Sunday, November 04, 2007

Transphobia On Film, Hoosier Style

Transphobia in moviesAt times, I really get down about being the T part of GLBT. Yesterday was definitely one of those times. I learned that "The Gendercator" will be playing at our local GLBT film festival. If you're not familiar with the film, I'll let the creator of the film explain it.
"Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics."

Transgender historian and academic, Susan Stryker, describes it this way:
"The film expresses a long-familiar anti-transgender polemic: the idea that transsexuals are anti-gay, anti-feminist political reactionaries who collude with repressive social and cultural power; furthermore, that transsexuals are complicit in the non-consensual bodily violation of women."

The film was removed from the Frameline Film Festival (the largest LGBT film festival in the world) after a petition drive. The organizers of the petition drive said this:
"We, the multigendered LGBT community and its allies, declare that there is no space for hatred and transphobia in our community institutions. We reject the notion that transsexuality is anti-feminist or anti-gay. We demand that our community artists be held accountable for the messages that they deliver, and that artistic projects not be allowed to hide under the mask of "sparking dialogue" when the intention is actually to divide and demonize. We further ask that Frameline's LGBT Film Festival and other LGBT institutions refuse to show the hateful movie "The Gendercator," which makes no attempt to engage in actual dialogue. We assert that the dialogue that most urgently needs to happen is not around the validity of trans people, but instead around the double standards that trans-related material continues to endure within our own community."

I have little doubt that the position of The Gendercator in the lineup was planned. It's played JUST AFTER the gender section of the Festival. How's that for a little back door transphobia? Take a guess who's on the selection committee? Keep reading.....

Recently in another post, Tom, a gay man, asked me why I was so angry. It's not just this movie. It's not just us being stripped from ENDA. It's not that we have to protest to be included in ENDA. It's not that we don't get access to our legislators, then get blamed for not advocating enough.

I'm pissed off because we have to protest and complain about our place in this community. Whether it be ENDA, or the Matthew Shepard act, or a film festival, we have to put up a fight to be respected and included. I'm pissed that a supposed "GLBT" film festival would have the gall to put the creator of The Gendercator, Catherine Crouch, on the selection committee. In short, I'm pissed because I feel like a goddamn stepchild. My place in this community should not be up for debate. I have a rightful place in this community. I have stood beside my brothers and sisters in the GLBT community and fought for marriage equality. Transgender heroes like Sylvia Rivera have paid with her flesh, for our right to stand in this community, side by side, with gays and lesbians.

I had someone say to me that the beneficiary of the Indianapolis LGBT film festival, Indiana Youth Group, shouldn't suffer because of this "adult swizzle of this." If I had an African American film festival that featured "Birth of a Nation" and "The Jazz Singer" hosted by Ted Danson in blackface, would giving the money collected to the NAACP make the movies any less racist? What kind of credibility would the NAACP have after taking part in such an event? Would I have any credibility in the African American community by saying, "I'm not racist, I just helped a black guy yesterday"?!?

You want to have a film festival that's centered around radical feminism, and include "The Gendercator," be my guest. But don't you dare call this a GLBT film festival... unless the T, in GLBT, stands for transphobia.

For those of you in the Indiana area, I'm planning a protest of the premiere night. Please email me for more details.

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