the crying game Dil

Notes in screenplays show that writers often have a good deal of contempt for the trans characters they create. With almost no exceptions–and this includes movies that won major awards such as The Danish Girl–trans characters are seen not as human beings struggling with an incredibly difficult existential dilemma, but as members of a freak show that can be used to entertain the ignorant and insensitive, which often includes those who write the screenplay.

I have reached a point where I don’t think that cisgender writers ought to create trans characters if those characters are more than briefly passing through a story.

I sometimes write fiction and have completed two novels and some short stories. As someone who knows a bit about writing, let me observe that because I am not African-American I would never feel competent to write about the inner lives of those who have lived that experience in a racist society such as ours. I’m not that arrogant.


2 thoughts on “What Screenplay Writers Think of Trans Characters

    1. No, I don’t think so. The characters in the films discussed, despite flaws in the way trans people are presented (cisgender writers often get nearly everything wrong) and the transphobia and misgendering that show up in the screenwriter’s notes, are each trying to live authentic lives under incredibly difficult conditions. Just to get through an ordinary day when you are one of us often requires an ongoing degree of tenacity and courage that most cisgender individuals can’t even imagine. It takes confidence in yourself, not self contempt, to push back against a society that doesn’t want you to even exist, where coming out as trans puts you in real danger of losing your job, being evicted, being denied even ordinary medical care, being ejected from your religion, being abandoned by your family and friends, being insulted and ridiculed by strangers, being assaulted, and being murdered. As a friend of mine, who like so many of us has been through hell, put it after we had a horrific murder of a young trans woman in the town where I live, “I’m proud to be trans. If you’re trans and you’re still alive, you have survived things that would kill most people.”


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