20/04/2018 | Writer: Janset Kalan
Mainstreaming might be a beneficial thing as much as it might be an exclusionary thing, too.
Let me make one thing clear!
I, being a trans woman and an activist, do not have to agree with you just because your thoughts happen to be just trendy or popular.
Trans women characters portrayed and performed by cis men actors or cis women or trans women actresses in Hollywood or any other cinema has no meaning positive or negative whatsoever for that specific character in the movie. However, how a trans woman character is portrayed and put in flesh and blood in the screenplay by the screenwriters, and how the director's (especially that of visual director) perception of a trans woman is echoed and edited makes a world of difference. All the subliminal messages put in the finished product are not about what a trans woman physically look like in a movie but what the whole story of the film delivers for the audience.
There is no rule whatsoever that a trans woman character in a mainstream movie had to be performed by a trans woman actress. No one should be entitled to such a right to impose on trans actors and actresses to play trans characters only or vice versa.
There is no rule whatsoever that trans women should all be considered as having same physical features in real life or movie, neither. The concept of "a man in a wig" or out of wig is just as "enough" woman as anyone as long as any person identifies as woman. The trans women visibility and representation could not be put in certain boxes for the sake of a larger audience's or your perception of what an ideal woman body should look like.
Sex work is just another work as any other. You work hard and you have more clients than others so you earn a lot and can spend a lot. You try to work hard but can't have as many clients or can't provide certain services so you earn less. You work just enough to satisfy your needs and pay your bills, so you earn enough for yourself. Just as in any other profession, there is no standardized working styles of your job when you are a sex worker. Sex work doesn't mean you are immoral. Sex work doesn't make you a loser in life. It doesn't victimize you. It doesn't give right to people to feel sorry for you or pity you. And just because a trans woman character in a movie is portrayed as a sex worker doesn't make that character a stereotype per se. How the screenwriter portrayed a sex worker in a movie and how the director echos it in the movie might represent or not represent a stereotype.
Not all movies have to portray trans women in positive or promising storytellings. Just as in real life, just as any cis person, trans people might be good, bad or in-between, criminals or life savers or not caring at all, simply a bigot or open-minded, etc. Let the ugly truth be in the white screen, too.
The current trend when it comes to advocacy for trans human rights seems to be following the old-fashioned mainstreaming footsteps of the gay movement. I will never be a part of that pathway. I will never be able to say that "oh, trans people are good indeed, they also have families, they also pay taxes, they also are contributing to the common good, they also etc." No! Not all people are good in life, not everyone cares about the concept of family let alone the family members themselves, not everyone wants to pay taxes ( I certainly don't), not everyone has to contribute into common good (whatever it is I have no idea). Not all trans people are alike! Not all trans women and men are alike or can pass as (I certainly don't).
I believe that I can talk about trans actors and actresses not being given many job opportunities in the mainstream cinema, now. When I discuss about or criticize something, I usually like to do it the right way. The trans actors and actresses not enjoying an equal opportunity, choice and money in the business is a discussion topic to criticize the capitalism in the movie industry, global pink marketing concerns, lack of an inclusive regulations by union having a firm anti-discriminatory standpoint, lack of a progressive vision by producers, movie-makers and directors. In a just and equal world, any person cis or trans, binary or non-binary, gay/lesbian or straight or bisexual or pansexual or asexual so on and so forth should be able to audition for any roles and be casted if their performance is quite professional and good enough. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. The mainstream productions of large spending usually prefer working only with certain names who will attract more audience to the movie theaters. It is a common marketing misconception. Any LGBTI+ themed mainstream movie of large budget (never mind that I said LGBTI+, the reality is that such productions almost all about cis white gay men and occasionally trans women, leaving Blue is the Warmest Color an exception perhaps) cast an L/G/B/T/I/+ actor or actress based on the number of their fans, media and market visibility statistics, and physical features (how closer to the normative perception of that certain character they are). At least, this is how I do observe the whole situation. I can go on and on about this but I am tired and bored now.
To sum up my point, a discussion for the sake of a discussion doesn't get you anywhere but to a trendy, popular, fashionable status. Mainstreaming might be a beneficial thing as much as it might be an exclusionary thing, too. Try choosing your arguments smartly when discussing and beware that a non-normative trans woman hooker might be reading your stuff.
Tags: arts and culture