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Why Realistic Representation of Trans People Matters in Media

Discussion in 'Current Events, World News, & LGBT News' started by Hot Pink, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. Hot Pink

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    There are a lot of people who seem to wonder why the trans community gets their knickers in a bunch when shows like Work It or when games like Dragon Age II represent transgendered people in a comical light. Oh, that man is in a dress, that's funny. Oh, that woman has a deep voice, that's funny too. Sometimes that's all that's to the joke too. A guy in a dress. Work It's comedy depended on people thinking that one fact was funny to hold the show together. And ABC publicly commented that it didn't think there was anything wrong with that.

    It matters because we're human beings. We're not fictional. We're not like the aliens or monsters that you kill in a video game. We don't disappear when you turn off your game or take out the movie. We're real, living people. As human beings, trans people deserve dignity and respect. I'm not without a sense of humor, but when the majority of your representation in the media is a joke, it grates on your nerves. This isn't about having a sense of humor, it's about having to put up with people pointing at you and your community and laughing at you constantly. Anyone would get tired of that.

    The truth of the matter is that most people wouldn't pick me out of a crowd as being transgendered. I fit in pretty well with the female crowd. For good reason too because I'm a beautiful, confident girl. I don't stick out like a sore thumb at all, like most people think trans people do. I'm not an unusual case, either. There's a lot of trans people out there that no one would guess are transgendered.

    What should matter most about this unfair portrayal of trans people in the media is that the media is what most people use as their window into the world. If the media displays trans people as the punchline of a joke, that's how people will see us in the real world. Honestly, people often don't know any better. Most may never even meet a trans person, so they don't have anything to gauge the reality from fantasy. I think that if there were more accurate portrayals of trans people in the media, it would be a big step for people to begin to see that we're not a joke.

    When we're depicted as being nothing more than "men in dresses" it hurts the progress we're trying to make in being taken seriously. You may not think that it's a big deal. You may even think that's it's a rare thing and maybe I should "grow a thicker skin," but perhaps that's because you don't don't have to deal with it on a daily basis.
     
  2. Hexagon

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    *motion seconded*

    You said it well.
     
  3. Wolfy

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    Preach it!

    I was in school the other day. We have two dummies for our health occupation class. One's a girl, and ones a guy. They both have boobs, and a penis though. The kids thought it was hilarious and started talking about how it's disgusting and weird and odd. They started talking about know girls who dress as guys, or guys that dress in high heels and what not. It really made my blood boil. I just sat there and smiled though because I don't want them to know I'm trans. I'm a guy, but when people are assholes like that I just wanted to hit them all.

    We were watching something on a pregnant man too, and they were talking about it being wrong and blah blah blah. I think we really should educate people. Like, the media really should get their heads straight and educate everyone that we're not weird people who do it for fun or anything.
     
  4. BradThePug

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    I agree with this.

    The sad thing about the media as it stands now is that it follows the cultural paradigm. We need to see the media go outside of this. We need to see some shows that challenge this stereotype.

    The problem with this is that as long as the media makes shows that algin with the views of our culture, we will see very few of these programs. Unless we see the culture change itself (without the help of positive media coverage, which I don't see happening), the media will continue to portray trans people in this way.

    I agree with Wolfy that we need to educate people. Education is the key to getting rid of the stereotypes of trans people. We need to show society that trans people are not weird.
     
  5. seeksanctuary

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    Granted, some people simply ARE men in dresses... and many of them count as transgender. But that's not all there is to trans people, and none of them deserve to be mocked or used as the punchline of a joke. :/ That is wrong.

    Education is so important, but it requires standing up and saying something. It's risky, but sometimes it's worth it.
     
  6. DhammaGamer

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    It bothers me that the propagation of words like tranny and shemale and "chicks-with-dicks" is so casually allowed in movies and television. The scene from Hangover2 had my brother cracking up, and I was sitting right next to him. It wasn't long after seeing that movie that my brother was drunk and calling me a tranny and throwing me a against a wall for being a freak ... so lame =/

    It's like, I really like always sunny in Philadelphia and the portrayal of the transsexual girl who Mac dates is usually open and empathetic to our condition, but it's still the butt of a joke, like there is something wrong or strange or inherently funny about the fact that Mac is dating a "tranny."

    In one episode, the plot involves charlie and frank getting married for health benefits and they go to her for advice, and I'm like "why would she know anything about the ins and outs of same-sex marriage? she's a girl!" And frank makes a statement like "I don't want to have my dick cut off and sold to china so I can end up on the treadmill all day like this guy!" ... /sigh
     
  7. maverick

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    Whoa whoa whoa whoa...

    Who was the transgender in Dragon Age II? Cause I played it and I didn't notice one.
     
  8. Nemo39122

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    Very well said! :thumbsup:
    I'm not trans myself so I don't understand as well how it must feel, but I definitely have noticed how the media portrays transgendered people and I find it at the very least to be annoying, sometimes just plain offensive. I honestly wonder sometimes how the media and society as a whole gets away with these kinds of things...but then I realized, even our politicians (in the US at least) can say the most outrageously ignorant things...but that's a whole separate issue lol

    Thanks for posting this. :slight_smile:
     
  9. TruffleDude

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    The GLB part of the community went through this as well. I understand that the specific issues at hand are unique for the G, L, B, and T communities, fact is you have the power to change these things. G and L have gradually changed their portrayals to be more positive through activism. Check out "The Celluloid Closet" if you want to learn more.

    There is an episode of X-files called "Genderbender" where the aliens can change sex. I wonder if this is a more fair treatment of the trans community? Have to give it a re-visit...

    Either way the concept makes me think about what it would be like if we could all change genders at anytime, at will, even during sex - back and forth. Maybe by ingesting some chemical gain the ability to shape-shift. How I would identify if that were the case, who would I be attracted to, would gender even matter at that point? What would matter, emotional connection, intellectual connection, spiritual connection?
     
  10. WillNeverMarry

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    I think transphobia is a big problem, probably more so than homophobia nowadays. People, in general, seem less willing to say "thats so gay" etc but freely use the words "tranny" etc. I can't stand it when people say stuff like that. While I personally don't understand how it feels to be trans, I understand feeling different from my peers by being gay, so I can relate to how difficult it must be to continually see the issue being a source of light-heartedness in the media and society. Things will gradually change though, it wasn't that long ago that TV always portrayed gay people as the sterotype but now (in the UK at least) there seems to be a more realistic view. I'm sure it'll be the same with trans characters, and it'll hopefully change over time as ignorance is combatted.
     
  11. Mogenar

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    Look, being trans isn't wearing a dress. It isn't wearing boxers. It isn't hentai or comedy. Granted, there is being a transvestite, which really IS wearing opposite-sex clothing, but me? I'm a girl, dammit.

    Stop calling me "he."

    Just an s is all I ask for, people! Anyway, that kind of stuff REALLY pisses me off. And another thing, it's not as simple as 'post-op' or 'pre-op.' It's a process, and even then, not every single trangendered person chose/will choose to take it. I know I plan to as soon as I can, but still. That's just me. Bottom line? I'm not some freak. I'm a person, like you. Being trans is about being uncomfortable in your own skin, in a way. Everyone is like that to some degree. Everyone wishes for something different.

    But at the same time, being trans isn't like a woman wishing she had bigger breasts or a guy wishing he was taller or someone wanting a different hair color or thinking they need to lose weight. It's more complex.

    Basically? Yeah, that scene in DA2 was kinda funny, I admit.

    But don't do that shit constantly, otherwise it's annoying.
     
  12. Hot Pink

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    One of the prostitutes in the brothel is a trans woman. She's pretty obvious because she's the one that sounds like she smokes ten packs of cigarettes a day are gargles with gravel.
     
  13. Christiaan

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    Actually, the best representation of trans people in the media was when a hot blonde babe walked by, and someone said, "Who is that?" "That's just our coach" "So we have a new coach now? God...she's hot!" "No, it's still the same one...she just had a sex change operation" "Well...wow. She looks good!" Essentially, the reason I liked it was that it implied, you CAN go through a sex change and NOT come out looking like a freak, kay? That's the one big misconception I think a lot of people have in their heads about sex changes. Heck, the only reason I'm not the best candidate is that it's hard to remedy being 6'1.5", but anyway...

    I second the motion, but I second it with good humor. I honestly think that the best course for this campaign would be positive images and positive language, such as pointing to beauty pageants just for trans-women, biographical portrayals of their lives, etc.. Hollywood runs on positive, appealing imagery. Hollywood runs on interesting, tear-jerker stories that the public would actually want to hear about on their down-time. Hollywood wants to hear a good story about a trans-woman who just wanted to be a mom, just like her mom, just like her grandma, to carry on the lineage. Hollywood likes beautiful portrayals of good people who have good values.

    What I would shy away from would be some of the more shrill, nasty rhetoric we've seen out of parallel organizations that have lost a lot of public favor as a result. Look, trans-people are a minority. It's just a matter of fact that a minority has to work harder than most people to get public acceptance. That's no reason for anger or bitterness.

    Unfair? Unfair is a person who was born with a mind that doesn't have the ability to create or understand beauty. That's unfair. It's normal to have challenges during one's lifetime. An unusual set of challenges is no different. What really is the difference between the struggle to be accepted as one's spiritual sex and the struggle to earn good grades in school? Or the struggle to advance up the industrial ladder? It's just less common. It's still one of many challenges that any human being might face during a lifetime. Only a truly weak--and truly defeated--human being would want a life without challenges, in my opinion.

    Anyway, that's my view.
     
    #13 Christiaan, Mar 9, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  14. seeksanctuary

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    I'd be willing to state that I think the roots of homophobia lie in transphobia. What do I mean? Well, honestly. Look at it. The big issue with homophobes is "oh no this man isn't being a proper man and doing what proper men do oh no"/"oh no this woman isn't behaving like a real woman". See my point? Homophobia stems from religion, sure, but also assumptions on what a person of a certain gender should act like, sound like, look like, etc.

    Also, my boyfriend's sister is about 6". So tall transwomen, there is hope. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
     
  15. Level75

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    Well, even then, I don't think just because a person can pass for a typical person of the opposite biological sex, that the opposite isn't a realistic portrayal either.

    At our agency, we serve individuals with various developmental disabilities. Most of them are so low functioning they cannot even act as their own guardians, despite being adults. So they have state appointed guardians. The state appointed guardian of the consumers of our group home is, quote-unquote, a "he-she" as some people in our agency refer to "him-her". She has a deep voice, large hands, a large frame, and is pretty obviously not a biological female. We speak to her respectfully, yet behind closed doors, people refer to her as if she were a fraud woman.

    You'd think an agency of people who make it a mission to treat disabled individuals with respect would do the same for sexual minorities. Especially for one who shares a similar goal. But apparently not...
     
  16. Hot Pink

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    Not saying that every transition turns out great and that sometimes a few of the portrayals aren't realistic, but they're saying that we're ALL like that. I'm not. I know a few other trans women who aren't that way, either. We have very little to no representation in the media.