(SPOILERS for the episode A Quiet Night In)
Dear Shearsmith and Pemberton
I want to start of by saying I love your show Inside No. 9
I started watching it on recommendation of my Dad who enjoyed ’12 Days of Christine’. My favourite episode has been ‘Cold Comfort’ having both worked for a call centre and wanting to go in career helping vulnerable people. But I won’t go on singing your praises. I would like to briefly draw something to your attention, not because I want to moan but because I respect your show a great deal.
I thought the episode A Quiet Night In was beautifully crafted, but I would question the way you treated your transgender character. In the little representation transgender people get in television they are often portrayed as victims.
‘Since 2002, GLAAD catalogued 102 episodes and non-recurring storylines of scripted television that contained transgender characters, and found that 54% of those were categorized as containing negative representations at the time of their airing. Transgender characters were cast in a “victim” role at least 40% of the time.’
(A note to those who have not seen it, a couple argue while their house is being broken into. One of the burglars sees the woman in the couple taking of her clothes for a shower, then her wig, then we see her from behind standing up and urinating. She is later murdered by her husband out of rage).
In this episode I see no reason for this woman being transgender, and a great deal of the time transgender people have to watch portrayals of people like them being murdered or working in the sex industry. (‘51% of transgender people surveyed that the way the media represents trans people has a negative effect on their mental health’.)
This is especially troubling considering the very high rate of transgender people who are murdered each year (http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt-project/tmm-results/tdor-2014.htm)
I get that people get killed in TV shows. Thats fine, thats cool. But in the greater context having this woman who was murder be transgender, for no reason that serves the plot, and be killed by her partner just adds to the problem of transgender people being portrayed as victims in the media and reminds transwomen of the danger their lives could be in.
What is motivating me writing to you is I just finished a project documenting the lives of three transgender people, as well as remembering five transgender people (age 15 – 18) who killed themselves this year. And seeing her killed just made me think there is no escape. There is no escape from the fear of violence when you are transgender, there is no escape from being thought of as different when you are transgender. When you are watching a great TV show late a night with the cat on your lap and a diet pepsi, there is no escaping the fascination of watching a transwoman pee standing up and from the fear of being killed.
To you it is a gag about peeing and then a character being killed. To us it is much more. To us it is more violence and more typical media portrayals.
I know that you probably didn’t know any of this. Now you do, in the future would you consider using trans characters more sensitively?
I can’t wait to see the great and harrowing work that you make in the future.
I have included my sources for the statistics used.