- Posted April 15, 2014 by
The Ever-Evolving Transgender Revolution
I believe, in all sincerity, that the Trans Revolution has evolved, and begun again in earnest.
It's amazing how quickly the transgender movement has gained ground in this country, and in many others. One might even say that it’s the fastest growing civil rights movement in the US at this point. But, the changes that have occurred both within the community, and outside of it, are quite staggering when you step back and take a good look at it. The best and most notable examples of this revolution are not easy to miss, truth be told.
Let's start off with something still fresh on everyone's mind, the CNN interview with Janet Mock and Piers Morgan. This caused quite a stir, and you would have heard about it if you heard anything about trans news within the past few months. The cause of the stir? Well, basically it came down to Janet never wanting to be referred to as ever having 'been a boy'. Or, as she put it, she was born a baby. Where is the problem with that? There isn't a problem with that, it's how Janet feels, and is perfectly valid. But, let's consider that it was barely a year ago when Anderson Cooper interviewed Kristen Beck, the transgender navy seal, her story of valor and bravery, hiding, and peeling the onion back, was told to the world. During that interview and story, it was put forth many times that Kristen used to be a 'he'. While it was met with some criticism, it was nothing compared to Janet vs. Piers. Why? Is it a generational gap? Have the goals of trans activists changed that quickly? Perhaps. We could even compare the Carmen Carrera/Laverne Cox interview on Katie Couric's show against an interview with Barbara Walters and Jenna Talackova from 2012. The differences in how the questions are asked, and how the answers are given and responded to, as well as the attitudes involved, are startlingly different. Again, that was just two years ago.
What about Jared Leto? In the beginning, when The Dallas Buyers Club first came out, I heard great things, good reviews, and even praise for Leto. But then, all I heard after the movie started getting press, and got nominated for awards, was that Rayon should have been played by a transgender woman. Then after winning both a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, you could literally hear the transgender activists yelling at him for not saying something for the transgender community, some even taking him to task at film festivals. Honestly though, would you want someone who isn't Trans speaking for those who are? But, what about a movie called 'Transamerica', starring Felicity Huffman. Huffman won the Golden Globe for' Best Performance by an Actress' for her role as the pre-operative trans girl, Bree. It also got tons of awards and press from the international community. But, where was all the hate then? There was nothing but applause from almost everyone. Was it simply that Transamerica was made 8 years before The Dallas Buyers Club? Was it that a woman was playing the trans woman, and not a man? Maybe. We could look at movie roles of trans characters in the past, but perhaps it really is simply that times are changing, and changing fast. So, let's look at some more modern instances of non-transgender individuals playing trans characters. Amazon's newly launched pilot for the series 'Transparent' has been met with mostly positive reviews so far, though it features Jeffrey Tambor playing the trans woman. Why no social media outcry against it? Perhaps it's that this is an older trans woman, and having Jeffrey play her is acceptable... maybe? Or, how about the adaptation of a Robert Heinlein short story that's making the festival circuit right now. It's called Predestination, and has a female lead, Sarah Snook, playing an intersex/ftm character. Still though, no outcry there yet. Perhaps we should wait and see if it gets a nod for the Golden Globe Awards?
We can also see change in our media and television pretty regularly at this point. Almost like we are waiting to see what happens this week. Jerry Springer said he would stop saying 'tranny'. RuPaul has finally apologized for the use of transphobic slurs after six seasons of doing so, after being called on it this year. Wendy Williams apologized for making fun of a transgender individual. Heck, even the Tranny Awards were recently renamed to the Transgender Erotica Awards. All of that happening in the last few months alone. It's not hard to see that the attitude towards the transgender community is changing, and the community is doing its best to make sure that trend continues.
We can even watch as other countries change, probably even quicker than the US. Germany, India, and Australia, to name a few. All of which now have third-gender, non-gender, or intersex options for their citizens. But that doesn't really seem to be anything that we're headed towards here in the states. We seem more to be focused on re-writing the transgender code of acceptance for individuals and the way they identify completely, and quickly. This does leave out those who don’t feel either male or female, but that’s another discussion all together. We've even got a few states where high school students can join the sports team that matches their gender identity. Which is awesome, but for some, it has created its own rift in the transgender community. By that I mean that some of those states, Virginia thus far, have said the student must have undergone gender reassignment surgery. Which was met with trans activists outcry at the thought that someone should have surgery before participating? While it's understandable as to why we'd be upset, it's also worth pointing out that both the Olympics and the MMA ( where Fallon Fox fights ) have nearly the same rulings for participating in the 'women’s' division. And yet again, you don't see a whole lot of uproar about that. Though my guess would be that we'll see some before too many more Olympics come and go.
It's been a wild ride over the last few years, especially so during this last one. We are moving forward at break-neck speed. You can almost visibly see the times and attitudes changing before our very eyes. Though not everyone, even within the transgender community, has gotten on board with the rapid fire changes in thought so quickly. Kristen Beck gives speeches on two-spirit individuals, and Chaz Bono is looked at as a misogynist by some. You can even see something akin to battle lines forming between activists like Calpernia Addams and the newer guard of trans activists, like Zinnia Jones or Parker Marie Molloy, and that's not even the only feud going on between trans activists and supporters. While it's great to push for change, hell, it's admirable to push for change, I have to sit back and look at all that has been accomplished thus far, even with all the hatred for one another we seem to have when we don't agree on something, and smile at what has been accomplished in such a short period of time.
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