Marti Abernathey

Transphobia On Film, Hoosier Style

Filed By Marti Abernathey | November 05, 2007 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: protest, transphobia

Transphobia in moviesAt times, I really get down about being the T part of GLBT. Yesterday was definitely one of those times. I learned that "The Gendercator" will be playing at our local GLBT film festival. If you're not familiar with the film, I'll let the creator of the film explain it.

Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.


Transgender historian and academic, Susan Stryker, describes it this way:

The film expresses a long-familiar anti-transgender polemic: the idea that transsexuals are anti-gay, anti-feminist political reactionaries who collude with repressive social and cultural power; furthermore, that transsexuals are complicit in the non-consensual bodily violation of women.

The film was removed from the Frameline Film Festival (the largest LGBT film festival in the world) after a petition drive. The organizers of the petition drive said this:

We, the multigendered LGBT community and its allies, declare that there is no space for hatred and transphobia in our community institutions. We reject the notion that transsexuality is anti-feminist or anti-gay. We demand that our community artists be held accountable for the messages that they deliver, and that artistic projects not be allowed to hide under the mask of "sparking dialogue" when the intention is actually to divide and demonize. We further ask that Frameline's LGBT Film Festival and other LGBT institutions refuse to show the hateful movie "The Gendercator," which makes no attempt to engage in actual dialogue. We assert that the dialogue that most urgently needs to happen is not around the validity of trans people, but instead around the double standards that trans-related material continues to endure within our own community.

I have little doubt that the position of The Gendercator in the lineup was planned. It's played JUST AFTER the gender section of the Festival. How's that for a little back door transphobia? Take a guess who's on the selection committee? Keep reading.....

Recently in another post, Tom, a gay man, asked me why I was so angry. It's not just this movie. It's not just us being stripped from ENDA. It's not that we have to protest to be included in ENDA. It's not that we don't get access to our legislators, then get blamed for not advocating enough.

I'm pissed off because we have to protest and complain about our place in this community. Whether it be ENDA, or the Matthew Shepard act, or a film festival, we have to put up a fight to be respected and included. I'm pissed that a supposed "GLBT" film festival would have the gall to put the creator of The Gendercator, Catherine Crouch, on the selection committee. In short, I'm pissed because I feel like a goddamn stepchild. My place in this community should not be up for debate. I have a rightful place in this community. I have stood beside my brothers and sisters in the GLBT community and fought for marriage equality. Transgender heroes like Sylvia Rivera have paid with her flesh, for our right to stand in this community, side by side, with gays and lesbians.

I had someone say to me that the beneficiary of the Indianapolis LGBT film festival, Indiana Youth Group, shouldn't suffer because of this "adult swizzle of this." If I had an African American film festival that featured "Birth of a Nation" and "The Jazz Singer" hosted by Ted Danson in blackface, would giving the money collected to the NAACP make the movies any less racist? What kind of credibility would the NAACP have after taking part in such an event? Would I have any credibility in the African American community by saying, "I'm not racist, I just helped a black guy yesterday"?!?

You want to have a film festival that's centered around radical feminism, and include "The Gendercator," be my guest. But don't you dare call this a GLBT film festival... unless the T, in GLBT, stands for transphobia.

For those of you in the Indiana area, I'm planning a protest of the premiere night. Please email me for more details.


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Just a couple of things...

First where can I see this film for myself and form my own opinion on the film instead of listening to someone object to what is probably just a politically incorrect movie. Personally i am really tired of some people in the TG/TS community thinking they should do my thinking for me.

The second thing and I know i am not alone on this one.

Marti why do always have to play the race card and fall back on some tired old metaphor to make your point.

Using Blacks to make your point is really a cheap shot at both TG/TS people and Blacks.


Take care
Susan Robins


I love what Mattilda had to say about this in her post:

The Gendercator, a 15-minute film screening as part of a sci-fi program late at night at the smallest venue in the festival, had suddenly become the embodiment of transphobia, and any institutional analysis of structural transphobia (or racism, classism, misogyny, etc.) at Frameline was no longer deemed necessary. All Frameline needed to do was to remove this film from its schedule, and try not to program anything so “controversial” in the future.

Just what our messed up society needs; more censorship.
Being a former transperson i would like to see this film. I have a working brain and can make up My Own Mind

Take care
Susan Robins

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 5, 2007 1:00 PM

Sue, this isn't about censorship. It's about a supposed LGBT community film festival promoting a film that blantantly promotes one of the most upsetting and hateful myths out there about FtMs.

Go ahead and make up your own mind. But see the film at a location other than an LGBT film festival.

Showing this film at an LGBT film festival is a pointed slap in the face toward a community already smarting from the ENDA fiasco. I'm both discouraged and extremely angry.

Sue, this isn't about censorship. It's about a supposed LGBT community film festival promoting a film that blantantly promotes one of the most upsetting and hateful myths out there about FtMs.

Go ahead and make up your own mind. But see the film at a location other than an LGBT film festival.

Showing this film at an LGBT film festival is a pointed slap in the face toward a community already smarting from the ENDA fiasco. I'm both discouraged and extremely angry.


I hate to say this Brynn you have made my point regarding censorship. I happen to know there are some lesbians who might like to see this film shown at LGBT film fest. Every myth has a basis in fact. This is what strikes so many raw nerves with the M2F's who freak out over Bailey's book The man Who would be Queen. They would rather censor people discussing that book rather then debunk the myths proposed in that book.

Has it occurred to you that such subject matter is healthy because it can promote discussion and clear the air?

I am sorry your supporting censorship the above quote is evidence of that.

By the way that is that myth that y'all are so apprehensive of?
I don't know many F2M's Enlighten me.

Thank you in advance

Take Care
Susan Robins


It's always sad - in that "bless its pointed little head" sort of way - when someone can't discern between "censorship" and strong objection.

> They would rather censor people discussing that book rather then debunk the myths proposed in that book.

Considering how thoroughly the book has been debunked, and the extraordinary efforts that many well-informed and extremely cogent transwomen have and continue to put toward exactly that effort, this is just bone-headed.

Considering how thoroughly the book has been debunked, and the extraordinary efforts that many well-informed and extremely cogent transwomen have and continue to put toward exactly that effort, this is just bone-headed.

That work is just beginning to show itself.
had the personal attacks by Andria James and Lynn Conway toward Bailey had not occurred this process would have concluded much sooner.

Thankfully this sad chapter in TS history is almost over.

The same dialogue should be taking place regarding this movie. Perhaps we can both put the myths to rest and be more accepting of the diversity in the TG/TS communities at the same time.

Take Care
Susan Robins

This definitely isn't censorship. No one is saying that the government should step in and ban the film. It's about the film fest being able to choose the films they want to show and being responsive to the audience and the community.

Your local mainstream cinemas isn't showing the movie, and that isn't censorship either. It's them deciding that they didn't want to show it.

People can still watch the film on their own if they want to. Or set up their own film festival, as Marti suggests.

Oh, wait, I'm agreeing w/ Marti. I guess this just proves that I'm one of her "jack booted thugs". :)

Hi Alex

I still see this as censorship.
a group that cannot air controversial ideas for to insight discussion on issues relevant to the LBGT communities is imposing censorship on themselves.
And for what reason?

You won't see this movie at the local theater because they are in business to make a profit. That is not censorship that is marketing.

Don't feel ashamed about agreeing with Marti I do sometimes.

The other issue i have was brought out in Marti's blog entry. Marti cheapened his discussion on this issue by playing the race card and using it as a crutch in his post.
This is not only tacky but devalues what Marti's message was.

Take care
Susan Robins

Marti cheapened his discussion on this issue by playing the race card and using it as a crutch in his post.

HE? Was that a smack in the face, or simply ignorance about my gender status?

The race card? You taking your talking points from the RNC? It's a valid comparison. Your Republican talking points won't change that.

First off i apologize for the pronoun slippage.


No i don't take my talking RNC. I am not a party loyalist on ether side of the fence...
Last presidential candidate i voted for was Ralph Nader.

Marti Everybody in the trans community compares the movement to the Civil rights movement of the 60's as a crutch for their justification for equal rights.

it's tired old and shows a lack of creativity.

whatever happened to a movement relying on it's own accomplishments and not the accomplishments of the grandparents of those in the TG/TS civil rights movement?

truthfully if the "activists" must use a crutch the woman's movement is a more appropriate crutch to use.

Still cheap but, less so.

Again i am sorry for the pronoun slippage.
The only explanation i can offer for this gaff is perhaps it's because i don't live, breathe, sleep and eat GLBT.

I have found in real life all that is required when someone uses the wrong pronoun is "excuse me" in a pleasant voice and the problem fixes it self.

Take care
Susan Robins

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 6, 2007 1:23 PM

The only explanation i can offer for this gaff is perhaps it's because i don't live, breathe, sleep and eat GLBT.

What?! Way to NOT apologize and get a dig in against those of us who do embrace the LGBT label. And you accuse Marti of taking cheap shots?

In my experience, LGBT affiliation has absolutely nothing to do with a willingness to use appropriate pronouns.

Marti's reference to race, btw, was a totally valid analogy.

would you rather i lied?

There are always people who are willing to find something negative no matter how deep they must dig or no matter how hard they have to spin things.

Truthfully i eat, sleep and breathe electronics.
at was an accident of birth that i ended up being both TS and legally blind.

So you can dig all you want Brynn, the fact that you are taking what i said meas spirited shows your intent.

Maybe it also explains why i have always been successful as a transperson and why others are not.

Take care
Sue Robins.