Trans representation in media

By: Quentin Miller

Flag representing the transgender community

Name a movie you know that includes a character that’s openly trans.

Now, unless you are trans yourself, I can almost guarantee that you couldn’t think of any. But if you did, was that character played by a cis actor? These are the two biggest problems with trans representation in the media.

Not only do trans people barely get the light of day, even when they do, they are often played by cis actors, which is blatantly offensive especially when the actor belongs to a gender the character is not.

To list some examples of this we have: Glenn Close in 2011, Jared Leto in 2013, Benedict Cumberbatch in 2016, and many more. And those are recent examples. The behavior of casting almost exclusively cis people for trans roles has been around for decades. 

Now why is this a problem?

Well if it isn’t already obvious, it isn’t real trans representation if it isn’t a real trans person. Just like a white man isn’t African American representation or a straight relationship isn’t LGBT+ representation.

This is especially bad when the joke of a character is just the fact that they’re trans, as it turns the trans community into this group that you’re allowed to point and laugh at, but there’s nothing funny about being trans. 

An example of good representation in media includes The Adjudicator, from the most recent ‘John Wick’ film. The actor playing them is non-binary, and so is the character. There’s never a big scene about it, it’s never played for jokes, and the character just exists as a trans person.

Obviously, we’ve come a far way from mocking anyone who even dared push social norms, but our media doesn’t reflect it in the slightest, wether it’s cis directors hiring cis actors to tell trans stories, or the millions of cis people explaining why that’s OK despite the fact it’s not their place to say.

It’s obvious that trans representation in the media is nothing but cheap sympathy points or laughs used by directors to profit off of, and demonize, the trans community.

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