We watched The Cell last weekend. It’s a good film, and one which film-critic James Berardinelli believes avoids ‘formulaic expectations’. Hmm. Except when Jennifer Lopez travels into a psychopath’s mind and meets that pesky old cinematic trope of a crazy, evil, transgender-monster. A huge man-woman, (built like a male body-builder, with Pam Anderson boobs), grabs Lopez and deposits her at the foot of a twisted, gender-bending fiend. One questions her surprise.
Clearly she’d not seen these old B-Movies:
• Deadly Blessing – which features a psychotic, possibly intersex, transvestite
• No Way to Treat a Lady – about a misogynistic, cross-dressing serial killer. The film is based upon murderer William Hierans – who didn’t cross-dress
• Deranged – featuring a lonely farmer, whose cross-dressing involves actual female body parts
• Homicidal – with Jean Arless as a transvestite killer
• Three on a Meathook – about a cannibalistic cross-dressing madman
• Relentless – a film with a serial killer who scalps his victims, and dresses in women’s lingerie
[Taken from K.E Sullivan’s ‘Ed Gein and the figure of the transgendered serial killer’: http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC43folder/EdGein.html]
Evidently, Lopez also missed the Oscar-winning Silence of The Lambs, (plot: refined, cisgender murderer helps young FBI agent catch disgusting, transgender killer). Nor had she seen the murderous transsexual in Dressed to Kill, or dreamy Robert Downey Junior playing a demented transgender killer in In Dreams, nor even Psycho’s infamous fictional transvestite sicko Norman Bates. If you want to see trans on film, you can either get a comedy – and laugh at cross-dressing (often for personal gain) heterosexual men: Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, Mrs Doubtfire, etc – or rent a horror. A rich cinematic history we have, no?
Reality differs. Last week Crime Watch dramatised some truly horrendous crimes. In an unprovoked attack, one man punched a young sailor so hard he killed him. A gang of men broke into the home of an old couple, beat them, and left them locked them in their own bathroom. A man abducted a little boy, raped, abused and then murdered him. Another man broke into the home of an elderly lady woman and sexually assaulted her. The faces of 8 wanted men were shown. Yet, at present, the FBI do not have any profiles for serial killers who are trans. Now I’m not saying trans people and women do no wrong – one only need look at the disgraced nursery workers, or the transvestite sex-attacker recently jailed in Gloucester – to see that anyone’s capable of evil. However, I do have a problem with the fact trans appear in the media mainly as objects of ridicule, or as sick, perverted freaks – when actually we’re more likely to be the victims of such people. Tessa Hauke, from Pink News puts the problem into perspective (http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/11/16/remembering-our-dead-trans-day-of-remembrance/):
“A preliminary report for the Transgender Europe and Liminalis Trans Murder Monitoring project states that there have been more than 200 reported cases of murdered trans people from January 2008 to June 2009. That is to say, on average, a trans person is murdered somewhere in the world every three days”
So it’s important we mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) this weekend; and draw attention to our punished brothers and sisters. The TDOR website (http://www.transgenderdor.org/) lists the following UK events for 2009:
Brighton November 19th–21st Public exhibition at the Jubilee Library in Jubilee Square, with photo’s of some of the people murdered in the last year. Short biographies and some tributes will be on display, with information on TDOR and its history. There’s also a book of condolence for Andrea Waddell.
Brighton November 21st, beginning at 3pm 1st Floor of Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, (Dorset Gardens, Kemptown).
Coventry November 20th, 6pm Candlelit vigil in the Piazza at Warwick University in Coventry Full details: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=170672142075
Essex November 19th, 5.30-6.30pm at Square 3, Colchester Campus, University of Essex. Organized by Postgraduate Forum of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex (email@example.com)
London November 21st, beginning at 2:15pm 52 Club, 52 Gower Street, London WC1E 6EB Manchester November 22nd, beginning at 3.45pm. Service by the Beacon of Hope, in Sackville Park, (just off Canal Street).
Oxford November 20th, 7.30pm Trans Q& A – a safe space, open to all those wanting to expand their knowledge and awareness of trans issues. (There’s also a 9pm screening of “Boys Don’t Cry” – a film adding a bit of trans-realism to Hollywood). All at the Old Refectory, Wadham, Wadham College, Oxford University.
We can’t control Hollywood. But we can, and should, pay respects to our dead. Paris Lees (The views expressed within this blog are those of the author, and may not reflect those of the Gender Trust).