Nearly every film or television program ever made with a transgender character was written by clueless cisgender writers and the trans character performed by a clueless cisgender actor.
These are never realistic portrayals of what it is like to be one of us. This includes some films that won major awards. They always have at least a scene or two–if not the entire movie!–that make us cringe with how horribly wrong the people producing it got things and how much the film reinforces harmful stereotypes.
To say nothing of not even being allowed to have one of us on the screen. We aren’t supposed to speak for ourselves.
Joan Roughgarden, a biologist and trans woman, notes that twenty years ago when she transitioned, public forums in university settings about trans people were often dominated by cisgender mental health “professionals” who instructed the audience to disregard whatever the trans people willing to openly discuss their inner lives were saying. Obviously it couldn’t possibly be like that.
Imagine a white person being able to get away with telling an audience to pay no mind to what African Americans said about how it feels to live every day knowing that they were likely to encounter racism. Obviously it couldn’t really be like that.
This is what privilege looks like. You get to invalidate the inner lives of those who don’t have it.
I have high hopes for A Fantastic Woman. I haven’t been able to see it yet, but from the reviews it may be the first major film (there have been one or two art-house or internet-only shows) to realistically portray what the life of a transgender woman is like.
We may finally be allowed to tell our own stories. If you can’t tell your own stories, then others get to define who you are. Those others are often people who hold you in contempt.