Friday, March 18, 2016

How my reactions to Trans representation on TV has changed

I'm a Cisgender heterosexual male.  So I never have nor will I ever be able to emotionally react to Trans representation on TV the way an actual Trans person would.  But still there is a change I've noticed in my perspective I'd like to share.

I've never been hostile to Trans representation.  I've never had trouble believing that situation is real.  Even my moderately socially conservative parents have never had trouble believing it.

But very recently, the extent of my potential to be emotionally bothered by offensive portrayals of Trans individuals in fiction has increased significantly.

I can't say the Caitlin Jenner story breaking changed my perspective on the issue at all, but it definitely increased how often it entered my mind.  And was a main inspiration for this post on my SolaScirptura blog, which I made coincidentally two days after season 6 of PLL started.

I think a major factor in what has changed my outlook is "Game Over Charles", the season 6a finale of PLL.  Both the content of the story itself which I felt was ultimately putting the blame on Transphobia.  And the controversy surrounding it, reading everything Heather Hogan has written about it.

I'm on record on this blog for one thing as saying how bothered I was by killing Charlotte off.

But perhaps a good example is the NCIS season one episode "Dead Man Talking".  I wasn't watching season 1 of NCIS when it first aired, but I know I'd seen all the closing episodes of Season 1 before PLL premiered, in fact I had seen all the first 5 seasons by when TVD started like a year earlier.

"Dead Man Talking" is an episode in which the killer winds up being a Transwoman.  She and Tony wind up making out, with him not knowing she is Trans.  She winds up dead.  And the implications are mostly played for laughs at Tony's expense.  No one really uses the correct terminology, not even Abby or Kate.  It's repeatedly stated that Tony kissed a dude.

When I first watched this episode, it didn't bother me.  I knew on an intellectual level it was problematic, but I was mostly indifferent to that.  And even laughed at the jokes.

It aired on TV again very recently, in the last few weeks.  I caught only the ending really.  And this time I was really bothered by it.  And felt bad about how I'd reacted to it originally.  And I thought of Charlotte DiLaurentis, and more importantly all the real life Trans Women who I'm sure saw it in 2004 and were deeply offended.

I'm not going to use this to defend PLL by saying "look how much worse it could be", that would be inappropriately dismissive.  Like saying it's invalid to be object to Gone with The Wind because it's not Birth of a Nation.

I'm sharing this experience, partly to apologies for not being more sensitive sooner.  And partly to offer hope, that minds are changing for the better on this issue.

And to any Trump voter who would call me a "pussy" for caring about this.  Who would think I'm being "politically correct" for not wanting to stereotype an entire group of people as being manipulative murders.


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