The BFI continued whetting our appetites for their upcoming BFI Flare Film Festival (formerly the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival) today, publishing their list of 10 great Transgender films.
Representation of trans folk has been making the news recently, particularly in the wake of debates about Jared Leto’s casting in “Dallas Buyers Club”. For all of the arguments thatcis gender people should be free to play trans gender parts (“it’s just acting” certain people cry on repeat) this surely ignores issues about access to roles faced by trans gender actors. As Juliet Jacques has asked elsewhere, how often, for example, do we see transgender people cast in cisgender roles? With this being so, there’s very good reason to think not even making a concerted effort to audition trans gender people for trans gender roles is just another way of excluding them from Hollywood.
What’s so weird about this, as Jacques points out, is that there is a rich history of trans people playing trans characters. As she says:
“they could fill gaps in semi-improvised scripts with lived experience, and draw on deep emotional memories for pre-written scenes. Paradoxically, these performances didn’t strive for “realism”: they had no need, as their personal histories provided authenticity and dodged the reduction of “a transsexual” (in Stephenson’s words) to a set of practices and conventions”.
There are some excellent films on BFIFlare’s list, all deserving of their place. But there is also an interesting disparity: Only 1 of the 10 films is predominantly about transgender men (I should mention, though, that I haven’t seen “Paris is Burning” so am deducing this from what I’ve read about it. Correct me if there’s a significant role for a trans man in that film.)
So, we’re not only asking you which are your top ten trans gender films, but we also want to know which are the great movies about trans men? Is “Boys Don’t Cry” really alone? Tell us in the comments below!