv8E&feature=PlayList&p=D73338303937CC55&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7
Why is TV Relevant to Clinicians? The lack of positive, affirming images of the transgender experience increases the invisibility of the transgender voice, which serves to further marginalize an already vulnerable population. Clinically this may manifest as a fragmented sense of self, diminished self-esteem, increased risk taking behaviors, adaptation of unhealthy coping skills such as alcohol or drug use, trauma, depression or anxiety. Non-affirming television images propagate societal stereotypes of the transgender community which could potentially lead to transphobia, discrimination, and up to an including acts of violence towards transgender individuals.
M*A*S*H1972 to 1983 Hogan’s Heroes1965 to 1971 Bosom Buddies1980 to 1982 Kids in the Hall1989 to 1994
A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words Studies on violence indicate that transgender populations have experienced disproportionate rates of trauma (Mizock & Lewis, 2008, p. 337). Statistics from various studies and needs assessment done in various cities and states indicate that the transgender community experiences more that twice the national rate of violence. 47% of respondents in a national survey of 402 transgender individuals reported having been assaulted and 14% of this group had been raped or survived attempted rape (Wilchins et al., 1997)
Of the 252 participants of a needs-based assessment conducted in Washington, DC, 43% indicated they had encountered violence (Xavier, 2000). For people over the age of 12 in the general population of the U.S. , Department of Justice statistics for 2005 report that 21% experienced a violent crime (DOJ, 2005). Of 80 transpersons participating in a study in Philadelphia, 53.8% reported sexual assault, 56.3% reported experiencing violence at home, and 51.3% indicated they had been physically abused (Kenagy, 2005).
Not All Representation is Negative We Are Beginning to Slowly See Shifts
Tales of the City1994 All In The Family1971 to 1979 Ally McBeal1997 to 2002 Mrs. Anna Madrigal The loving land lady of Barbary Lane comes out as an MtF transsexual Beverly LaSalle 1st TV show to deal with violence towards transgender character Case of Cindy McCauliff Ally’s law firm represents a transsexual woman who refused to have an employee medical exam.
Trends in Transgender Visibility (GLAAD, 2009, p. 19)
Tales of the City Clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc2OMcXz7TE
Transgender Television Icons of the 20th & 21st Century The RuPaul Show 1996 to 1998 Dirty Sexy Money 2007 to 2009 1st transgender individual to host and be seen regularly on a nationally distributed TV program. 1st transgender actress to play a reoccurring transgender character on prime time TV.
Transgender Actress Play a Transgender Character Candis Cayne Talks to GLAAD About Being Openly Transgender in Hollywood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_iXJ2vOKGc Candis Cayne Interview on Hollywood 411 – TV Guide http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnkbiApeVR8&feature=fvw Candice Cayne plays Carmelita Dirty Sexy Money
Psychology & Social Justice . . . What can you do?
Be an advocate for your gender variant clients
Continuously expand your clinical knowledge by taking CEU and attending conferences specific to the transgender community
Explore your own prejudices and understanding of gender
Challenge colleagues & individuals when microagressions towards transgender community are done
Be part of the solution not part of the problem!
National Transgender Advocacy Coalition Chair, Vanessa Edwards Foster (L) & Remembering Our Dead founder Gwen Smith (R)
Policy Statement on Transgender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Adopted by Council of Representative in August 2008 WHEREAS transgender and gender variant people frequently experience prejudice and discrimination and psychologists can, through their professional actions, address these problems at both an individual and a societal level; WHEREAS discrimination and prejudice against people based on their actual or perceived gender identity or expression detrimentally affects psychological, physical, social, and economic well-being (Bockting et al., 2005; Coan et al., 2005; Clements-Nolle, 2006; Kenagy, 2005; Kenagy & Bostwick, 2005; Nemoto et al., 2005; Resolution on Prejudice Stereotypes and Discrimination, Paige, 2007; Riser et al., 2005; Rodriquez-Madera & Toro-Alfonso, 2005; Sperber et al., 2005; Xavier et al., 2005); THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT APA calls upon psychologists in their professional roles to provide appropriate, nondiscriminatory treatment to transgender and gender variant individuals and encourages psychologists to take a leadership role in working against discrimination towards transgender and gender variant individuals;
Change is Possible . . . H.R. 1913 federal hate crimes bill passes house 249 - 175 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZvipKu-iBU&feature=related
News Media Images .
News Media From 1992, there has been a steady increase in coverage of transgender issues. By early 2000, major news media had begun to approach transgender issues with more respect and increased exposure. For example, in 2005, CNN invited a transgender media critic to help explain the appropriate terminology to use when covering transgender stories. Within the past few years the Associated Press and New York Times have created guidelines to make sure that proper pronouns and names are used when addressing transgender individuals. Source: http://www.fair.org
Recent News Media Coverage 2007 saw the biggest increase in coverage due to two high profile stories In February of 2007, Susan Ashley Stanton, formally Steve Stanton, a Florida city manager, was outed as transgender by the St. Petersburg Times Stanton served as city manager for fourteen years She had been preparing her transition plan, but before she could come out, the St. Petersburg Times’ ran exposed her plan One week later she was fired This incident received an unusual amount of media exposure due to her high-level status as a city official Source: http://www.fair.org; Google News Archive
Steve Stanton/Susan Ashley Stanton
Recent News Media Coverage Two months after Stanton’s media exposure, a well respected and long time sportswriter, Mike Penner, made the public announcement that he was transsexual and would be changing her name to Christine Daniels. Her story was different than Stanton’s. Mike Penner came out as Christine Daniels with the support of her employer, the L.A. Times The result of the supportive atmosphere in her story resulted in less media exposure than the negatively charged Stanton story. Daniel’s planned on documenting the transition in one of his columns and blogs with the support of the L.A. Times. Daniels reported that she received “overwhelmingly positive and supportive” feedback after she announced the news. Source: http://www.fair.org
News media coverage This exposure led to an increase in newsmagazines such as Newsweek, Boston Globe, and the Rocky Mountain News covering gender identity issues A family practice doctor and detective who transitioned from male to female were profiled in their publication Source: http://www.fair.org
Mike Penner/ Christine Daniels
Transgender Sportswriter's Suicide Christine Daniels continued to write for the L.A. Times and even began writing articles about her transition process In 2008, Daniels switched back to her male name, Mike Penner, without explanation In December of 2009, Mike Penner committed suicide Very little details have been released regarding this tragedy, but it highlights the difficult struggle one faces when they transition, especially when they are a well known public figure. Her suicide led to the discussion of the high suicide rates among transgender individuals among various news media outlets Source: http://www.newser.com/story/75115/transgender-sportswriters-suicide-leaves-questions.html
Transphobia Despite the recent trends towards facilitating respect, there are still mainstream media outlets that refer to transgender individuals in a derogatory manner “trannies” The New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch (the one responsible for Fox News) regularly refers to transgender individuals as “trannies” The New York Daily News, known for its sensational headlines, ran a story about transgender Medicaid hormone recipients, titled, “Tranny RX Sex Scams” To give a better understanding of the long history of derogatory perspectives of LGBT issues is evident in their article on the stonewall riots titled, “HOMO NEST RAIDED, QUEEN BEES ARE STINGING MAD”
Focused on Genitalia CNN, once again, proved itself to be highly insensitive when interviewing transgender individuals Larry King has conducted several interviews since 2005 IN each interview, he constantly focuses on the status of his guests genitalia and sexual reassignment status. He would ask insensitive questions about whether the guest urinated standing up or sitting down His excuse when confronted by his guests, he would claim that people were fascinated by the genital status, sex life, or surgery status. When he interviewed Susan Ashley/Steve Stanton he referred to her as a cross dresser because she had not gone through full reconstructive surgery Source: http://www.fair.org
Transphobia In 2006, MSNBC, which is known for its somewhat liberal perspective, allowed Tucker Carlson to continually refer to transgender issues and people in a derogatory way He stated on air that transgenderism is a “profound personality disorder” He claimed that sex reassignment surgery was “an act of a crazy person” akin to “setting your hair on fire or blinding yourself” When discussing transgender issues he routinely makes insensitive and divisive comments such as “That dude is one ugly chick” and “Just because you’re castrated and have a fake set of boobs does not make you a woman” Source: http://www.fair.org
Inappropriate Pronoun Use In January of 2009, Indiana’s WTHR-TV, ran a story about a transgender woman, TaysiaElzy, and her partner, Michael Hunt who were murdered in their home. The local media identified The transgender woman by her male name while using male pronouns. GLAAD, The Bilerico Project, and other local activist contacted the local media outlets to address the insensitive reporting. The Indianapolis Star was receptive of the feedback and made changes in referring to TaysiaElzy with appropriate pronoun use. The Local station television station, WTHR-TV, was not receptive of the feedback and the news reporter, Steve Jefferson, continued to refer to Elzy as a man because she was not “post-op” Source: http://glaadblog.org/2009/01/26/indianas-wthr-tv-changes-story-glaad-named-worst/
Seventeen Magazine publishes Transphobic Article In November of 2009, Seventeen magazine published a derogatory article which portrayed transgender youth as deceptive and called them “liars”. The articled, titled, “True Life Drama: My Boyfriend turned out to be a girl!” The story details the story of a girl discovering that her boyfriend was transgender. The articles was said to have a “accusatory and sensationalizing tone”
Radio Hosts encourage violence against transgender children In June of 2009, Sacramento radio hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States of the Rob, Arnie, & Dawn in the Morning encouraged the use of violence against transgender children The story was covered by the Sacramento Bee, Huffington Post, and Fox 40 the segment focused on the case of an Omaha family choosing to support their transgender child’s decision to transition from male to female They referred to transgender children as "idiots“, "freaks“, and children who were “just out for attention" The two made comments referring that if their son wanted to dress in women's clothes that they would beat them with their high heels
Radio Hosts encourage violence against transgender childrenactual quotes from the show: “Allowing transgenders to exist, pretty soon it becomes normal to fall in love with the animals" "Because you know what? Boys don't wear high heel shoes. And in my house, they definitely don't wear high heels. "I'm going to go, 'You know what? You're a little idiot! You little dumbass!'" "I look forward to when [the transgender children] go out into society and society beats them down. And they wind up in therapy.“ The following companies have pulled their advertisement in response to this incident Chipotle, Snapple, Sonic, Bank of America, Verizon, Carl’s Jr (CKE Restaurants) , Wells Fargo, Nissan North America, AT&T, and McDonald’s Source: http://www.fair.org
Transphobia in News Media Some comments made by mainstream media personalities are not as offensive on face value, but communicate a sense of aversion and disapproval In 2007, CNN’s Paula Zahn began a story about a transgender teenager as being about “a family dealing with a truly bizarre problem” Even Barbara Walters language used on her 2007 20/20 special illustrated a sense of transphobia when she said that “only by compassion, and understanding, and enlightenment can we accept them.” Source: http://www.fair.org
Single White Female What is apparent is the media’s bias towards only covering stories about middle class white males transitioning to female. Other ethnicities have been largely ignored despite their even more complicated and difficult path in transition.
Single White Female For example, in the spring of 2007, Newsweek had a cover story on gender and gender identity. They profiled five transgender individuals and all of them where upper middle class professional white MTF Most of the story documented the personal coming out stories The small portion of the issue that did focus on discrimination did so from the perspective of a transgender Vice President of Prudential who discussed the new experience of sexism in the workplace. This perspective neglects the real issues facing the transgender community, such as individuals in low income or minority status who experience difficultly finding employment and facing other aspects of discrimination Source: http://www.fair.org
References American Psychological Association. (August 2008). American Psychological Association Policy Statement on Transgender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Retrieved December 6, 2009 from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/transgender.html. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. (2009) . Where We Are on TV: GLAAD’s 14th Annual Diversity Studies Previews the 2009-2010 Primetime Television Season. Los Angeles: GLAAD. Retrieved November 23, 2009 from http://www.glaad.org/tvreport. Lady Clover Honey. History of Drag, Gender-Impersonation and Transgender People and Characters on National American Television. Retrieved December 6, 2009 from http://www.ladycloverhoney.com/tvhist.html Mizock, L., & Lewis, T. (2008). Trauma in transgender populations: Risk, resilience, and clinical care. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 8(3), 335-354. Ryan, J. (2009). Reel gender: Examining the politics of trans images in film and media. Teague, G. (2003). The Increase of Transgender Characters in Movies and Television. Transgender Tapestry #102, Summer 2003. Retrieved December 5, 2009 from http://www.ifge.org/Article153.phtml. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2005). National Crime Victimization Survey violent crime trends. 1973-2005. Retrieved December 5 2009 ,from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/viortrdtab.htm.
. References Con’t Xavier, J. M. (2000). The Washington transgender needs assessment survey. Retrieved December 5, 2009, from http://www.glaa.org/archive/2000/tgneedsassessment1112.shtml. Wilchins, R. A., Lombardi, E.. Priesing, D., & Malouf. D. (1997). First national survey of transgender violence. New York: GenderPAC.