Monday, January 30, 2017

You Ought To Be In Pictures

I came across two articles about trans people in media…
Is Japan ready to love a transgender lead character?
Naoko Ogigami's gentle film 'Close-Knit' set to touch audiences' emotions
Nikkei Asian Review
By Fran Kuzui
January 30, 2017

TOKYO -- Naoko Ogigami and Kumi Kobata are a rarity in Japan where female directors and producers are as uncommon as independent filmmakers. When asked how they met, they turned to each other and shook their heads, laughing softly because neither could recall. Eventually Ogigami remembered it was on her 2006 film "Seagull Diner" ("Kamome Shokudo"). Suurkitos, Kobata's film distribution company, came on board as a financier and released the picture in Japan. The collaboration has yielded five films over the last 10 years, including their latest, "Close-Knit" ("Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki Ha"), a film whose subject matter is also a rarity in Japan.

"Close-Knit" ventures into interestingly topical territory, telling the story of a transgender woman, a man who loves her and the young girl who comes into their lives. Rinko (played by one of Japan's hottest young male stars, Toma Ikuta) is a transgender woman living with Makio (Kenta Kiritani, another enormously popular actor) who accepts her unconditionally. Makio's emotionally unstable sister runs off with a man and her young daughter Tomo (Rinka Kakihara) shows up at her uncle's door. Makio's girlfriend Rinko welcomes her warmly and the couple begins to care for the child. Rinko is reminded of her mother's compassion when she was a young boy and discovers her own motherly instincts through her relationship with the young girl. Tomo slowly becomes the child that Rinko will never conceive, but longs to nurture. When the girl's actual mother returns from her adventures to claim her child, a choice needs to be made.
Of course the trans lead is played by a cis-male.
Ogigami and Kobata had already discussed using a transgender actor and had been casting a wide net hoping to find an experienced actor who could play the nuanced character of Rinko. One huge obstacle however was the difficulties that all small filmmakers face in raising funds, particularly in Japan. The interest and involvement of two young stars in the project gave the filmmakers the crucial financing opportunity.

"I loved working with Ikuta," said Ogigami. "He's a total man, but on the set he became so female it surprised me."
The movie sounds great but too bad they didn’t have a trans woman to play the lead character.

The other article that I found is from Australia.
The evolution of transgenderism in film and literature
The Conversation By Michelle Smith, Deakin University
January 27, 2017

In Laurie Frankel's new novel This is How it Always Is, an American family grapples with prejudice about transgender children. Youngest child of five boys, Claude, in addition to wanting to be "a chef, a cat, a vet, a dinosaur, a train, a farmer" when he is older, tells his parents that he wants to "be a girl".

The Walsh-Adams family readily embrace his difference, but the world beyond is less capable of processing the gender non-conformity of a five-year-old child. At kindergarten, Claude is permitted to wear dresses, but is castigated for using the boys' bathroom. After his decision to become Poppy, a school friend's parent threatens violence in the face of Poppy's imagined queer contaminating effect upon his son.

Coupled with a transgender woman being shot on a local college campus after a sexual encounter, the family decides that Madison, Wisconsin is an inhospitable environment for Poppy and moves to more progressive Seattle. Nevertheless, they still find it easier to start again without explaining that Poppy is transgender.

Frankel's novel was inspired by her own experience raising a transgender child. Western culture is currently facing the challenge of understanding transgenderism and the first generation of openly transgender children.
The article goes on to talk about the various stages of trans films
Sensational freaks and psycho killers
Ed Wood's cult film Glen or Glenda (1953) was designed to shock and is primarily about a man who cross dresses. The film's final section "Alan or Ann", comprised largely of stock footage, is more specifically about a transgender (and potentially intersex) character.
Homicidal (1961) features a murderous woman, Emily, who wears a wig and prosthetic teeth to conceal that she is, in fact, Warren. Nevertheless, Warren was actually born a girl, but raised as a boy by her mother because his father desired a male child and would have harmed a girl. In keeping with the sensational representation of transgender killers, the film was screened with a "fright break" at its climax, in which audience members could leave the theatre and seek a refund if they were too scared
Then the author talks about probably the worst trans movies,
Being forced into a particular gender role is clearly traumatic, as in the well publicised case of David Reimer who was raised as a girl after a failed circumcision. However, the implication of Sleepaway Camp and other films with serial killers who are arguably presented as transgender, such as Silence of the Lambs (1991) (and even Psycho [1960]), is that gender non-conformity is frightening and unnatural. As Phillips suggests, revelations of transgender murderers not only make the killings bizarre and monstrous but also "trade on the otherness of transgender to engender fear and loathing".
The next film genre that she writes about is the,
Life in pink: transgender children
It is only recently that transgender children have begun to be overtly represented in literature and film. This is indicative of shift from demonising transgender people to greater attempts to understand them and represent them positively, as in mainstream films such as the award-winning Transamerica (2005).
One of the first representations of a transgender child was the Belgian film Ma Vie En Rose in 1997. It playfully blurs the line between fantasy and reality in order to show the thoughts of a seven-year-old boy, Ludovic, who wants to be a girl.

Despite its arthouse aesthetic and the fact that Ludovic, as reviewer Roger Ebert suggests, exhibited "no sexual awareness in his dressing up", the film was given an "R" rating in the United States. The rating suggests that two decades ago there was still significant discomfort with the idea of a boy who might not "grow out of" his femininity. It also signals that young people should not be exposed to the reality of transgender children.
The last category she writes about is…
The next wave of representation
This is How it Always Is is symbolic of the next wave of representations of transgender people. In novels and films for adults, psycho killers who were forced into the "wrong" gender by a parent, or tragic figures such as trans man Brandon Teena, whose real-life rape and murder is dramatised in Boys Don't Cry (1999), are being replaced by more positive depictions of transgender people.

We are beginning to see stories of young people who are being supported by friends or parents to live as the gender with which they identify – such as transgender boy Cole in The Fosters – and of teens learning to accept a parent's transition, as in Australian film 52 Tuesdays.
We are seeing a change in the way trans people are portrayed in movies, when I was growing up trans people were always the bad guys or the psycho killers of Dressed to Kill and Psycho to now with leading roles like Boy Meets Girl. There are now positive trans films that are bring about changes in people’s attitudes toward us.

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