For a long time, the trans community has been in an abusive relationship with Hollywood. There are good times, sure, but more often than not, we are treated poorly, and then made to feel guilty — or unhinged— when we speak up.
Recent years have seen an increase in trans stories on screen, but not all of these are legitimate victories for trans representation. Yes, Laverne Cox became the first trans person nominated for an Emmy in 2014, but Jeffrey Tambor won two in a row for his portrayal of a trans woman — a role he, as a cisgender actor, never should have played.
Tambor closed his 2015 Emmy acceptance speech by dedicating his win to the trans community, specifically saying “thank you for your stories.” That statement, which I’m sure was meant with sincerity, takes on a more sinister note when you consider that Tambor’s starring role in Transparent co-opted a trans story, amidst outcry from the community. It’s like being robbed, and as the thief runs out of your house, he calls back “Thanks for the television!”
Hollywood has made very clear that it is in fact our stories, and not us, it is interested in. As “trans” becomes a talking point the world over, the appetite for our stories seems to be growing, but the opportunities for trans actors and actresses have not grown in parallel. The reason is simple: Trans roles continue to go to cisgendered people. And every time we cry foul, cis producers insist that they’re on our side, that there’s a perfectly good reason, that we just have to give them a chance. Sometimes, they even assure us it won’t happen again. Read more via Medium