We Are All Human

The easiest way to captivate an audience with film is to create a relationship between the characters on the big screen and the people watching. Relating to relationships, experiences, and even characters shown in movies is a fundamental factor in human entrancement to cinema. While most people are able to see themselves in characters, it is difficult for those who are not given the positive representation of their personal identities to connect or find relatable content. The transgender community is one of many groups who must deal with the psychological and social effects that the film industry has on their daily lives.

When done correctly, media portrayals of transgender people can promote not only inclusion but acceptance in society. However, many transgender roles in movies or TV shows often spread harmful misconceptions and stereotypes. For example, GLAAD carried out a study that showed that “40% of transgender characters are cast as a victim” and “21%” of them are often “cast as villains.” Hollywood altering the trans experience by casting it in a negative light in almost every form of media spreads misconceptions to cisgendered people. This allows for non transgender individuals to be more discriminatory against those under the trans umbrella. While producers could be using transgender characters and roles to promote gender acceptance within their audience, they often use harmful stereotypes as a plot enhancer, which stunts the growth of transgender acceptance in society. Marge Piercy’s poem comments on how society’s expectations and needs can harm an individual’s growth, “The bonsai tree… could have grown eighty feet tall … But a gardener carefully pruned it.” Like a gardener pruning a tree, the film industry has been stunting the spread of gender identity acceptance for decades.

Furthermore, the lack of positive transgender representation is absolutely discouraging and damaging for those in the community. Not only does the societal perception of transgender people change due to stereotypes shown in media, but it also affects how trans people feel about their own identity. As Blaire Sommerville says in his documentary, “There’s so much going on, there’s so many things to react to.” This is similar to the mind of a trans person who has to navigate their life knowing how society perceives their own community negatively. Having exposure to overwhelmingly negative representation affects the mental health of transgender individuals, it gives them a constant reminder of the negative aspects of their life.

The implementation of positive transgender roles would allow individuals in the community to have  “a sense of permanence that nurtures the heart, that cripples one of the most insidious of human anxieties, the one that says, you do not belong here, you are unnecessary.” It would also allow transgender people to find others that they relate to and allow them to feel comfortable with themselves. Creating positive transgender representation and implementing it into media that people consume regularly would increase the amount of transgender acceptance in society.

5 thoughts on “We Are All Human

  1. I’m cisgender, and this article has definitely opened my eyes on how often a transgender audience is overlooked/demonized. Thank you for writing this!


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