Whose Transsexual Summer?

Back in the fall, a documentary mini-series called My Transsexual Summer aired in the UK on Channel 4. It covered the day-to-day lives of four young trans people as they went about…well… being trans. This was generally advertised as a groundbreaking look at the realities of lived trans experience and an educational, non-judgmental look at an often sensationalized, stigmatized and misrepresented class of people. I imagine that for most cisgender viewers, that’s exactly how it was seen and received, too.

For trans people, however, the reaction was different. Some people thought it was alright, not bad, a fairly good, positve take on things and pretty low in the cissexist-bullshit and misrepresentation meters. Others reacted to it with a big giant “meh”, seeing it as just another in a very long line of documentaries claiming to show our strange, novel, exotic world to the idly curious cisgender public, knowing that it would undoubtedly hit all the usual tropes (shot of trans girl putting on make-up in the mirror? trans guy swigs a beer on his back porch?) and would, at best, be fodder for the trans documentary drinking game. And still another set were displeased, regarding it as just another act of appropriation, of cis producers making money exploiting trans lives. [Read more…]