Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). This is a day for recognition and action for our trans friends and neighbors. An opportunity to lift up the transgender community, who are largely forgotten by the world and society at large. The horror world has a dicey history at best with the trans community, but there is a unifying thought amongst the community regardless; that is, that horror brings the social misfits and outcasts together. It portrays us as holding power, taking the power back from what society has deemed as normal or “good.” It creates a space for us to exist within, allowing us to get one step closer to a semblance of belonging, of community, of family.
We want to say that we’re living in the most progressive times in human history, but we have so much more work to do. In many cases, some people’s first exposure to transgender people or even androgyny in any sense is in television or film. If that portrayal is negative, if that portrayal has the trans or non-conforming person as the butt of the joke or in a negative light, opinions can be shaped that will take significant work to change or mitigate.
Before we get any further, for those who are not familiar with terminology regarding gender identity, I’d like to direct you to The Genderbread Person, which breaks it down as wholly and succinctly as I’ve ever seen it. Better yet, they update the graphic and features every so often, as new information is discovered and new studies come out. To give you an idea, when I was in college studying psychology just a few years ago, we were on v2.0 of The Genderbread Person. At time of this publication, we’re at v4.0.
As a genderfluid performer and a part of the horror community at-large, I have espoused my thoughts on how those of us under the transgender umbrella are portrayed and treated, particularly in my pieces on being a queer horror performer and on the rise of alternative drag in mainstream media. Since the latter article was published last year, there has been precisely one assigned female at birth (AFAB) performer on RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 13’s Gottmik, who is still in the running at time of publication.
It took thirteen seasons of the American original version to accomplish this. It took Dragula three, and Camp Wannakiki no more than two. To say there’s a long way to go for the original Supermodel of the World is to put it generously, but enough said about her.
For those looking for transgender representation in horror, I have a couple of recommendations, including Brad Michael Elmore’s feminist vampire tale Bit (review), Dead Meat’s podcast episode on transgender representation featuring Joan Ford (embedded below), and Morbidly Beautiful’s incredible article on transphobia in horror.
In an effort to boost trans creators within the horror world, I offer up our second episode of CryptTeaze Family Fun Night, in which filmmaker, Troma baby, and Theophobia’s own Dylan Mars Greenberg joins myself, Chase Will, and Monte Adams to discuss the Guy Maddin surrealist classic Careful. Featured in the episode are clips from her band Theophobia, including “Shitstorm,” which would be featured in Troma’s Shakespeare’s Shitstorm.
Dylan has also passed along the GoFundMe for a disabled Black trans friend of hers named Christine, who has not received some of her disability assistance and is living in a shelter at this time. You may find the fundraiser at this link. Every dollar raised will go to the direct assistance of a Black trans person in need.
Friendly reminder that Black trans lives matter. Always.
Finally, I encourage our readers to do their own research. It is one thing to be aware of an issue, such as transphobia or LGBTQ+ homelessness, but it is another to put in the work to make any sort of change. Social justice requires constant effort, it requires knowing where we’ve been and knowing where we need to go. At time of publication, the state of Arkansas just passed a bill banning healthcare for transgender youth, states such as Texas and Ohio have bathroom bills in the legislative chambers, and our trans siblings are still subject to the “trans panic” defense (that is, using legal defenses claiming the victim's sexual orientation and/or gender identity contributed to the defendant's actions) in thirty-eight states and five territories.
There is still so much work to be done, and there is no better time than right now to get to work.