“As a historian, I’ve just seen this for so long, and it’s such a longstanding trope,” Stryker stated. “It’s like a trans person is someone who is deeply deranged and is a danger to other people and kills people out of their own sense of being psychotically flawed.”
Yet analysis signifies that transgender people are far more likely to be victims of violence than the remainder of society.
There may be a number of causes for this. The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened isolation, monetary pressure and different types of stress. Transgender people face better dangers of being compelled into unemployment, poverty, homelessness or intercourse work, making them more weak to violence.
“I think once you have that framework in place, then it’s easy to see the trans person as a dangerously psychotic person,” stated Stryker.
Many of the transgender characters we grew up studying about or watching replicate this concern.
Alex Schmider, affiliate director of Transgender Representation at LGBTQ media monitoring group GLAAD, informed CNN that the “conflation between gender nonconformity and this serial killer trope” was half of the explanation “people so misunderstand who trans people actually are.”
“Media is such an informant of culture and public understanding. And these representations that we see on screen do not just live on screen, they affect people’s lives … we’ve seen that in a lot of the policy and legislation that’s been introduced over the past few years, in narratives about trans people.”
“We know that people conflate this, they don’t make the distinction,” she stated. “There is a very determined, concerted campaign to justify discrimination against trans people specifically using these manufactured fears.”
“I can’t sleep at night knowing that kids are feeling how I felt when I was growing up. And [Rowling’s book] is part of a much wider problem of transphobia and anti-trans prejudice that we’ve got in the UK where basically trans people are being scapegoated,” she stated. “It’s sick.”
A consultant for Rowling declined to remark to CNN.
Lees says that whilst one of essentially the most privileged trans girls within the UK, she needs to go away the nation. “It’s not a safe place for trans people,” she stated.
“I’ve experienced violence. I’ve experienced sexual harassment … you want to drag out this old trope of ‘man puts on a dress and goes around killing women.’ It’s unkind, it’s unfair and it’s unrealistic. I just don’t understand why we are focusing on the imagined threat that trans people present rather than the very real documented violence that we know trans people face.
“The media is completely refusing to speak about the truth that we face horrific violence as a group, and that we are being pushed in lots of instances to suicide.”
Beyond villains and victims
Violent portrayals aren’t the only problem with how transgender people are shown on screen.
More than half of the tracked episodes were rated negative/defamatory, 35% good to problematic, and just 12% outstanding, according to GLAAD.
The most common profession for fictional transgender characters was sex worker; a fifth worked in the sex industry. Anti-transgender slurs and dialogue featured in many episodes and storylines, the study found.
Numerous movies and TV exhibits in latest a long time — from “The Cleveland Show” to “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” — feature cisgender straight men vomiting repeatedly after learning they had touched a trans woman.
But transgender representations in pop culture are gradually expanding beyond negative themes.
Laverne Cox’s standout efficiency in “Orange is the New Black” in 2013 paved the way for a broader range of transgender characters, from “Transparent” to “Billions” to “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Schmider says that when cisgender actors play trans characters, “that may typically reinforce the misguided notion that being transgender is a dressing up, it is gown up, it is efficiency, when the truth is, transgender people are residing full, genuine lives.”
In the “Disclosure” documentary — which looks at the depiction of transgender people in movies and television — actor Jen Richards says: “Having cis males play trans girls, in my thoughts there is a direct hyperlink to violence towards trans girls.”
Behind the scenes
Schmider says that tradition continues to be “countering 100 years of misrepresentation and inaccurate stereotypes” of trans people.
“We’re nonetheless in a spot of getting past transition narratives, getting past specializing in the trauma and the tragedy of trans people’s lives … the hope is to have more nuanced and complicated portrayals,” he said.
V Varun Chaudhry, assistant professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, told CNN he believes changes in the past few years are driven by trans people working in writing and production.
“We’ve seen a extremely stunning explosion of trans sensibility, one which’s been actually numerous, and bred largely by the work of Black trans of us like Janet Mock [writer, director and producer of ‘Pose’],” he said.
Ryan Murphy’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” made history this season by casting Brian Michael Smith as broadcast TV’s first Black transgender male actor and character to be a series regular.
But Chaudhry says we still need “more numerous people who are behind the scenes.”
White men still dominate Hollywood, Broadway and publishing, he said. “When that is the case, it is at all times going to trickle down into illustration that is restricted. So I believe there wants to be actual concerted effort at each single stage to embrace people within the dialog and to expose the normative conventions that we now have.”
However, the experts warn that greater visibility can also put trans people at risk. Stryker says vulnerable individuals may become targets for “unresolved aggression, anger, hostility, confusion.”
Visibility “is each essential for altering people’s opinions” and a potential problem, she says. “Visibility can be a lure that truly accelerates violence towards essentially the most marginalized.”