Oh, And About That Bechdel Test? (And Another Cool Link!)


… how many fictional films have EVER featured two trans women discussing something other than gender, presentation or men?

…how many have even featured more than one named trans character at all?!

Different For Girls - One trans character (plus DI Lestrade!)

Boys Don’t Cry – One trans character (gets killed!)

Transamerica – One named trans character (happily endures ridiculous levels of gatekeeping!) … there’s a scene with a bunch of minor trans characters, but they only talk about transition itself.

The Crying Game – One trans character (is treated brutally, being repeatedly beaten and assaulted!)

Gun Hill Road – One named trans character (also brutalized and assaulted, one scene rather perfectly mirroring a similar one from The Crying Game!) … one additional unnamed trans character, who only interacts with the protagonist to assist with transition, in a shady and dubious way.

Better Than Chocolate – One trans character

Bad Education – One trans character (gets killed!)

The Adventures Of Sebastian Cole – One trans character (gets killed!)

The Badge – One trans character (whose death drives the plot!)

The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – One trans character

Breakfast On Pluto – One trans character

Dog Day Afternoon – One trans character

Dressed To Kill – One trans character (horribly offensive!)

Ma Vie En Rose – One trans character

Normal – One trans character

The World According To Garp – One trans character

Myra Breckinridge – One trans character

And for TV?

Queer as Folk (US) – Two named trans characters over the course of 5 (6?) seasons (one a recurring minor background role that is portrayed very insultingly, never interacts with another trans person. And one other trans character with a minor role in one single episode, also a highly insulting portrayal)

The L Word – One trans character (not as bad as Queer As Folk, but still pretty bad)

Degrassi – One trans character

Ally McBeal – One trans character (mostly played for laughs)

Dirty Sexy Money – One trans character

And of course lots of victims of the week in shows like CSI and Law & Order: SVU, some characters in Nip / Tuck, lots of soap operas like Coronation Street with Harley Cropper, and some really really awful portrayals for comedy on shows like South Park, Soap, The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Always one at a time.

Basically? We are eternally only the single, solitary trans person in the entire universe, perpetually trying to fit ourselves into a cis world.

The only ones I can think of that pass my little trans Bechdel test?

Hedwig And The Angry Inch, which happens to include a few honest, genuine interactions between Hedwig and her guitarist, implied to be a trans man. And kind of sort of Ticked Off Trannies With Knives.

And here is an absolute must read, “Things I’m Expected To Do For Cis People In Return For Them Not Hating Me: An Angry List“, from Radical Trans-Feminist.

 

 

Comments

  1. Sour Tomato Sand says

    I know it’s not about trans women, but what was your opinion of Albert Nobbs? (I actually fell asleep during it, and didn’t finish it, but that doesn’t say much about the movie– I had taken a sleeping pill, I had had a long day, and I had ran three miles earlier.)

      • Sour Tomato Sand says

        Yeah, from the parts I’ve seen they tried to portray it like Nobbs was using it as way to hide from the world after being raped. It’s like they were trying to make it out to be that he (Albert) just wanted to have the opportunity and safety that men had at the time.

        But I didn’t get that from it. Through the movie Albert sees himself as a man, he envisions a future running a shop as a man, taking a wife, and having friends and customers over to have tea in the parlor with him and his wife.

        There is a part where he is talking to another trans man and the other trans man asks him what his name is, and he says “Albert.” And then the other trans man asks what his real name is, and he says “Albert.”

        I don’t know, that seems pretty trans to me.

  2. tort says

    It’s a fair point but it’s worth remembering that the test for women should be passed in nearly every movie given that half the population is female whereas there are not that many trans people in relation to the total population. I think it’s less a case of having more trans people playing important characters and more a case of having those characters less prone to offensive tropes and stereotypes.

  3. Pyre says

    Hedwig spoilers:

    Unfortunately, John Cameron Mitchell is on record saying that Yitzhak (played by Miriam Shor) is biologically male, but cast female to get better back up harmonies.

    But then, given the end, I guess it’s up to interpretation as to whether Yitzhak is actually a closet drag queen or closet trans* woman.

    • Susan says

      I think it’s clearer if you watch the deleted scenes or the stage production… Yitzhak is a drag queen in some European country when Hedwig meets him and she makes him the same deal essentially that she got – a ticket out but he has to leave something behind, in this case he’s told he can never dress as a woman again. Which is why in the end, Hedwig becomes whole again and then releases yitzhak from the bargain, and you see her put on the wig and fall into the audience, also whole again. Drag queen or trans woman is up for interpretation still though i think. I never understood why they cut that scene, i think it was an important one.

  4. Happiestsadist says

    Hmm, good point. I can’t think of ay movie I’ve ever seen that would pass the trans Bechdel test either.

    That essay is brilliant.

  5. Mym says

    ‘Red Without Blue’ has Clair talking with another trans woman, though I can’t recall whether they talk about anything not transition-related. Also, it’s a documentary.

  6. OverlappingMagisteria says

    Hey, hey, hey! Don’t forget the toupee principle: there may have been many trans characters in movies and we just didn’t realize it! ;-)

  7. Jim Baerg says

    I’d like your opinion on some written (rather than video) fiction.

    There are some science fiction stories in which easy & complete sex change is part of the background of the story & a plot point.

    Eg: John Varley wrote some stories set in a society in which most people have a sex change several times in their lives.

    In _A Civil Campaign_ by Lois McMaster Bujold, a major subplot involves a female to male sex change.

    I’m pretty sure both authors are cis, & I’m curious what a trans person would say about how they handled the issue.

    • Black Antelope says

      Bank’s Culture Novels are another good example of what might happen to a society with easy and reversible changes. At least one of them (I forget which) mentions the both partners of a couple being simultaneously pregnant being thought of as the ultimate expression of love.

  8. says

    Some European films:

    Princessa — multiple trans women. All prostitutes. One gets AIDS. The lead character gets off the street, realizes that she’s not good enough for cisgender society, goes back to the streets because that’s where she “belongs.” (rolls eyes). Casts actual trans women as trans women, though, and the movie actually passes the test.

    Transfixed — multiple trans women. Most of them are killed by a serial killer. Most are played by cis actors.

    All About My Mother — one trans woman (several trans women in the background). All trans women in the movie are prostitutes in this movie, though our main trans character leaves it behind, actualizes her identity, finds fulfillment. She’s played by a trans woman.

    Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train — one trans woman, mostly well-realized. Played by a cis actor. Functions as a “magical other.”

    To Die Like A Man — several trans women characters, played by cis actors. The title says it all, I guess.

    Strella — Multiple trans women. Central trans woman is played by a trans actress. Character is a prostitute. Seeing a pattern here?

    Wild Side — Multiple trans women. Central trans woman character is played by a trans actress. Prostitute.

    Tiresia — One trans woman. Played by two cis actors. Prostitute. Murdered in the end.

    Sheesh.

  9. Anders says

    I’m more concerned about the angry list at the moment. Trans people should not have to put up with that. The only mitigating factor I can think of is that it’s probably less active transphobia than gray inertia. It’s an explanation, but not really an excuse.

    However.

    I do not like it when people I’m trying to help threaten to kill me. I realize ze is hurt and bitter, and is lashing out. I realize ze is a member of a beleaguered and persecuted minority. And I realize I cannot judge the trans community by the action of one of its members, but death threats are something up with which I will not put.

    I do not expect gratitude for doing what common decency requires (although it’s always nice). But asking for an absence of active homicidal tendencies is, I think, not asking for the moon. I would expect a wounded animal to bite me when I try to help, but I do not expect it from a thinking human being.

    And I don’t think I will be budged on that point.

      • Anders says

        Ze says hirself “It’s not ironic. It’s not cute. It is a threat.” Not ironic. It’s a threat. How do you know it’s not meant to be taken for what it says?

        Can we agree that if it was meant to be taken at face value it would be unacceptable? Not to mention tactical insanity?

        • says

          Because even if this extreme viewpoint were shared by all trans people, we’d still be outnumbered by thousands to one against?

          Of course it’s not a serious threat: it’s a primal scream against victimisation.

          • Anders says

            “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.” (RAH) This goes for all humans, cis and trans. There are all kinds of people who prefer a heroic last stand and a glorious death to a slow demise. If you have lost all hope then the chance to go out in a blaze of glory can be very tempting. Study history if you don’t believe me.

            But do you agree that the threat would be unacceptable if it was serious?

          • says

            I think you’re missing the point. I think the threat, serious or not, is not as unacceptable as the way cis people tend to respond to it. It’s sort of the ultimate litmus test about the degree to which someone is an ally. When confronted with an image of raw, undiluted trans rage, do they suddenly switch teams, make it about themselves, and not bother understanding where that anger is coming from, what it means, what it represents, and how it is intended? Or do they accept it as it is, and remember what we’ve been through, and remember that “Die tranny scum” is a threat that is repeatedly followed through, and about which there is no question whether or not it’s serious, and haunts us throughout our often abruptly ended lives.

          • says

            http://liarlunatic.blogspot.com/2012/02/scary-trans-people-part-2.html

            A wall that proposes to protect, but in fact only segregates. This wall is held up on one side by radical feminists, the media, and religion. They stand at the wall and shout to everyday cis folks that trans people are caricatures, clowns and freaks. They keep that wall high and strong, keeping real trans* people and trans* issues distant. On the other side of that wall is a mass of humanity, where gender variation is both celebrated and punished. There are people singing and dancing and other people crying for help. But the cis people can’t hear it through the wall.

            And when I crept up close to the wall, put my ear to it and listened, I was greeted with the sound angry people, fighting tooth and nail to tear down the wall. I was overwhelmed by my own entitlement, taking my own brand of privileged offense at those who would shout “Die cis scum” as they attempted to topple the wall.

          • says

            Exactly. It’s a legitimate expression of anger. I don’t condone violence, no, but I absolutely support the right of victimized groups to openly express their rage without being met with a bunch of tut-tuts and “well if you act like that I’m afraid I’m just going to have to go back to being complacent in your oppression” counter-threats that reassert the power dynamic.

            Do I support killing cis people? Fuck no.

            Do I understand sometimes wishing you could? Fuck yes.

          • Anders says

            Oh, it’s understandable. Absolutely. And do they have the right to express it? Certainly.

            But is it acceptable? I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            Would I help a person with such a tattoo? Yes, but I might be insufferably smug about it.

          • Anders says

            Look, I’ll think about it. I promise nothing but I’ll think about it. Maybe I’m just not a very good ally.

          • says

            It doesn’t need to be this black/white thing all the time, Anders. You don’t have to constantly oscillate between feeling like you’re either the perfect ally or horrible and making all kinds of mistakes. Being an ally is a process. Understanding things like privilege and oppression is complex, and NONE of us get it right all the time. Nobody is ever perfect with any of it. It’s just a gradual movement forward, just trying one’s best to do the right thing.

          • Anders says

            My emotional life over the last few weeks has been… interesting. In fact, if I had heard of this last week you might well have lost an ally permanently. I was scribbling suicide notes and buying razors (I threw the razors out yesterday.) This may explain why I thought my pain was relevant. I’m not usually this unstable. And hopefully I’ve stabilized now.

            As for the ultimate litmus test… I imagined that would involve something like standing up to a gang of neo-Nazis about to jump on a trans person’s head. Boy was I wrong.

            How about a compromise? I’ll continue to dislike this in the recesses of my mind, but I’ll shut up about it. Considering the horrible implications, I think that’s as far as I can g.

    • says

      Anders, I am glad you are feeling better. Depression is awful.

      I would like to ask you (or anyone feeling similar) something, you don’t have to answer but I hope you will see this and think about it. Why are you a trans ally? Do you have a stake in the fight, do you think you eventually will, or is it only a matter of interest, morality, and knowing Natalie online? Not just for Anders, but anyone cis here: Not everyone actually wants to prioritize trans rights, and those of us with cis privilege don’t always have that battle picked for us. But if you’re picking it, learn how to stick with it: make sure you internalize the understanding that demands justice, get a real stake in the fight so it’s not just a matter of interest. When you have a person you care for who is trans (and really trans people are not such a minority that that is unlikely), I think you’ll get it. If you see the fear on the face of someone you love, if you have the sudden triggering realization that someone else who was ____d could have been her, you’ll get it. OK? Just think about it.

      • Anders says

        Interesting question. On a general, abstract level it’s because of a fundamental moral principle – people should be treated according to their individual characteristics, not according to what group they belong to.

        On a more personal level, I have a lot of online friends who are trans women (for some reason trans men don’t come to Gitp – or at least don’t announce themselves as trans men). The thought of them being harassed or assaulted is frustrating and infuriating. My interest in trans people was originally more philosophical (“how does it feel?”), but I now have an emotional bond as well. Compassion, friendship…

        I’m not trans myself and I don’t have any friends or family that are (that I know of). And, on a side note, this is one attitude that we have to change. People can care for trans rights without having a personal stake in it, just because discriminating against people is offensive on a moral level. Sorry, but that’s a hobby horse of mine – I do not think you meant to imply that.

        So it’s a little bit of moral philosophy and a little bit of caring for my friends and what they’ll have to face (and that caring for my friends is why I appreciate posts like “Seven things about being trans… I also think such posts are more effective than doom-and-gloom posts from a rhetorical point of view.)

        Something like that.

    • says

      Hey Anders!

      I want you to write to me about what you did about that time – do you remember it? it was awful! – when that cis man killed a trans woman of colour. Wow, I remember it like it was yesterday. That one, murderous cis person, huh? What a bastard!

      But it was so inspiring how all the cis people stood up and denounced what he’d done. I’m sure you said or did something, but I can’t remember what it was – remind me?

      I hope I’ve been specific enough about which murder I mean. It was that one when the cis person said something threatening and then murdered her.

      I know that you cis people are very concerned about death threats, so I just wanted you to remind me what you did about that threat?

      It did get your attention, right? When the cis person said, “Die, tranny scum”? You did notice, and you did speak up? Like, you commented on a blog or something about it, right? You took part in a long conversation thread?

      Ah, who am I kidding! The whole *world* stood up for trans people that day, just like you are doing for cis people now.

      Just… remind me, one more time… what it was you actually did?

      • Anders says

        You are right. I did not do much besides think it was awful and thought about something else, quickly. I should have, but consider – I am not well. My life has been hell this year. I have been hospitalized for suicide thoughts once. I should have been at least two or three times more, but I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure i wanted to be rescued… This is not an excuse, but an explanation.

        Being engaged here is draining, but I think it’s worth it. So now I want to ask you – do you wish to see me gone? For good? Am I a false friend? Maybe I am. I will have to think about it.

        • says

          Why are you asking Lisa that? You and she don’t have any sort of history on which she could base an answer, or which should lend any weight for you to such an answer.

          • Anders says

            That’s why I said explain, not excuse. You are right. You have won. You reduced me to lying on my crying for three hours. Was that what you wanted? Will you stop hurting me if I say I was wrong? You can take what satisfaction you want in your victory.

          • Anders says

            Apologize for what? My brain isn’t working very well at the moment. Tell me and I’ll… apologize I guess.

          • says

            MANIPULATIVE TROLL ALERT

            Natalie, I’m not sure you want this person on your blog, but that’s your call. He’s raised a whole bunch of red flags for me, anyway, from the “not getting it” outrage, to defensiveness, to the switch to emotional manipulation and now to a faux-confusion about what the whole conversation was about.

          • Anders says

            I can think of many things in the conversation that I should apologize for, but the big one is that I didn’t react to Coko William’s death. That I do. I should have done more, but I didn’t. And I’m sorry for that.

            There is also the possibility that I should apologize for not embracing wholeheartedly the phrase “Die Cis scum!” That I have no intent whatsoever to apologize for, because people haven’t shown me that I was wrong.

            And they will have to wait. At the moment further discussions are not meaningful. There’s too much emotion, too much bitterness and we are too well entrenched in our positions for either side to budge, even in the face of reasonable evidence.

            And that is all I have to say now, that I feel a little better. I really shouldn’t argue when I’m that emotional.

  10. StevoR says

    How about the Tv show Boston Legal which, from memory, had a positive portrayal of one transgender character and quite a lot of cross-dressing?

    (Sorry, if someone has mentioned this upthread already. Under time pressures so just quick glance & mention here.)

  11. Fox says

    Two more shows (neither passes the test):

    The Closer had an episode where the resident grouch, Det. Provenza, has to call in his former partner over some case they worked on and the partner is now living as a woman. Cue lots of inappropriate questions on her sexuality etc.. and when they decide she needs to testify before the jury, they make her dress like a man so they jury will “take [her] seriously.” Because obviously a jury would never think a trans woman could be or have ever been a good detective.. or something. 9_9

    The British Prime Suspect had a series with a trans woman which was probably on par with current American TV portrayals, except it was aired two decades ago. (I think it was ’93 – the one with David Thewlis.) She got roughed up throughout, was consistently disrespected by the cops, and although Jane (the lead) is initially nice to her and calls her by her chosen name (Vera), the second she needed to press her, she started addressing her by her birth/male name and being nasty to her. Cue a heart-breaking “I thought you were my friend..” and she winds up slashing her wrists in the station bathroom. :| (You never find out if she survived..) Oh, and throughout she’s referred to as a “female impersonator” (she performs at a “gay cabaret”), even though she presents as a woman 24/7. She does converse briefly with some of the other performers I think, but there’s no way to know whether or not they were actually trans and it was pretty limited communication IIRC.

    (I have to plug a webcomic that DOES pass this test: http://www.khaoskomix.com/ because it is awesome.)

    • says

      I was going to suggest some webcomic which was previously mentioned Khaos Komix, But someone pointing out Wandering Son popped to mind another manga – Family Compo. It has Four trans main characters (The main characters Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and the son of a mobster.) You also have the Uncle’s manga-artist assistant pool (they are more background characters.) I am not sure if I would call the main character trans or not certainly plot makes him deal with crossdressing sometimes. (maybe 1/3 of chapters.)

    • says

      Kitty, the waitress at the diner, who makes “hilarious” quips like “I already grew tits you want me to grow a third arm!” and plays a minor role in the episode where Michael and Ben are being used to represent a “normal” gay couple while Emmett, Debbie and Kitty get shoved in the back because the event’s organizers don’t want to show the straight people all the “weird” LGBT folk like effeminate gay men or trans people. Which is incredibly hypocritical due to the fact that Queer As Folk itself totally erased the existence of the trans community and didn’t explore it at all, only giving her something to do to chastise other people for not acknowledging trans folk. The second was the woman with the ultra deep voice who runs a “matchmaking” service that initially leads to Michael meeting Ben.

      I don’t blame you for not remembering them. They were VERY minor characters.

  12. Black Antelope says

    ‘Wandering Son’, if you’re into anime. Its about a pair of children growing up and coming to terms with their gender identities, and the effects that it has on them and those around them.

    Its pretty good, although the manga is better (starting before and carrying on passed the end of the anime). It does end up looking like a bit of a LGBTQA ghetto (since there are very few ‘defiantly hetro-cis’ characters left by the end), but I guess that’s inevitable.

    As for the T-Bechdel Test, it has 3 trans characters, all of whom are portrayed sympathetically (to the viewer at least, they all get a lot of bullying for other characters, but sadly that’s only realistic)

  13. secha says

    Okay, since you’re on the subject of films, did you see ‘The Skin I Live In’? It has some…interesting gender issues but it’s one of those films that’s best seen knowing as little as possible about it.

  14. sivi_volk says

    Well, the gender identities in it are up for debate, but in some lights /Stonewall/ had several trans (probably, according to more contemporary labels) characters who have a number of conversations about non-trans things. And the only person who dies in that is a straight cis dude who can’t handle his relationship with a trans woman.

  15. JoeB says

    There’s Carmen in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

    She’s not treated very well, but that’s kind of the point. The protagonists of Sunny are terrible, terrible people.

  16. says

    There is a really bizarre Japanese movie called “Wild Zero”. It is an zombie movie where the zombies are created and controlled by aliens. The protagonist is a fan of the rock group “Guitar Wolf” (a real band), and the Guitar Wolf is the super hero rescuer. The damsel in distress saved by the protagonist turns out to have a penis, which temporarily freaks out our hero. Ultimately, he saves her once more and decides that true love conquers all, and the movie ends with them holding hands and facing the future together.

    The word bizarre is perhaps too mild to describe this movie.

    • Sas says

      NGL, I love Wild Zero something terrible. I went into it with no idea that there would be a trans woman character, and I was pleasantly surprised at the way it was handled. I love that the protagonist’s trans panic is immediately and decisively brushed aside by Guitar Wolf as nonsense. It may not have the most depth as trans presentation goes, but the spirit of it is in the right place (“So she’s trans, whatever, get over it and let’s get back to fighting zombies and aliens with super-powered musical instruments”).

      • GenghisFaun says

        “So she’s trans, whatever, get over it and let’s get back to fighting zombies and aliens with super-powered musical instruments”

        This is definitely one of the greatest assemblages of words I have ever seen! Thank you!

      • Miri says

        OMG, I love that movie. I always try to explain to people how awesome it is, but they can never quite get past thinking that a film about a rock band defeating an alien zombie invasion while appearing more concerned about their hair must be bad.

        That scene is one of the best in the movie. Guitar Wolf is all like “bah, love doesn’t know gender or rules! Rock and Roll!” and then goes about chopping UFOs in half with his guitar katana. How anyone can see Wild and not agree it is one of the greatest things ever filmed is quite beyond me.

  17. Tiki Idyll says

    All I can remember about the trans woman in Ally Mcbeal is what came across to me (cis white male) as a sympathetic scene that when she revealed she had a penis Cage couldn’t deal with it and broke up with her. I seem to recall it not being revealed in the series until shortly before Cage broke up with her because of it and don’t recall any particular laughs connected with it, just Cage having issues that he couldn’t overcome to be with the woman he loved. Was it actually mocked in the series?

    • says

      There were a good number of jokes, like when he freaked out when dancing close, but they tended to be at Cage’s expense. This was just the latest in a long line of relationships you ruined by being socially inept and finicky.

  18. Tiki Idyll says

    Incidentally, love your blog! “Sincerely, Natalie Reed” and “Love, Joy, Feminism” have rapidly shot up in my personal most read blogs list, currently eclipsing “Bad Astronomy”, “Skepchick”, and “Pharyngula”. Hoping you keep blogging for years and years.

  19. says

    I’m pretty sure there were two trans women talking to one another in “20 Centimetros” (“20 Centimeters”), but I think it may have been in regards to prostitution, so I’m not sure if that does much to escape stereotypes/tropes.

  20. Jackson says

    Has everyone forgotten about Ugly Betty? Now I’ll admit it’s been a long time since I watched it, and back then I wasn’t really paying much attention to trans issues, but my memory is that Alexis was portrayed rather sympathetically, and her being trans wasn’t a joke.

    Am I wrong here? Was she actually totally offensive?

  21. Alexis says

    Ma Vie En Rose – One trans character

    Actually there is another trans near the end when Ludovic’s family has relocated. Chris is finds a new “boy” has moved into the neighborhood. Chris is trying to do normal boy stuff with his new friend, and can’t figure out Ludovic’s reluctance. Then Chris’ mom calls out “Christine”. Chris is thoroughly humiliated. Later at Chris’ birthday party Chris forces Ludovic to exchange his boy cool cow boy outfit for Chris’ unhappy girly princess costume and further trouble ensues for Ludovic.

  22. says

    Bones ones had an episode about a trans woman, although of course she was the victim… I think it was quite ok, it was about a fundamental priest who faked her death to transition and live the life she really wanted – as a priest in a small, progressive church. They only had a very decomposed body, so I have no idea whether the “family photos” were played by a cis or trans actor. However, what I liked where the struggles Booth, the “normal guy” character, had with her identity, and how he learned from the (progressive, sex-positiv feminist, yay!) Bones that a trans woman is a woman, period. Okay, maybe my memory is colouring that in a positive light, but I actually think the whole thing was tackled quite nicely, at least compared to other portrayals.

    Anyway, I think the Reed-Test of course hasn’t the same implications as the Bechdel-Test, since trans* people are a much smaller minority than women (who are only politically/socially one), PoC, gay people, etc. Also, many trans* people aren’t a visible minority, and I can’t think of many non-transphobic ways to disclose that someone isn’t cis in a movie (a gay person can just be shown dating someone of the same sex
    However, I think especially if a movie IS about trans* or LGBTQ people or about things like teenage struggles/identity issues, this

    • says

      Noooo accidentally hit submit :/ Okay, here the comment I wanted to post:

      Bones ones had an episode about a trans woman, although of course she was the victim… I think it was quite ok, it was about a fundamental priest who faked her death to transition and live the life she really wanted – as a priest in a small, progressive church. They only had a very decomposed body, so I have no idea whether the “family photos” were played by a cis or trans actor. However, what I liked where the struggles Booth, the “normal guy” character, had with her identity, and how he learned from the (progressive, sex-positiv feminist, yay!) Bones that a trans woman is a woman, period. Okay, maybe my memory is colouring that in a positive light, but I actually think the whole thing was tackled quite nicely, at least compared to other portrayals.

      Anyway, I think the Reed-Test of course hasn’t the same implications as the Bechdel-Test, since trans* people are a much smaller minority than women (who are only politically/socially one), PoC, gay people, etc. Also, many trans* people aren’t a visible minority, and I can’t think of many non-transphobic ways to disclose that someone isn’t cis in a movie; a gay person can just be shown dating someone of the same sex, or talking about how someone of their sex is hot, or coming out to someone – coming out as trans after transition probably doesn’t happen very often (after all, this isn’t something that influences other people like being gay – which makes clear that one isn’t interested in dating the people one is usually presumed to be dating/sexing). So I guess I can kind of understand that there are, for instance in fantasy or action movies, really few trans* people, although I guess good writing could make non-transphobic characters possible who aren’t defined as “the trans* person”, but rather as “person who does this and also happens to be trans*”, but good writing, in the sense of non-hegemonic, is generally scarce.

      However, I think especially if a movie IS about trans* or LGBTQ people or about things like teenage struggles/identity issues/coming of age, this test is really important. It could be added that the trans* people/women are not allowed to be only the comic relief or portrayed extremely stereotypical to count for the Reed-Test, but I guess I’m dreaming now.

  23. Alexis says

    The Education of Max Bickford with Richard Dreyfus had a trans character who if I remember well enough was presented fairly sympathetically. Max was initially put off by his best friend transitioning, but came around later as supportive.

  24. palaeodave says

    I don’t recall if Denise Bryson in Twin Peaks was supposed to be a trans woman or a man in drag but I think it was a complete side-issue and not at all the main focus of the character.

    (Love your blog, btw.)

  25. says

    Not entirely sure if the characters in “By Hook Or By Crook” would be considered trans (as opposed to genderqueer or something else), but they definitely fit the Bechedel test if they are.

  26. Forbidden Snowflake says

    I’m quite late to the party, but Natalie, I would really like to hear your opinion about Flawless, if you’ve seen it and have one. There are some flaws about it that are obvious to me (cis men playing trans* women, etc.), but hey, the main trans* character is totally not a prostitute.

    Regarding “Die cis scum”:
    cis privilege > impersonal death threat
    Realizing this did make me uncomfortable, so the author’s intention was sorta fulfilled.

  27. Kara says

    Hang on, in Transamerica, wasn’t the the main character’s friend–the one hosting the “transsexual party” with the nameless transsexual characters–named herself? That’d mean it technically passes the Trans Bechdel Test, although I wouldn’t call that a very satisfying victory.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>