Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Two weeks ago, a campaign to boycott Israel Luna's film "Ticked Off Trannies With Knives" began, and within days GLAAD had joined the cause with a call to action on the GLAAD blog. The facebook group currently boasts over 1,700 members. I have seen this film and I am writing this letter today to support it, and to encourage people to stop protesting it. As a transsexual, and as a filmmaker, this boycott saddens me deeply and I hope that this letter encourages folks to disengage from what I believe to be an attempt at self-promotion by a group of professional transgender activisits, not artists, not concerned members of the community.

First, and really the letter should end with this statement as well, censorship is never the answer. Ever. And if you believe that pulling a small, low-budget independent film, that features trans people as main characters, does not constitute censorship, you have never tried to make art about trans people in America in the 21st century. Activists succeeded in removing a film called "The Gendercator" from the line-up at the Frameline Film Festival in 2007 after it was deemed by "community leaders" to be transphobic. Who elected these trans community leaders? Not me, not you--but whoever they were, they had no qualms about speaking on our behalf. This pattern is sincerely troubling to me, as it brews a climate of fear among trans film and video artists and people looking to make work about trans people. Censoring these films is a step in the wrong direction.

Ok, assuming that you agree with me about censorship, but that you think maybe sometimes people SHOULD be afraid to make work about trans people, let me tell you, I agree with you. There are actually many trans characters in mainstream film and television--they often appear in gay and lesbian films to help the gay or lesbian protagonist out of a sticky situation, for instance. On television, transsexual characters are overwhelmingly the victims of violence (usually sexual) and/or they are perverted perpetrators, such as on Law & Order SVU, which received a GLAAD media award in 2009. The other trans character you're likely to find on TV or in a movie is what I like to call the "liarsexual"--that is to say, their "lie" about their gender usually propels the plot in some way. "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" is not in that genre.

All of those types of trans characters appear all the time and (a) they suck and (b) no one is protesting them. In fact, when L&O SVU puts out a casting call for trans people for an upcoming episode, my friends stampede to the studio, eager to claim their $100 check and a chance to see what Chris Meloni is like in real life.

"Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" has none of these characters. Not the secondary characters who exists to help a non-trans protagonist (Better Than Chocolate), not a victim of violence (Boys Don't Cry), not a perverted perpetrator (Silence of the Lambs) and not a liar-sexual, who propels the plot of the film by concealing his/her "true" identity/gender until a dramatic reveal causes another, more important character, to change and/or grow (The Crying Game). Even the (GLAAD-award-winning) Transamerica, which has a trans character as a protagonist, situates the trans character completely alone and in a thoroughly heterosexual context (reconnecting with her son). "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" has three main characters--all transwomen--who have their own character arcs and their own motivations.

The boycott organizers, and GLAAD, cite a main issue with the content of film--that it fails to represent the lives of "real" transgender women. This argument disturbs me because that means that either #1 GLAAD and the boycott organizers believe that there are a limited number of ways to express being a "real" trans person or #2 trans character can only appear in dramatic works that are in the "realism" realm. Without getting into a history of filmmaking, it is safe to say that this particular stylistic complaint is severely misguided and limiting to trans artists. Non-trans filmmakers are allowed a wide-range of cinematic styles with which to portray their lives, and filmmakers working with "authentic" trans characters should be allowed the same. "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" is satire and camp and action/adventure all rolled into one feature film. Within these genres, the protagonists are a commanding prescence and an inspiration to the audience. No viewer of this film would mistake this for being a "real" movie--the film is highly stylized to invoke the experience of watching a B-movie from the 70s--from 16mm film artifacts added in post production to a placard reading "We're sorry but some of the reels of this film may have been lost."

Which brings us to the other reading of that argument--that there is one way of being a "real" transwoman. The feministing article about the film complained about the transwomen's use of the word "balls"--which apparently rings as insulting and inauthentic. Maybe some transwomen bristle at this, but I can assure you that this feels "real" to some people. If you're wondering how this can be true, think of how many times you've heard a trans guy talk about pussy (his own or someone else's). It's true, that this is a particularly difficult joke to make in front of non-trans people. I don't walk into a room of straight people and start talking about my vagina, for instance. But I might, if the room were filled with my trans friends. And that's the remarkable thing about this film: it features transwomen (five of them at one point!) talking to each other about their lives in an informal (and let's just say it) "real" way. And viewers have very few examples of this peek into (what I consider to be) my world. Trans people with trans friends, who talk about their real lives openly and stick up for each other when the shit hits the fan.

What seems to be at the heart of this argument is that the organizers feel comfortable only with the narrative films that include trans characters as victims (GLAAD cites "Boys Don't Cry" as a "good" film as opposed to this "bad" film) or documentaries about trans people that feature their "changes." I don't hate most of those movies, but any trans artist will tell you, this is a very limiting rubric if you're looking to make work about trans people. Eventually, being a transsexual gets very boring. The sex change operation is over, your body stops changing and you have to just get on with the rest of your life. Limiting trans work to the sex change operation is the equivalent of telling gay filmmakers that they should only make movies about "coming out" stories. "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" is the ACT/UP Fight Back response to the transgender victim of all those other films--what if every gay movie was (that terrible Oscar-winning trash) "Philadelphia"? What if every gay character was an asexual "AIDS victim"? That would be depressing, right?

"Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" is a film that I would have been proud to make
, and that I connected to because it is what it says it is--a revenge fantasy. Every time a trans woman (and let's be honest, most of the violence towards trans people is directed at trans women) is murdered, I want to pick up a knife and kill the guy who did it, and then set his body on fire, and then hang it in City Hall park to warn the rest of them that if they fuck with trans people, they will pay. But that doesn't happen. Because that would be wrong, and counterproductive and violence (like censorship) is never the answer. But am I glad that in this movie, for a couple hours, I finally do have the opportunity to get revenge? To stand up against the people who brutalize trans people? Absolutely.

So how do you evaluate a film for its transgender content? First, seeing the film can be especially helpful (the great majority of the people trashing TOTWK have only seen the trailer). After that, it's really a personal decision. Here's the rubric I use:

#1 Is there just ONE(1) trans character? If there is only one, the trans person is probably just there to serve some purpose for the protagonist/screenwriter. If there are two or more, there is a better chance that they are "real" characters. (Are you a trans person? Do you have at least one trans friend? Yeah, me too.)

#2 Do you see before and after pictures of the trans character? If there are before/after pictures, or a mention of their old or "real"/"legal" name you are watching a BAD movie or TV show. Start the facebook group and trash the producers, pronto.

#3 Is the dramatic question "Will s/he get the sex change operation that they desperately want?" and/or does the trans person die at the end of the film? If the plot is about getting "the operation" you're probably watching the product of a filmmaker/screenwriter/producers's fantasy about fascinating transsexual people. There ARE brutal murders of trans people in "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives," but this event propels the revenge action, and the other characters fulfill their arcs as mighty warriors rather than as pitiful victims.

Essentially, the boycott was proposed by people who have very little experience with reading and comprehension of media and representations of trans people in film, perpetuated by GLAAD, an organization that is no friend to trans people who is seeking to jump on what it sees as an opportunity to curry favor with what it sees as a grassroots movement because it is too lazy to do any real work on trans issues. The "movement" is actually mostly a facebook group that has grown in size because of the lack of effort required to "join" a movement online (what I call single-click activism) and I predict very low turn out for tonight's "protest."

I encourage you all to take your friends, see the film, and write and share your own thoughts.


Sadie-Ryanne said...

I still haven't figured out how I feel about this film. I'm easily triggered by violence, so I will probably never watch it. I joined the Facebook boycott group because yeah, it's really easy to click on something that looks like I would probably support. But I have been reading a lot of the back and forth and honestly I just don't really have know anymore!

This is one of the best "pro-TOTWK" argument I've seen overall, but I think you're wrong about one thing. I don't think that "the boycott was proposed by people who have very little experience with reading and comprehension of media and representations of trans people in film" at all. I have read incredibly compelling, well-thought-out, critical and self-reflexive critiques of the film. The people who oppose it have very intelligent reasons for doing so. (I thought this one was especially good: http://skipthemakeup.blogspot.com/2010/03/tranny-day-of-remembrance.html) Disagreeing with them, even actively opposing them is one thing. But, I think, dismissing them as ignorant only drives further fissures in our community.

Otherwise though, this is a very smart and thought-provoking piece and I'm glad I read it.

with respect, Sadie-Ryanne

Unknown said...

"Which brings us to the other reading of that argument--that there is one way of being a "real" transwoman. The feministing article about the film complained about the transwomen's use of the word "balls"--which apparently rings as insulting and inauthentic. Maybe some transwomen bristle at this, but I can assure you that this feels "real" to some people. If you're wondering how this can be true, think of how many times you've heard a trans guy talk about pussy"

Kinda a strawman. No one said there was one way of being a real (quotes or no quotes around the word) trans woman. One can agree to diversity but still find a particular type of representation offensive.

I've rarely heard my trans guy friends talking about pussy - might be an age thing - might be becuase our sexual orientations tend to be different & that can shape discussions. But I know that they get to choose if they would find a similar film about them to be offensive. And yeah - I do find the whole old, old old, balls joke offesnive. Jeez - it was old in the late 70's. Tired, it is.

What you're dancing around here, but not addressing is when is something acceptable for a group to say amoung themselves and what within that experience might be offensive from others. When is it appropriation? When is it reclamation? Who gets to reclaim?

When can I tell a trans guy what he shouldn't find offensive? When can I tell him his experience is just like mine? Not so very often as one might think.

"What seems to be at the heart of this argument is that the organizers feel comfortable only with the narrative films that include trans characters as victims (GLAAD cites "Boys Don't Cry" as a "good" film as opposed to this "bad" film) or documentaries about trans people that feature their "changes.""

Wow - a complete misreading of what people have been saying. Indeed - most people have included that same critique in their objections to this film as you make on the limited types of portrayals of trans woman. They just include this film's types of portrayals in the shopworn limited section you reserve for the above stereotypes. And - we know thaat's what they are as we've lived with them for so long.

Psycho trans women with knives - really - one needn't be so recent as Silence - go on back to the 50's and just about every movie since then spewed that effluent upon us.

This movie isn't a new portrayal - it's a collection of the oldest tropes. Some people find value in our being portrayed as offensive stereotypes - perhaps it's time to ask why they do instead of asking why we don't? What do they get out of it?

'Cause I sure know what we do; and it ain't roses honey.

Gina said...


2) Even if some of the protesters do want to the film pulled from the festival, I reject this ANY different than African Americans speaking out about Amos and Andy on the TV, Latinos speaking out about the Frito Bandito, lesbians speaking out about Basic Instinct, and gay men protesting "Cruising" (which was also protested because of its depiction of the gay community and because it was directed and written by straight people) and the COMEDY "9 Dead Gay Guys". Too bad if you think groups don't have a right to protest against media which inaccurately depicts them or makes their very life or death into entertainment... I support that right.

Moreover, real censorship in this country isn't about what we're doing, it's about corporate media ownership literally censoring entire communities out of mainstream representation. You want to worry about real censorship, get your asses up about that Stop telling a bunch of trans women who are fed up with the way they continually get portrayed and don't want to be represented by licking a bloody/knife phallus on a poster.

3) As to the title: Mr. Luna knew this would create upset and outrage among TRANS WOMEN (and sorry, trans guys, but too many of you appropriate the term tranny for me to feel too connected to your ideas about why the term is or isn't okay... truth is, it's NOT ABOUT YOU.) He was in a thread in the Dallas Voice over a year ago (before the film was made) about the paper using "tranny". He informed a group of trans women about the film he was about to make and basically said... you don't like it, tough beans. He also said "Tranny is basically short for transsexual" a clear statement of who the film is supposed to represent. He went ahead with it even though he knew many trans women would be upset about a term which is highly triggering to many in our community. Guess what guys, neither YOU nor cissexual gay men get to tell us to "lighten up" and not be offended by tranny. Again, it's NOT ABOUT YOU.

Yes, I agree that the community of trans women is diverse. That a portion of trans women who have come up through drag and highly connected to the gay community may not have the same reaction to the film many trans women (of widely varying background I might add) do. The truth is, no community agrees on everything. There are many queer men against marriage equality and DADT, so why should we have to be in some universal form of agreement.

Another point I've repeatedly made and others have ignored is that we are protesting, specifically, the parts of the film we HAVE SEEN. We are protesting the title. We are protesting the poster. We are protesting the use of rape humor in the clips we've seen (and, especially putting it in the mouth of a trans women character). We are protesting elements of humor incorporated into the scenes of violence. We are protesting the imposed injection of camp and humor into situations which, in the real world, ain't funny. Ask Amanda Gonzalez Anujar, a trans woman late of Queens, NY who was just strangled and her family was wailing with grief as her body was placed in the police van. It ain't funny. It ain't campy. It ain't entertainment. And, especially, it AIN'T ABOUT YOU.

Gina said...

I'd like to comment on both Scott and Tom's posts. Firstly, I wrote piece about this film appearing at Tribeca FF on my media blog which started much of the protest about this film. (http://alturl.com/g7ag) My blog is specifically about deconstructing trans depictions in media. I've been following issues of media activism since I saw Vito Russo's lectures about gay people in film back in the late 1970s and have worked with media activist organizations. So Tom, sorry, your assumption about our connection to those issues is rather uninformed. I'd like to also point out this protest, with the exception of one cis ally and a few trans men allies, this protest has been almost completely by trans women who've overwhelmingly been in conflict about this with gay cissexual men. (and now you, a certain number of transgender people who support the film and some straight people from Dallas connected to the filmmaker). So, if we're talking about empowerment... the films empowerment is a violent fantasy (originally about gay men revenging violence, Mr. Luna admitted) projected on to trans women vs. an actual boycott initiated by trans women. Hmm, which has more of a sense of reality?

Just to clarify several assumptions. I've never encouraged the film to be censored. I have repeatedly asked the Tribeca Film Festival to explain their programming decision to show a film whose title is offensive to a large portion of trans people (which is a fact), to a film which, in the clips I have viewed, frames the issue of anti-trans violence as an entertainment, camp and humor film, which is, in fact, not a direct creation of the trans community since the director is a bi-identified cissexual man, which has a rather offensive poster including a trans woman licking blood off a phallic knife and has the headline "it takes balls"...hahaha). I wanted to know if they had ANY consideration for how people in the trans community might react to those elements in the film. Another issue was the trailer mentioning Angie Zapata and Jorge Lopez Mercado in the same minutes as having a bunch of campy drag fun. (and, that's obviously, a moot point since Mr. Luna did edit that out of the trailer). Tribeca FF has NEVER responded in any way to our letters or concerns. They've refused to even have a dialog about it. There has been no willingness to even apologize for possible offensive the film might have inadvertently caused many (not all) trans women). Again, the website we created was "Boycott Ticked Off Trannies... yadda, yadda".

willam said...

i like the piece and the comment but i do want to defend the author. the person who mostly organized the protest (also the girl behind the MAGNET group) hadn't seen the film and has consistently posted untrue things about the film's content and what happened during the making of it.
Ashley love has no credibility

Penny Marie Sautereau said...

You might be interested to read my take on this film here -


- as, like you, I seem to be in a minority among trans women in that I think this movie is a GOOD thing. Kate Bornstein herself comments on said blog, so I say if Kate Bornstein says this movie is awesome that should be good enough for everyone else.

Gina said...

Okay, honestly, why should we give a crap what Kate Bornstein thinks? I think many of us would prefer to think for ourselves.

To whit... the reaction of transphobes to this film. If there's one thing I've learned about perpetrators of transphobic crimes, they overwhelmingly feel as if THEY are the ones who've been victimized by the person they've murdered. For the not-too-subtle mindset of men who do these crimes, the idea of being attacked by trans women (especially ones who are portrayed in a pretty sexist, highly objectified manner), I believe, will just set off their fantasies of violence even more. Good job.

Moreover, for a person such as yourself who's into being spiritual, your concept of empowerment feels shallow. To me, real trans women standing up and refusing to be portrayed as cartoons is a LOT more powerful than some movie with violent fantasies. The reality of the flesh and blood of our dead young women being represented by some stupid entertainment exploitation film is just offensive. But I acknowledge it's the kind of thing Americans love to click into rather than actually thinking, which is partly why we're such a violent nation.

Btw, I want to really compliment Kathy for her thoughtful response.

Gina said...

Btw Tom (Mr. Media expert) your 3 criteria for transphobic films are so absurdly not to the point I have to wonder why you even brought them up? What you're talking about has more to do with talk shows than films.

"Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" is a film that I would have been proud to make"

Wow, that says a lot about you as an artist. Aim low, stay low. Believe it or not, I think you could pull it off.

Also, way to be patronizing and condescending about telling trans women what parts of our body we should or shouldn't feel objectified and dismissed about. Evidently you're some kind of expert?

Sorry you don't have any balls of your own (I'm talking about bravery and compassion), but that's no reason to assume trans women sit around joking about their testicles (if they still have them). Sounds like some pervy fantasy of yours. Maybe if trans men had an endless stream of bigots obsessing over your pussies as we have creeps obsessing over our genitalia, then perhaps you'd have some compassion and understanding about what being sexualized and objectified in your targeted gender is like. That, believe it or not, most trans women don't consider their genitals a good excuse for a joke.

expede said...

I don't quite know where to start. There are many false and/or fallacious statements made about the boycott so I'll have to go point-by-point and keep it to the top few. Out of necessity, I'm posting my (too long to post on Blogger response ^^;) here:


Sadie-Ryanne said...

"To me, real trans women standing up and refusing to be portrayed as cartoons is a LOT more powerful than some movie with violent fantasies."

I like this, a lot. And honestly I mostly still support the boycott - although I do still very much appreciate the opposing viewpoints.

When we talk about censorship, we also need to talk about power. When a trans artist is censored by right wing cis religious nuts, it's a lot different than when a trans artists (with, if I'm correct, an entirely cis production team) are censored by other trans people. In the first scenario, you're talking about people with relative power exercising that power to silence oppressed people. On the other, you're talking about people with relative (with regards to gender anyway) equal standing fighting with each other. So I don't really think it makes sense to compare the two experiences.

And no, I never much cared for Kate Bornstein myself but thanks for sharing the link! I enjoy reading in general. :)

Unknown said...

Tom - you've already found time to post responses to gay men on other blogs regarding your letter.

I hope you'll find time to respond to those directly effected by it and who are the subjects of your letter here as well.

eastsidekate said...

Thanks for explaining to me what I should and shouldn't be offended by. Normally, I'd object to your condescension, but I see you're a transsexual and an artiste, and therefore an expert on what trans women should think about cinema.

Abby said...

Sorry, William, but you're just plain wrong. As she said in her very first blog post about TOTWK, Ashley Love did "see[] the entire film" before criticizing it. http://transformingmedia.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-are-people-hating-on-glaad-for.html

Sadie-Ryanne said...

@expede: well spoken response!

I guess I also somehow missed or didn't realize that the author of this is a trans man. I agree that it's very uncomfortable, as a trans woman, to be told that I shouldn't be offended by this from mostly trans men and cis gay men, when the negative effects of the film are primarily felt by trans women. When other trans women tell me I shouldn't be offended, I consider it a disagreement. But coming from men it feels different. It goes back to the issue of power differentials I think.

If nothing else, this boycott has stirred some important (if heated!) conversations in our communities.

Unknown said...

As one of the creators of the FB group to whom you've made many ad hominem attacks I feel the need respond to some of the things you've said. However, Brooklyn (who created the group with me) beat me to it~.^ I'm re-posting the link to her response because the first one doesn't work anymore:


And I agree with Kathy's last comment. In your letter you don't even address many of the issues with the film that have been brought up by trans women, and you made false claims that have been corrected *many* times on other trans blogs and the FB group. It really gives the impression that you haven't even researching the issue much (or if you did it was only on blogs supporting the film).

Gina said...

I just wanted to post a link to Brooke's incredible, to-the-point response to the OP because I'm not sure the original link worked. Highly recommended!


Dex said...

Excellent post!

I'm trans and have always been a fan of exploitation films; all the way from the heavily censored Reefer Madness! in the 1930s to Death Race 2000, the Evil Dead trilogy, Foxy Brown and beyond!

To have this addition to such an itty bitty sub-genre (transploitation) has me giddy on so many levels.

The thing is, whether someone has campy taste or not, this film has already succeeded at spurring a whole onslaught of free and open discussion of the issues raised by the artists who made it (as such films always do) - which, in the long run, gives us the best chance of achieving our goals.

Unknown said...

Kathy said...
Tom - you've already found time to post responses to gay men on other blogs regarding your letter.

I hope you'll find time to respond to those directly effected by it and who are the subjects of your letter here as well.


OK Tom - I've gotten my answer. Your too busy with your many nieces & nephews.

Tom Leger said...

I think some of the issue is that I have incorrectly conflated the boycott organizers' requests and the demands made by GLAAD concerning the film being removed from the TFF schedule. That is my mistake, and I acknowledge that.

Also, my chief concern has been with GLAAD, because of the power and reach of that organization to influence media outlets. GLAAD has a very poor record of supporting trans representation, and I think that their attempt to remove TOTWK from the TFF is dangerous and misguided.

I absolutely don't expect everyone (or anyone) to agree with me, and I am thankful for this lively debate about the film. I am honored to be able to contribute my reading of the film--a unique, if not popular, examination of the text. TOTWK has brought together many people--not from the "trans community" but from the multitude of trans communities that exist. I hope you'll agree with me that our differences make us smarter and stronger.

Unknown said...

"reading of the film--a unique, if not popular, examination of the text. TOTWK has brought together many people--not from the "trans community" but from the multitude of trans communities that exist. I hope you'll agree with me that our differences make us smarter and stronger."

I think that you're avoiding responding to substansive concerns raised about agency, the history of depictions of trans women in media and how that history is interpreted by those it depicts. It's also no small thing that one of the tactics used to diminish the credibility of trans women's opinions is to ...diminish their credibility to speak on these issues cogently - dear little uninformed fluff heads that we are who have no experience interpreting media and our depictions. Really? That's a valid form of argument that "brings us together"?

The film may be bringing critics of this film together, but don't delude yourself into thinking it's bringing others together. It highlighted the negative opinions a large segment of gay men have towards us and what some think of our actually having a voice. That some don't take our voices seriously. It certainly will make me think twice about supporting some community members work with my time and funds. It really quite strange to hear some argue that we should not only not have an opinion on this film, but that we should compensate the business owner for the privilege of not being allowed to have an opinion.

I suppose it's for our own good - we should just shut up and enjoy it?

Unknown said...

Tom, I'm glad the Brooklyn was able to clarify the incorrect beliefs that you had about the group and its creators. However, I'm disappointed that it was necessary in the first place since if you had read through the group description and the links at the bottom it should have been clear to you.
As well, you still haven't addressed many of the issues brought up by people in this thread, and by Brooklyn in her reply to you. I encourage you to respond.

Tom Leger said...

Hi Jessie,

While some people might not be calling for the film to be removed from the festival, the press release circulated by Ashley Love specifically did request the removal, as did the GLAAD call to action. That is what I was replying to. Like I said in my previous comment, I am mostly replying to the GLAAD call to action because of the extreme influence of GLAAD on the mediamakers of America. I do apologize for conflating all the protests, as this is clearly a very complex issue, with many groups and individuals voicing their opinions. Clearly not all of the individuals involved in the boycott are professional activists, but some are--specifically the ones at GLAAD, who I believe are using the power of their organization to censor this film NOT out of concern for trans people, or trans representation, but because they need a reason to justify their own paychecks to their donors.

I haven't responded to many of the other comments on this blog because I'm not sure what else I can bring to the table--many people clearly disagree with my reading of the film, and I think that's ok. I wrote this post because I don't think that this viewpoint has been represented yet and I wanted to contribute to the discussion.

Obviously, I disagree that my opinion doesn't count because I'm not a transwoman. I disagree with the idea that the characters in this film are violent psychopaths, I think there is a difference between the buffalo bill character in "Silence of the Lambs" and the three women in TOTWK who torture and kill their attackers.

Most of the other points that are brought up in the response on Facebook are just disagreements with my reading, and to respond to them would be just restating what I have written above. I don't want to waste your time doing that. But if there are specific questions/arguments that you think I haven't addressed, I'm happy to try to respond to those. I am interested in a genuine, honest and fruitful discussion about this film, but please understand that I can't and won't respond to the abusive and bullying comments. (I'm not saying that your comment was, obviously, just explaining why I haven't responded to each individual comment.)

Sadie-Ryanne said...

Tom - I've tried to be very respectful and open myself, and also appreciate the dialog. I hope I haven't been too hostile.

However, I find it disheartening that it seems you have not once acknowledged that (1) your perspective is shaped by the fact that you are not a trans woman or (2) that you are mostly (though by no means entirely) shielded from the negative consequences of offensive media portrayals of trans women like the one under question.

I don't mean to imply that your opinion is invalid because you aren't a trans woman. Your comment ("Obviously, I disagree that my opinion doesn't count because I'm not a transwoman.") seems overly defensive and to avoid the real issue and make it seem like your detractors are saying something we aren't. I don't think folks are saying your opinion doesn't count because you aren't a trans woman, but the fact that you aren't a trans woman IS important both to the ideas you have and the impact of your statements.

I don't think you lend yourself any credibility by ignoring or refusing to respond to the complex privilege and oppression at play here.

Unknown said...


So gentlemen - how worthy do you think this is of humor?

Storm said...

Tom - wonderful post and alot I so agree with. Alot more you have explained well.
I am surprised how what I see is a small percentage of Trans in America are reacting to this. Ashley Love has shown she isnt credible in this battle as she deletes posts in an attempt to control the thoughts of Trans - so anti the American so called 'Freedom of speech.'It shows there is no credibility in her blogs as she is clearly one sided and stiffling discussion to make it appear she has unanimous and overwelming support.
To the movie - It is fictional. It's based on the real life violence that has been carried out on Trans over the years. It shows Trans standing up from their grief and saying enough. It does not represent that this is the way all Trans behave.
The characters are fictional but are based on real life Trans that you can see in clubs and bars around the world at anytime.
You will note that I have been using 'Trans'. The reason being that the characters portrayed represent to me Drag Queens.(I have not seen the whole movie, only the trailer and articles.)
Drag Queens come under the TransGENDER umbrella but they are not necessarily TransSEXUAL's. Some are but most aren't. From what I have seen, the portrayed characters in the film are NOT transSEXUALS.
So saying 'Trans' can mean TransGENDER or TransSEXUAL. Funny so can the word 'Trannie'. However usually Trannie is not used to cover Drag Queens. Personally, I believe the film title more correctly should have been...
"Ticked-off Drag Queens with Knives."
The word Trannie IS offensive to some but it is NOT by the majority of TransGENDERs. I understand the word Trannie was first coined in Australia. It was not offensive and is not. There are times it can be used in a nasty way for sure but it is more commonly used as just a means of shortening a longer word.
This link shows a headline in a long established newspaper here in New Zealand. There was not one objection heard but many Trans supported us. The article is about two sexchanges.(another commonly used, inoffensive word)
Thanks for your article Tom and to the anti's, its a word, a fictional movie, fictional plot, fictional characters - get over it and fight more important issues facing Trans.

April said...

As May approaches, the second year anniversary of an attempted murder on myself a Transwomen who spent 9.5 weeks hospitalized followed by month’s outpatient rehabbing I have to confess when I first heard the title of this movie the only thing that got my was the use of the word “trannies” but that’s a personal thing I have with the word. When I first heard about it though I was thrilled to be perfectly honest just by it’s title, I don’t want to make some blanket statement here but until all these “Trans-persons” who are complaining about the film have walked a city block in my shoes, as far as I’m concerned they have know idea what they are protesting! I hope to one day see the film and I hope I’m not robbed of that opportunity by people who have know idea what it’s like to be on deaths door from discrimination for being a transsexual. Of course this is only my opinion but I happen to think I matter in this world and I don’t need others speaking for me and I especially don’t need others telling me what I should or shouldn’t see in a movie, after all, it is just a movie, there time might be better spent on "real" life issues within the trans-community on something that may even make a "real" difference! April L Murdock

Unknown said...

I want to acknowledge the very real issue of any kind of man, trans or otherwise (I am a trans man), commenting on trans women's genitals. When I saw the term on this website "pussy" I felt gross. I've heard it from gay and straight men alike AS a trans man, way way more often than I'd like. I would like to align with Kathy and Gina, though, when I say that clearly history shows that this happens to trans women in much more violent and consistent way that it does to us. No matter what we feel about the film, it seems the least we can do is acknowledge that it is not our right as men to decide what is appropriate in referring to any woman's genitals in a disrespectful way, trans or no.