Open discussion: Trans representation wishlist

Over at Sociological Images, there’s an article about media depictions of trans people. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait.

Now that you’ve read it, you have a pretty good idea of exactly what’s wrong with the way most media portrays trans people. Instead of going into how fucked up it is (which is readily available via this miracle of modern living called Google), let’s make a wishlist for what we want to see more of in media representations of trans people.

So, readers, what would be on your trans depiction wishlist?

8 thoughts on “Open discussion: Trans representation wishlist

  1. Besides the obvious (aka, more trans characters), how about seeing/showing them as well-rounded people instead of zoo animals to be gawked at? Less focus on body issues and more on them as, gasp, actual people.

    And if you *are* going to show body issues – I mean, some trans people choose not to have surgery. That should be presented as a viable option too.

    • I fully agree with this. So much focus of LGBTQ characters (especially the T ones) are on their orientation or identity when all they really are, are people! I understand that in some mainstream media the focus of the movie/TV show/book/whatever is centered around that “otherness,” or in the case of a trans character, a transition and/or body issues, but all people have other “life” issues as well. As an openly transman, there is SO much more to me than my hormones injections and hiding my breasts (such as work, family, relationships, hobbies, etc.).

  2. Frankly, I’d be good with the lack of “gender-swapping” or sexist storylines and gags, especially against LGB characters, let alone whether they’re actually trans or not. Let’s let that break down the gender-binary-centrism in the world to start. I’m talking about gay men or whining straight men being equated with women, butch or powerful women being equated with men, and gendering plenty of other traits, whether physical, sexual or in one’s personality. Hearing that kind of shit in the “real world” is the largest factor for me to decide to be out in a space or not. I imagine if there are any stealth trans folks who overhear other characters getting defeminized/emasculated, they’re not going to feel safe coming out in the show either!

    On the other side of the coin, positively highlighting gender non-conformance or non-stereotypical gender roles/traits would be empowering, as well. Or allowing it to be without highlighting or defending it at all. It’d also be great to have a gender non-conforming character who was well rounded and not question their gender identity.

    However, for the binary…I’d like to see trans actors playing trans roles, or even cis roles. I mean, I understand that it’s “just acting” and cis people should be able to play trans roles, just like straight actors should be able to play gay roles. I’d still like to see more trans people in Hollywood. That in itself would be awesome.

  3. I would like to see trans people represented in stories that aren’t about them being trans, but which still involve them being trans. I’d like to see trans people portrayed as actual people – characters whose transness is definitely important, but doesn’t eclipse their humanity or everything else about them.

    And also important: A variety of different types of trans people. People with varying backgrounds. There are trans people who are prostitutes and criminals, but these are often the only types of trans people we ever see. I want to see office people going about their business. I want to see retail clerks doing their everyday jobs.

    I want to see people who have already come out. Coming out is an emotional time for many people, but it isn’t the only time in a person’s life. It isn’t the “end all, be all” of everything. And while coming out stories do help plenty of people, there are many of us who are well beyond that point. I would like something meaningful for me that helps me think about the rest of my life, not just that time in my life. Also, it would be so helpful if unfamiliar people were able to encounter a trans character who is living life after leaving the closet.

  4. I’m pretty much in agreement with everyone here about representing trans people as people, where being trans is a part of them and not their sole, defining role.

  5. As a transwoman, I would agree with all the above, but one thing I’d like to see in particular is a romance between a cisperson and a transperson handled respectfully, not played for laughs, and not obsessing over the angst of the cisperson or the audacity of some ridiculous “reveal.”

    On another level, in the science fiction genre in particular (though a similar request applies to fantasy I guess) it would be nice to see some acknowledgment of what technological advancement will ultimately do to affect people who are transgendered. In both negative and positive ways- in the movie Strange Days, for example, I could see myself developing an addiction to the “SQUIDs”.

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