The end of March marked an important day in LGBTQ history: the International Transgender Day of Visibility. As the name suggests, this day is a celebration of trans visibility on various fronts, be it politics, sports, social work, or media. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of trans folks, and commemoration of how far the LGBTQ movement has come in the United States.
Now while the International Transgender Day of Visibility may have passed, that’s no reason to stop celebrating trans visibility in films! Here are a few notable films you should watch this week to reflect on the discrimination faced by trans folks even today, gain a better insight into their lived experiences, and acknowledge their struggles and achievements.
Paris Is Burning
You’ve got to hand it to Jennie Livingston for singlehandedly changing the way LGBTQ cinema was perceived with Paris Is Burning. Set in the 1970s, the film focuses on Manhattan’s drag ball scene back in the day, emphasizing its importance in LGBTQ history. Ballroom drag has been a defining point of both Black and Latinx queer culture, and the film plays tribute to that.
Of course, the film has received its fair share of criticism, most prominently about making a spectacle of the Black drag ball culture. However, the characters in Paris Is Burning are openly and unapologetically trans, and this has made a huge impact on LGBTQ cinema. Given its date of production, the film is considered to be ahead of its time and has played an important role in highlighting trans visibility.
Tangerine is a 2015 Hollywood film that combines comedy, crime, and drama to share the stories of Black, trans sex workers. It’s a film about friendship and love between two trans women who are also sex workers, and tells the story of their struggles and hardships. In doing so, it honors as well as uplifts their experiences and attempts to paint a picture of how violence is closely connected to transphobia prevalent in the society at large.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll find yourself developing a newfound respect for trans sex workers and see things from their perspectives. A must-watch if you really want to reflect upon trans visibility!
Different For Girls
Back when they were in school, Paul Prentice and Karl Foyle were best friends. Prentice would often defend Karl from bullies, making the school experience better for them both. Years later, when they unexpectedly meet again, Karl has transitioned and is now known as Kim. Paul doesn’t recognize her, and Kim has no intention of revealing this bit of private information to him, until the two begin falling for each other.
Different For Girls is a 1996 drama-comedy-romance that explores romance between a trans woman and a heterosexual man. Filled with witty dialogues and thought-provoking scenes, it’s not to be missed!
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