Some movies about transsexuals are really good. I was impressed with Normal, which depicts a middle-aged male in Iowa or some such place reaching the end of his rope and transitioning. And Boys Don't Cry, the story of Brandon Teena's murder in Nebraska, is really good.
Transamerica, on the other hand, did not impress me. All the reviews I remember seeing were positive, yet I found it vaguely disturbing. There seemed to be something wrong with it, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it -- until last night. At the Queer Town Hall, among the enormous diversity of my own demographic group, I realized what it was. The main character in Transamerica is not a whole person. She's a transsexual, and that's pretty much it.
In truth, trans is only a part of our lives. In some ways it's huge, and in many ways it's not. Kind of like anyone else, really. I have a wide variety of interests - beekeeping, homebrewing, writing, camping, hunting. A transman I know is a Buddhist monk. Another is an atheist motorcycle rider. A transwoman friend is a kayaker, gardener, and archivist, and has been in a committed relationship for over 30 years. Another transwoman lives in a polyamorous relationship, is a technical writer, and has been a sex worker, while a third is a former pilot and 'Paddy' of three young boys.
One thing we do all have in common, is that we are activists. Just by showing our faces in society, we make a difference. And when you have spent a significant part of your life in a prison of society's expectations (due to the domination culture we live in), the taste of freedom is intoxicating. You want to share it.
Bottom line - if you want to see an accurate depiction of what it means to be trans, watch Normal or Boys Don't Cry. Transamerica is fluff.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
Reading List for Information about Transpeople
- Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
- Conundrum, by Jan Morris
- Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
- My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
- Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
- She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
- The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
- Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
- Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
- Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
- Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
- True Selves, by Mildred Brown
- What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
- Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano