Disclosure gives us an in-depth look at Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and the impact those stories have had not just on a transgender lives but on American culture as a whole.
Director Sam Feder puts together a documentary of enormous value, not just because of the breadth and depth of its interview subjects (actors certainly, but also historians, researchers, activists and more) but because this film acts as a valuable resource for cis-gendered people to learn and reflect more on the topic without burdening the trans community. Often we lean on minority communities to teach us how to value and respect them when we should be doing the work ourselves. Feder has generously accounted for our laziness and apathy and has made this easily-digested anthology on trans representation widely available through Netflix. No excuses: just watch it.
Let trans people tell you how it’s felt to grow up watching what few transgendered roles there are be of trans people being trafficked, raped, beaten, and murdered. And yet still they were grateful just to know that somewhere out there, someone else felt like them. Or what it’s like to see cis-gendered people playing trans-gendered characters, perpetuating the notion that some sort of trick is being played, or that gender is a kind of performance. And how important it is just to have any kind of representation at all, since the vast majority of us either don’t know someone who is transgendered, or don’t know that we do – and this includes most young people growing up who are trans themselves. Movie and television characters, however, come into our homes and our consciousness, so we need to get them right.
This documentary could easily shame me for not asking the right questions, not saying the right things, not knowing the right people. Instead, it just allows us to be a part of the conversation, to start thinking in the right direction, to start noticing the gaps, and to meet some people outside of our normal circles. They have every right to be angry and yet Feder and company flood us with hope and optimism. They show us the path forward with respect and dignity, and the very least we can do is take that first step.
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