Hello, a tiny bit about me before I start. I’m Rhi/Alex and have been out as trans for just over a year (yay) and have a lovely girlfriend who is also a trans woman. I have just started volunteering with Gendered Intelligence, a charity for young trans people and was lucky enough to go to the trans network youth conference this year. I say all this just to let you know I’ve met many trans people of different ages and background. And oh yes. I have heard every view , from cis people, about The Danish Girl. Your opinion of ‘it’s just a movie’, ‘it’s good exposure’ or ‘they cast the best actor for the part’ is not unique. BUT I’m going to stop being grumpy and tell you what transgender people (not all of us we’re not a hive mind) want you to know.
I’m probably going to go and see this movie, and a best enjoy it as a movie and at worst get super pissed off and tense at how badly it handles everything. It is possible to enjoy this movie as a story and thats cool. But when it starts to spread bad information, thats a problem. (There is also the problem of a man cast to play a trans woman but thats another kettle of fish, I have written a 3000 word essay on the subject).
I’ll give you an example of boy meets girl, which I enjoyed. However they used the wrong terminology (I think it was ‘biological woman’ and ‘used to be a man’). I heard my parent use ‘biological woman’ shortly after watching it. Channel 4 use this expression to and its an incorrect and offensive turn of phrase.
Chanel 4 also made a TV show called Girls To Men, and they guys in it seemed cool and nice but the narration was so inaccurate and hard to watch. Was it better that the world saw these great guys at the expense of correct information and promoting the view that trans guys ‘used to be girls’? I think no, I think most trans people think no. It’s ok if your an ally and watching it because you will know they messed up, or be informed of it. But the general public won’t.
This happens all the time. The only show I can think of that I have seen portray trans people in a non offensive way with no mess ups is made by My Genderation. It was the first time I ever saw a non-binary person on a mainstream platform. It was made by a company of trans people, including Fox Fisher who I was lucky enough to meet. So out of a lllll the stuff out there its one thing that has been ok (and the one thing that has been the project of trans people). After all of that we get a bit pissed about how we are portrayed. We get annoyed that we are some thing to gawk at to cis people, and that there obsessed with what gender we ‘used to be’, and our hormones and surgery.
I looked at my gf the other day as she was changing clothes (I have permission to say this) and i though ‘this is what all the fuss is about’ as i looked at her body. all the documentaries, the harassment, the mystery of transgender. She has a lovely body don’t get me wrong, but its just a person under there. And when stories like the danish girl are told incorrectly we get away from that message, that trans people, especially trans women who face so much violence, are people. That message gets lost under the fetisisation of being transgender that hollywood puts in its stories to sell tickets.
Some trans people are hostile towards movies like The Danish Girl, they feel how they do about it because of their every day experiences leading up to the exasperation of trans women’s stories being told wrong, again, for the profit of cis people. The public want to see a cool movie and learn something, and that would be ok, as long as they did some serious googling afterwards to find out the right info and terminology (which they won’t do). I’m probably going to watch the film, and take it like a bed time story, but I also ordered Lili Elbe’s autobiography.
What we really want is respect and being erased by cis actors is not respect, being told how to feel about our own stories is not respect, having poorly researched documentaries to the level that they are insulting as the only form of representation is not respect. I want to see the film because I love trans stories and i’m not going to let anything ruin them for me. But cis people/people without trans people close to them, won’t see the flaws in works like the danish girl, and will leave worse than they came in, creating more work for trans people and their allies, as they try and correct the misinformation.
(Don’t use the expression ‘man into woman’ , or the terminology ‘sex change’ this book is from the 1930’s) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-into-Woman…/dp/0954707206