Rebecca Juro

"Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" Fails, as a Movie and as a Concept

Filed By Rebecca Juro | April 06, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: entertainment news, hate crimes against LGBT people, transgender

It's ticked-off-trannies-with-knives-poster.jpgrare that a three-and-a-half-minute trailer tells you just about everything you need to know about a movie, but in the case of "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives" the movie is everything you see in those few minutes but more... and worse.

First and foremost, this is a really bad movie, but clearly intentionally so. The film is artificially "aged" and made to have a look similar to the "blaxploitation" films of the early 70's, complete with low-budget production, film imperfections, and missing reel notices.The overplayed transgender stereotypes are blatant and ludicrous, but it's the titling and the marketing of this film where the biggest mistakes have been made.

Anyone who sees this movie understands something about it in very short order: This isn't a movie about transgender women, it's a movie about drag queens. Not that any confirmation is needed once Pinky La'Trimm, Emma Grashun, Bubbles Cliquot, Tipper Sommore, and Rachel Slur (no, I'm not kidding) are introduced to the viewer, but there's even a scene in the movie where one of the characters defines herself and the other queens with her as "gay men in dresses."

Immediately after seeing this movie I remarked to someone who'd already seen it that if they'd titled this movie Ticked-Off Drag Queens With Knives probably no one would have batted an eye, but thinking about it now I'm not so sure. The biggest problem with this movie is that the concept just doesn't work, no matter what perspective you view it from. You can make a campy movie about drag queens or you can make a film about hate crimes, but you can't do both in the same film and expect it to be seen as credible on any level.

Director Israel Luna's attempt to meld these completely and utterly disparate elements into the same film results in nothing short of disaster, with the campy, comedic scenes undercutting and perhaps even completely discrediting whatever anti-hate crimes message he may have been hoping to convey. At the same time, the graphic and gory hate-motivated violence ruins whatever comedic value the film might otherwise have had. Hate crimes, after all, just aren't funny, not ever. For all too many, that bloody baseball bat has been real. Including graphic depictions of anti-transgender hate violence in a movie that's clearly being played for camp and comedy comes off as complete ignorance of the reality of anti-transgender hate violence at best and outright mockery and denigration of transpeople and the hate violence perpetrated against us at worst.

The transgender community's reaction to this film is understandable. This low-budget hackfest employs just about every tired transgender stereotype out there and doesn't even do a decent job of mocking itself as you'd expect a film like this to do. Despite the mostly generic hairstyles and clothes that are presumably supposed to reflect the styles of the early 70's, the queens are seen in a late-model convertible that couldn't have been built more than than a few years ago. This film fails even the most basic tests of consistency and good writing.

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives is so bad on so many different levels that it's even schlock when compared to other schlock. It's almost like Israel Luna set out to do an early John Waters film (right down to the Divine-like "mama queen") but just didn't have the chops to pull it off. The hate crime element, while perhaps well-intentioned, seems like an afterthought, just an excuse for the drag queens to comically kick some ass rather than an attempt at any sort of truly serious statement about hate crimes. This aspect of the film comes through clearly even when watching the trailer so it's not surprising that many transpeople and allies find it disparaging and offensive.

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives tries to succeed as a comedy while making a statement about something as deadly serious and unfunny as anti-transgender hate crimes, and therefore fails miserably at both. Honestly, I wonder what the folks at the Tribeca Film Festival saw in this disjointed, poorly-made mess of a movie. Fortunately, real transwomen can take heart that this film is such an unremitting and unadulterated piece of shit that once Tribeca ends it's highly likely that this film and its director will quickly fade back into the obscurity they so richly deserve.

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All I can say is I seen the trailer online, and I can only say I am exceedingly happy that the Internet does not transmit smells, because simply put in any level I could see this movie is a stinker.

After reading the review, I wonder what those people who came to its defense were thinking? I'd like to hear from some of them.

I am kind of curious, but it seemed like a lot of the objections were that people have no right to dislike a movie based on the trailer and the director's own words, that it is practically mandatory for us to view the film before we can even approach discussions about it.

I kind of barrier for entry that only applies in cases like this, and only to the people who object to the film. Somehow, the people defending it are under less of an onus to watch it before saying that it looks like a fun film.

"that it is practically mandatory for us to view the film before we can even approach discussions about it."

That's misrepresenting people's argument, at least folks on TBP. (I'm not following every LGBTQ site discussing this film, so I really don't know. But on the Advocate people are defending the content of this film, which makes little sense since they don't know anything about the content of the film.)

The argument has more been that it's "practically mandatory" to see it before people can try to censor the film. Lots of people have been making a similar point about attempts to cancel Corpus Christi on several college campuses, which is getting protested by rightwingers who don't even know what it's about (other than what fundie orgs and rightwing radio is telling them about the play):

Personally, I'm glad Rebecca got to see it. I know I'm not alone in thinking that GLAAD should not be the sole arbiter in determining what content is appropriate for me to view. Other than them, the only person I knew who had actually seen it was Alexandra Billings, who seemed generally OK with it. And now Becky, who didn't like it.

I dunno, it reminds me too much of a theatre critic who showed up at one of my boyfriend's plays from last year (the best one he ever did, IMHO) 40 minutes late, when the play was 1 hour 17 minutes long. Gave him a bad review, and it seemed utterly unfair to me. Count me as one of those people who thinks that viewing a play, film, painting, or listening to an album should be "practically mandatory" before someone publicly critiques it.

People have been critiquing the trailer, which I should add was pretty telling on its own for a lot of trans people. If the title and trailer tells me all I need to know to avoid the film, why should I be obligated to watch the film?

I will admit that most of the opinions I'm referring to were expressed on Qweerty and a few other places, but I have seen a few commenters here (not, as far as I recall, any contributors).

I'm not going to critique the entire film, but I will critique what I know that turned me off entirely. And I will protest that it received space in a film festival.

I think GLAAD's call to action was pretty substandard, all things considered.

I guess I should weigh in here, since I was one of those defending the film (or, to be more accurate, since I haven't seen the film: defending the right of the filmmaker to show his work to an audience).

In the end, the only thing I feel like I've learned about the film from this review is what expectations the reviewer had going in and how those expectations were not met. So I'm thinking I'd like to read a review by someone more inclined to appreciate the genre, someone with a slightly less pious attitude toward trans politics, someone without an axe to grind.

Also, this is confusing to me: "This isn't a movie about transgender women, it's a movie about drag queens."

Since when are drag queens are not trans?

I didn't say the queens aren't transgender, I said they aren't transgender WOMEN. There's a difference, and it's a big one.

Drag queens certainly are transgender but they are not, by definition (in the vast majority of cases), women. They are self-identified gay men who dress as women, doing what is essentially performance art. That does define them as transgender but it certainly does not define them as women.

As this perspective is confirmed by the dialog in the film itself, I stand by what I said above: This is not a film about transgender women, it's a movie about drag queens, and therefore really a movie about gay men.


Not all drag queens are gay men.

True, Yasmin, which is why I said "in the vast majority of cases". In this particular case, however, the "gay men in dresses" perspective was presented in the movie itself as defining the main characters, so I believe it is valid here.

Your answer gets at the heart of my question, and the heart of my distaste for all the fretting and moralizing about this film.

Why would anyone go see a film called Ticked Off Trannies with Knives expecting a reverent depiction of the lives of what you call "transgender women"? In the world I live in (which includes a pretty broad spectrum of artists, activists, academics, and just plain folks, homosexual and heterosexual), the word "tranny" does not mean "transgender woman." Depending on the context, it can most certainly refer to gay men who dress up like women on stage. And, for that matter, I've known plenty of drag performers who do identify themselves as women and may or may not be in some phase of transition. Does the fact that they put on sequins and feathers make them less authentic "women" than if they were putting on pumps and a business suit?

The most remarkable thing for me about his whole ugly episode has been discovering how strictly many of us define acceptable gender presentation. Personally, I'm in this community, this movement, because I want to tear down those walls, not reinforce them.

Kathy Padilla | April 7, 2010 2:29 PM

Steven BOTH our commonalities and our differences are important and worthy of respect. I think you have a blind spot in understanding how disempowering it is for us to have you presume to speak for us.

Where exactly do we have power now? For example - If all HRC needs to do to show trans representation is hire you - what does that do to our voices?

I understand you're gender vaiant - but you've yet to explain what that means to you & how you've actually been part of the trans community. Not at our major conventions, not at our suport groups, not part of our lobby days or major political actions. Give me something to go on here to understand what your involvment with the community is - did you organize a protest of an HRC Dinner during the ENDA debacle in 2007?

I don't presume to speak for anyone, except possibly filmmakers or artists. I am reasonably certain that I am a filmmaker and an artist, so I think I'm safe there. As far as being gay/trans/male, etc., I'm not so certain. The definitions keep changing.

Kathy Padilla | April 7, 2010 3:46 PM

Of course I never asked you what others definitions were - I asked what that meant to you - right here - right now.

But, if you have no idea whether you're trans or not....... best not to put yourself forward as a spokesperson then.

Could you perhaps be a straight male?

Yes, but according the director of the film, "tranny is basically short for transsexual". --Dallas Voice 1/26/09

Doesn't matter what you and your friends think it means, that was the intention of the director. Btw, from the many posts on Queerty and Joe.My.God about this film, those gay men seem to think tranny means the same as "trans woman"... they even referred to the women at the protest in NYC as "ticked off trannies."

So basically... your supposed definition of tranny (which I don't believe, btw) is moot.

Kathy Padilla | April 7, 2010 2:14 PM

"In the end, the only thing I feel like I've learned about the film from this review is what expectations the reviewer had going in and how those expectations were not met. So I'm thinking I'd like to read a review by someone more inclined to appreciate the genre, someone with a slightly less pious attitude toward trans politics, someone without an axe to grind."

Exactly - we shouldn't listen to trans women before they view and we should dismiss them after they do out of hand, 'cause you know what they're like. All pious and axe-grindy. Not like objective gay men who have no axe to grind in this process. They would never seek out reviews that matched their preconceptions and dismiss the concerns of those who are the subjects of the film. UN-possible!

Fortunately - gay men can speak for gay men AND speak for trans women! You are indeed, every woman. You can speak for black women too, one assumes.

You're premising your entire mini-rant on a raft of unsupported assumptions: 1) that Rebecca Juro is transgender, 2) that, if that were the case, I would somehow know it, and 3) that I am a gay man.

Kathy Padilla | April 7, 2010 2:36 PM

And you are not denying those assumptions.


As Melissa Etheridge would say, yes I am.

Kathy Padilla | April 7, 2010 2:49 PM

It's not like you don't say this in your postings here at Bilerico or in your radio show - or even in some private exchanges via email - Or say in commnets here. Someone who was part of our community would likely have known that.

I don't have a radio show. You're confusing me with someone else.

No Steven, I have a radio show (which is, in fact, coming back new studio hardware for the show in transit here as we speak...return date soon...this is actually happening, folks).

Kathy Padilla | April 7, 2010 4:09 PM

Ahem - sometimes the points, they make themselves.

Good luck with the new show.

Thanks! I'll post more on the show as I have it, but I will say it's going to be worth the wait. This is the most ambitious media project I've ever done, and once it's ready to roll I think it's gonna be great.

The film is about 5 transsexual characters who just happen to work in a nightclub as showgirls. The fact that they're entertainers (like some drag queens do too) does not negate their status as transsexuals. The five characters are played by 3 transsexual actresses and 2 drag queens (including me).
just because they don't write articles and have 9am-5pm jobs like you, doesn't mean they can't be in the same catergory.

i love that you at least realize it's supposed to be "bad" in some sense.

p.s. John Waters LOVED the film. he's seen it too.
so i guess all that leaves for you is a "love your hair- hope ya win!" and tah.

You do know it's been done before?

Killer Drag Queens On Dope

That was 7 years ago.

Your film is not even original. The only thing original was using the actual deaths of trans women for personal gain.

Zoe- none of the characters in the movie use dope or drugs (except when drugged by an assailant).

Also, Candis Cayne apologized for her portrayal on DS$? really? what did she do wrong?

p.s. i'm not trolling. My mother has a google alert on my name. She likes to correct people when they spell it wrong. deal with it.

I'm glad you're proud of your work, but you're going to have to make peace with the fact that a lot of people have a lot of valid criticisms to make about said film.

I guess it'd be better than trolling trans women's blogs and telling them that they're wrong for disliking - or even hating - the film. Sure, not all trans women feel the same way about it, but so what? We don't pass out memos that demand ideological purity.

The fact that Israel Luna made a film with the word "Tranny" in the title after being informed that the word is seen as a slur by a significant number of trans people tells me all I need to know about how much regard he holds for trans women in the first place.

Not even trolling. I think Willam just has a google alert set to the film's title.

When I said that, I was referring to some of his comments on this post.

Honestly, I wonder what the folks at the Tribeca Film Festival saw in this disjointed, poorly-made mess of a movie

According to the tribeca film fest site, they're showing around 160 films. I'm guessing they leave room for bad, low budget movies in an attempt to provide a more diverse selection and help some people get attention who wouldn't otherwise get it.

This one will be shown 4 times, and it probably wouldn't have gotten more than 40 viewers if there wasn't a controversy around it. (Alberto was in a theater festival here in Paris last year and I went to all the plays since I got a free pass... just being in a festival doesn't guarantee people show up). We'll see if anyone goes now, but I'm guessing some people's curiosity has been piqued.

Thanks for the review, Becky. It doesn't seem like this will be winning an Oscar any time soon!

Just to be clear, Jillian and others: the controversy, such as it is, over this film and what we could broadly define as the defense of it has not been about defending its quality as a film (although, yes, many of us have pointed out the history of camp and exploitation films, but that's not about quality in the conventional sense - good grief, these films were and are made to be defined as ultimate "badness."). For the most part, those of us (including me) who insist that it is wrong to call for Tribeca to cancel its showing (certainly the original and, I believe, ongoing impulse - though perhaps not Rebecca's, I don't know) have been arguing that it's:

a) strange, to say the least, to censor a film (and we have explained why we think it's censorship to demand that Tribeca cancel the showing) without even watching it.

b) That deciding to simply pull a film from public view because some of us do not agree with the representations therein is deeply censorious and damaging to public discourse and dialogue.

c) Regardless of the quality of the film, many/most of the the protestors have replicated a form of transphobia even as they claim to do otherwise. Over and over, as various web discussions of the film show, this film has replicated the GLAAD statement's politics:
"the characters are written as drag queens, "performing" femininity in a way that is completely artificial." So what does that say about their stigmatisation of drag queens and for whom feminity *is* an artificial construct?

Sorry to be the bearer of this news - but a lot of people do identify as trannies, drag queens and genderqueer, and so on. And a lot, a lot of people challenge easy definitions of femininity and masculinity and live and dress accordingly.

Rebecca's review is not the final word in all this (and I don't think she necessarily implies that her review is such) because the controversy has not been about the *quality* of the film (a highly subjective basis on which to base the existence of a film) but the many specious, misinformed, censorious and even transphobic claims (in my mind) made by many of the protestors.

And if we are to look at different reviews, here's Alexandra Billings on the same film:

And people can also go to queerty for a good roundup of the issues swirling around the film:

I've been on Bilerico saying a lot about the film in various comment threads, so I'm not really going to engage too much further here because I'll only be repeating myself - and I have no desire to engage in discussions about the quality of the film. But anyone who wants to know what those discussions were like can go to Steven Cheslik-Meyer's piece:

and Alex Blaze's piece about Facebook which quickly became a discussion about TOTWK:

Other issues that came up: Is it the case that only transgender people can make films about the trans community? Would this film have been accepted if a trans director made it? Some on these threads have either implied or stated so - which begs the question: would the film be okay just because a trans filmmaker made it? Why?

Who gets to define the transgender community?

There's been talk, around this film and other instances on Bilerico, about the T separating from the LGBQ. But is there a way that we need to understand that the T is also not a unifying initial? And that some who identify as T may not be accepted by others in the community? (the same could be said about all the letters, of course).

That's a lot to pop up with here - but I wanted to make it clear that the issues swirling around this film have not been simply about people coming to the defense of the film over its quality.

Have a great rest of Tuesday, all.

"Who gets to define the Transgender Community?"

First and foremost, a set of organizations given authority by medical and governmental bodies.

Then a bunch of other people.

Somewhere down the road, you run into Trans people. Who are pretty tired of the others dong it for them.

What you are referring to, Yasmin, is not transphobia, but lookism.

It's based on how some people look, and it would be unwise to say that there isn't an enormous level of lookism within the trans community -- lookism which has a risen as a direct result of people thinking that all trans people look like the Drag Queens.

And is one of the things I tend to speak out against -- even in the arguments around the film.

I saw the trailer and was not impressed. Perhaps the title helped me form my opinion ahead of time. With the struggles of your every day transsexual this movie sure isn't going to help things. How often are there movies that specifically include transsexuals? Not many so this is what a lot of people will see and think this is your basic transsexual.

Wikipedia says a Tranny is a Transgender person (slang), in particular a transvestite

I just find this somewhat offensive and have no plans on ever watching it.

I think "transsexual" makes a better adjective than noun, like "transsexual woman" or "transsexual man." It describes a part of my life but I am not "a transsexual."

Anyway, wikipedia barely scratches the surface of the ways that "tranny" has been used as a slur, primarily as a slur against trans women.

Haha. I think that's my new big question: What if it were well produced, well-written, well directed, with good actors and effects, but the same plot, politics, and themes? What if it were Coen Brothers instead of Luna?

Frankly, if there was good writing, good directing, etc. we'd be talking about a very different film. I'm not sure there can ever be a credible way of melding comedy with the issue of hate crimes in a film, but if there is it's going to take a much more skilled director than Israel Luna to find it.

"I'm not sure there can ever be a credible way of melding comedy with the issue of hate crimes in a film, but if there is it's going to take a much more skilled director than Israel Luna to find it."

Thank you Becky... exactly right!

Kathy Padilla | April 8, 2010 9:42 AM

I suppose if it were a completely different film, it would be a completely different film.

We don'tassess why the CNN cure the gays piece was offensive by saying - what if it were a different piece? What if it were done by Bill Moyers?

Although - if Bill said those same things in the same way - I say he'd hear about it.

I love the way people keep repeating the meme that all of those who are protesting the film or calling for a boycott are necessarily calling for it to be pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival. Keep repeating a misstatement of fact and it will become true, is that it?

To me my biggest issue is with the Tribeca film festival for a) programming a film which likely had a highly offensive title had they given it a second of thought... I can assume they wouldn't have booked a film called "Jew hunters" or "Dago Killers" but they booked this one because, quite honestly, they don't give a damn what trans people think; b) The way the film has been presented as a "ground-breaking transgender film" and a "LGBT film of note" of which it's neither; c) how the people from the festival have never deigned to respond to any of the concerns from people in the trans community about certain problematic aspects of the film (aspects we saw from the title, poster, clips and trailer).

To compare this with protests about Corpus Christi is wholly disingenuous. The people complaining about that play are NOT from the community the play represents. The people complaining about TOTWK almost completely ARE from the community being represented. This protest is more akin to African-Americans complaining about Amos and Andy, gay men complaining about the comedy film "9 Dead Gay Guys" or lesbians complaining about "Basic Instinct." I'll accept those comparisons.

What this discussion has also brought up to me is the degree to which trans people's concerns are so easily dismissed by cissexual people. That we are permitted literally no room in which to express our feelings about how we're portrayed. But I have no doubt that when some homophobic or anti-lesbian work of "art" comes up, all these arguments will be forgotten and "proud gay people" will be allowed to stand up for their communities' rights no questions asked.

I'm going to continue supporting the right of marginalized communities to protest what they (not people outside the community) view as offensive portrays and characterizations of themselves in media. It's called media activism and, even though it's occasionally co-opted by right-wingers (as has every tactic done by progressives), it's overwhelmingly been practiced by liberation movements and people standing up for their rights and this protrest is yet another example of that.

"The people complaining about that play are NOT from the community the play represents. The people complaining about TOTWK almost completely ARE from the community being represented. "

False. The people protesting Corpus Christi were Christians who were offended by how the play depicts Christians and Christianity.


And I think they have a perfect right to protest the play if it doesn't jive with their version of Christianity.

But... that's really where your analogy ends. First of all, in issues of censorship, there are always balances of power to consider. In your example, a very powerful structure (the State of Texas) was pitted against students within the context of a publicly funded institution. They used their power in an attempt to silence the performance.

In our example trans women are speaking up against the way our community has been depicted (in the materials we've seen) as presented by an entirely private corporation. We are NOT responsible for what GLAAD has said and, believe me, GLAAD rarely pays attention to what anyone trans ever says. Some in our protest are demanding the film be pulled from the festival, others (including myself) wish to condemn the film and educate others about the films "problems" yet aren't demanding it be pulled. These are two very different situations which you're trying to over-simplify in order to fit your thesis.

So, do you also condemn gay men who protested "9 Dead Gay Guys" or lesbians who protested "Basic Instinct" or black people who protested "Amos and Andy?" Are none of them permitted to express their disgust with the way they and their issues have been presented by someone seeking commercial gain from that presentation?

As a matter of fact, my analogy is only just getting going: the people protesting Ticked Off Trannies look every bit as ridiculous as the conservative Christians protesting Corpus Christi. Both groups are small but loud subcultures holding extreme views railing on and on about something which 1) they don't know much about, and 2) would probably pass by virtually unnoticed if they weren't making such a stink. Another parallel is that in both cases the work expresses explicit sympathy with the larger group (and in fact the artists consider themselves members) of which this subculture is a part -- Christians in the case of Corpus Christi, and transgender people in the case of Ticked Off Trannies.

If your aim is to raise awareness of how trans people are negatively depicted in popular media (which, god knows is true), find a better target. Your message is confusing because this film was made by one of us (I know all these microdistinctions within the LGBT world are very important and real to you, but they are not to most people) and this film is made in a self-conscious, ironic style which uses negative stereotypes to make a point with humor and satire.

Regardless of whether your grievances are valid, this squabble just looks like a lot of silly infighting. It's wasted indignation.

"the people protesting Ticked Off Trannies look every bit as ridiculous as the conservative Christians protesting Corpus Christi. Both groups are small but loud subcultures holding extreme views railing on and on about something which 1) they don't know much about, and 2) would probably pass by virtually unnoticed if they weren't making such a stink. "

1) No, I think there are actually a few differences (not that I think you'll listen to them). One is condemning gay men and their inclusion in anything biblical. The other are women who are (YES) trans.. the population the director claims the film is about. Your attempts at playing "queer trumps all" is pretty pathetic. Sorry, but you don't get to appropriate everyone's identity. Btw, what have i heard time and time again from the supporters of the film... we're not PC! Yup, that's right, the term right wingers love to bandy about. The term that means "Fuck your community I can say what I like."

Extreme views like "transwomen getting murdered might not be a subject for humor, camp and entertainment"? Those extreme views? Wow, radical concept.

2) I.DON'T.CARE. if it's noticed or not. Believe it not, gay men protesting "Cruising" in 1979 gave it quite a bit of free publicity, but they protested anyway because they needed to have their voices heard. Capiche? Why is that so hard for you to understand? Having our voices heard on the issue of how we're being depicted is more important that your definition of what's logical or successful.

3) "Your message is confusing because this film was made by one of us"
No, not us. You can say that till you're blue in the face, you'll continue to sound ignorant. Bi cissexual man does not equal trans woman. By that token, any straight man should be able to walk into gay organizations and take over... because there's more overlap between you and a straight man than there is between someone like Luna (or you) and a trans woman. And any white man should be able to claim he's black because there's a fine line and they share so much genetic material.
Silly and ignorant "privileged outsider knows best" argument.

4)"Regardless of whether your grievances are valid, this squabble just looks like a lot of silly infighting. It's wasted indignation."

Just like the "Cruising" protests in '79, the "9 Dead Gay Guys" protests in 2002 and the protests against "Basic Instinct". Silly like those? Or silly like black people protesting against Amos and Andy... silly like that?

Great gay daddy (who might just actually be trans but labels mean nothing except when it comes to things like ENDA, per capita rates of murder, job discrimination, access to health care), please tell your ignorant trans flock what we should do instead? Work harder for marriage equality? Go see more musicals? I know all about you just like you know all about us.

Brenda Jean Louise | April 7, 2010 12:03 PM

I have to agree with the rest. The film trailer did not leave a good impression with me. Nor do comedy films that put Trans folk in a bad light win my approval. What was originally presented to me, is that the film was to be some sort of docudrama that was to made to show the viewing public the hate that the Trans folk put up with. Actually, how does one get the non-TG population to even want to sit down and watch this movie? Surely not this way.

From what I've read here, it could have been written better and casted with more realistic people in the Transsexual community, because we are out there right in the brunt of all the Transphobia, hate and unemployment.

In viewing the trailer, I put this movie in the same league and I would a Jerry Springer show. That being said, the trailer was poorly done, and obviously never tested in front of a sample audience. If it were tested, the director would have learned valuable insite on how to go about making a film like this.

A couple of things:

1. I agree that no movie, and especially not a movie as controversial as this one, should be reviewed without seeing it first. That's why I didn't say anything about it publicly until I had seen the film and was ready to write my review.

2. I intentionally stayed away from the issue of censorship in writing the review because I felt that a fair review should stick to what appears on the screen, not on the political issues surrounding the film.

That said, however, I'll address the censorship issue here:

I'm not a big fan of censorship in general, regardless of the target of the moment. As we all should know, there are many places where the perspectives of LGBT's or transpeople specifically are simply not welcome, where we are are barred en masse from participating in the public discussion, often when the topic is the laws that impact our lives.

I'm sure many still remember the 2002 SONDA debacle in New York where the wealthy and elitist Empire State Pride Agenda and their political allies actually barred transgender people and our political allies such as gay State Senator and NY LGBT rights hero Tom Duane from even attending the strategy meetings for the bill.

That was true censorship. A group of wealthy white gay male elites decided that they just weren't interested in even hearing the arguments in favor of real equality and so they just excluded them from the entire discussion to protect their own narrow interests.

I don't advocate that this film be barred from being shown at Tribeca. What I do advocate is that people who are able to see this movie, particularly transpeople and allies, write and publish open and honest reviews of this movie and let the natural flow of media interest take it's course.

To that end, if Israel Luna really believes in his film I'd like to see him make the full film easily available to be reviewed (preferably online) by trans community members and allies, as well as everyone else. If he really believes (as William apparently does)that this film can only be fairly reviewed by seeing the full movie (with which I agree), let's see him make it available for review to anyone and everyone who wishes to do so. Personally, I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

In my opinion, this film is so awful that once the stir created by TOTWK's inclusion in the Tribeca Film Festival fades, so will the interest in this movie. There's no reason to call for censorship here because doing so gives this movie more credit as influential media than it deserves or can be reasonably expected to have. TOTWK is as notable as it is right now precisely because of all the controversy surrounding it. As that controversy fades, so will the interest in this piece of celluloid refuse.

Like Alex, I suspect the controversy over the film may well generate a great deal more interest than even the director had thought possible.

I'm with you on not censoring it; we come at the point differently, but I think we share something there. But I will add that it's more than a bit unfair to demand that Luna make his film widely available for free - even the most basic film projects take time and money, including paying for things like catering and actors.

Let's not compound this entire issue by demanding that an artist essentially give away his product for free because of a swirl of ideological concerns. Yes, I'm aware that some here will scoff at the term "artist," but let's not get into the complexities of that - for now, let's remember that he's a filmmaker and has a right to expect to get paid for his work.

The fact that some disagree with his film without having seen it is no reason or rationale for him to show it to them free.

A better solution, one that encourages honest dialogue while respecting his rights as a filmmaker and a worker (yes, artists are workers): pay for screenings in local communities. Pay for panel presentations by solid, reputable critics and people who have a knowledge of the genre in question here along with community members representing more than one side of the trans community. That's more work than most of the protestors of this film have been willing to do so far and it's much harder than lobbing invectives and half-hashed surmises from the safety of anonymity on websites, but it leads to a much more informed and, dare I say, intelligent discussion.

I've said this before and I'll repeat myself here: The current relative accessibility of digital filmmaking and the ubiquity of avenues like youtube have persuaded people that nothing could be simpler than making a people and that distributing it on youtube is a simple solution. It's not. Even the cheapest film production (and I have friends who've made those) cost money. And youtube is not a distribution centre.

Frankly Yasmin, as someone who's been giving her art away for years in the hopes of getting some paying work I have little sympathy for the chance that Israel Luna might not get paid for his. The reality of modern media is that if you want professional recognition for your independent (i.e. non-corporate-sponsored/funded) media creations and eventual paid employment creating your art, you'd better be prepared to give a lot of it away first to earn a reputation that can lead to paying work.

There's also no reason why the film has to be made available for free. Many independent filmmakers distribute their work on I-Tunes and similar services, charging usually a few dollars to download and view a film. If Luna wants to make his film available for review to everyone there are many ways to accomplish that goal and no shortage of ways to charge a fee for doing so.

Again, I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.


Yes, I'm aware that's the reality, and it's not a good one, and it needs to change. I'll just post my shameless plug here since I've actually written on this very subject (along with the related matter of "social justice" for art):

I assumed you meant that the film should be given away for free. I still don't think Luna's in any way obliged to even provide cheap downloads of his film. It's not an unknown entity, and he has every right to expect that people who want to discuss it should pay for it - either by arranging for screenings or by showing up at movie halls. There are lots of films I haven't particularly wanted to see - Passion of Christ or Katherine Hepburn's Dragon Seed come to mind. But if pressed for a discussion, I'd pay to see both and not expect either Mel Gibson or the estate of Hepburn to reimburse me or show me the film at a vast discount. What you're suggesting is that Luna should pay for the arrogant and censorious people who've already dismissed his film without seeing it and taken pride in remaining ignorant about the film.

The initial protestors who called for outright censorship ought to have tackled things differently from the start. Making assumptions about someone's work and deciding it ought never to see the light of day without ever having seen the film puts them on exactly the same side as those Christian fundamentalists who would ban Corpus Christi without seeing it (and let me be clear: I don't advocate for any film to be yanked from distribution because it causes some to take offense).

We wouldn't want those behind Corpus Christi to easily capitulate to rabid right-wingers by offering them cut-rate performances, so why do we expect Luna to do the same?

So I wouldn't hold my breath on that either, but for rather different reasons.

Luna may not be obliged to offer the film at an affordable price, but I think if he really believes in his film he should be doing everything he can to increase its distribution and the number of viewers who can see it, don't you?

When I published this review, for example, it doesn't just appear here, but also on my personal blog, on TransGroupBlog, and it's also running at the Velvet Park website. I do my best to put my work in front of as many eyes as possible because you never know who's reading.

All that said, I do what I do because I love doing it, and I'll keep doing it whether I draw a paycheck for it eventually or not. At the same time, however, I know that I could do so much more if I had the ability to devote myself to this work full-time with the resources a professional media company could provide.

And so, I'll keep hoping I can score a job like that and keep doing my best to continue turning out quality work until it happens for me. In my experience, that's the way it works.

I don't know how many movies Luna has made, but my first Internet radio show in 2002, Trans-Sister Radio, which I co-hosted with Marti Abernathey, was pretty bad. Our technical issues were legion and neither one of us really had a clue how to create a radio show and put it on the air...and it showed, a lot.

Over time, I learned, and I got better. So did Marti. As I got more experience, I improved as a host and as a writer. It's taken me years to get to this point, and maybe it'll take Israel Luna some more years before he puts out something better than TOTWK.

In all that time though, while I have sold some freelance print articles, I've never made a dime on any of my radio shows. I keep doing it because I love it, but also because I'd also love to be able to do it professionally, and that's how you get yourself and your work out there.

So no, I really don't have a lot of sympathy for Israel Luna. Modern media is a cutthroat business and decidedly unfair. Crap often gets the red carpet while quality work often goes unheralded and ignored. That's the nature of the modern media business, and particularly the independent media business. I knew it going in and so did he.

If Israel Luna wants his work to be seen and judged there are many viable avenues to make that happen. The viewing public can and will judge if his work is gold or garbage. Making it accessible, though, is entirely up to him.

"Luna may not be obliged to offer the film at an affordable price, but I think if he really believes in his film he should be doing everything he can to increase its distribution and the number of viewers who can see it, don't you?"

I think he's managed to accomplish both goals by now. He may not want show his film to a bunch of highly disgruntled people who couldn't be bothered to see the film before judging it - and who have made it clear that they have some fairly rigid ideas about gender conformity. That does not indicate that he does not "believe" in his film. A filmmaker's belief in his film is not supposed to be shown by his capitulating to the worst instincts in a group that does not even represent his audience (something he's probably learnt the hard way).

As for making it accessible: So far, he's been doing all the right things, clearly. Getting a film shown at Tribeca in NYC is no small feat, and requires, I would imagine, some combination of networking and film world savvy. I don't think he needs advice from any of us on that.

As someone who is in fact a professional writer and makes her living entirely by writing, I don't draw easy parallels between all forms of artistic/creative production. I'm also profoundly aware of the vast differences between movie-making and writing. For one thing, one uses somewhat more expensive tools and resources than the other. Writing is hard work, as is radio, but neither you nor I have to juggle as many different elements as any film director. That's not to value film over writing or radio, but to point out that we can't just lump everything under "media" as if everything is produced the same way.

As for "Modern media is a cutthroat business and decidedly unfair" and the bit before that - I think we're veering away from the main topic here and getting into something that's a personal issue for you. I'll leave with this: I have no doubt Luna and his friends are perfectly aware of that, especially given the cutthroat nature of the calls to have his film censored.

Have a great night.

He may not want show his film to a bunch of highly disgruntled people who couldn't be bothered to see the film before judging it - and who have made it clear that they have some fairly rigid ideas about gender conformity.

So trailers are supposed to be sufficient to draw people in, but in order to prove you truly find it objectionable, you're required to watch it all the way through? The trailer and title had sufficient material for quite a few people to find it objectionable. Do you think that the rest of the film would somehow redeem it? Rebecca's review - after she'd seen the film - says otherwise.

Also, you're painting with a pretty broad brush there on both counts. Do you think that GLAAD's attempt at criticism represents what trans people in general think about the film?

"The trailer and title had sufficient material for quite a few people to find it objectionable."

And a good number of people, including people who actually worked on and in the film, did not find it objectionable. As opposed to those who didn't see the entire film.

And if you're going to go by reviews, Alexandra Billings actually saw the film and was fine with it. Curious that protestors had little to nothing to say about a review by a transwoman who actually saw the film.

You can read the review here:

So: the testimony of trans actors and crew was not enough. The review (a very interesting one, and worth reading, btw) by a transwoman was not enough. Changing the trailer was not enough.

As I understand, there really is nothing that Luna could or can do to satisfy the irate.

I think Steven put it best in a comment above, so I'll just reproduce the relevant bit here:

"If your aim is to raise awareness of how trans people are negatively depicted in popular media (which, god knows is true), find a better target. Your message is confusing because this film was made by one of us (I know all these microdistinctions within the LGBT world are very important and real to you, but they are not to most people) and this film is made in a self-conscious, ironic style which uses negative stereotypes to make a point with humor and satire.

Regardless of whether your grievances are valid, this squabble just looks like a lot of silly infighting. It's wasted indignation."

I'm not the one holding on to any broad brushes here. This entire "campaign" has been like watching someone shoot an innocent pigeon with an AK-47. And that's a really sad image, given how much I like pigeons and hate AK-47s.

Seriously: if you really want to take on truly damaging representations, consider daytime or evening tv. Consider those horrendous "find the dude among the ladies" ad, which incite horror, disgust and violence among audiences.

Am I telling you what fights to pick?

Why, yes, I believe I am.

See above point about pigeons and AK-47s.

Actually, see all points above, including the one where I provided links to all the previous conversations.

And now, pardon me, but I really must leave - breaking story to cover here. And this is getting repetitious.

So it comes down to picking and choosing which trans women to believe, and lecturing trans women who don't agree with the trans women who liked it?

We Are Not A Fucking Monolith.

And it's not an "either/or" where you only get to take on damaging portrayals by cis gay men or you get to take on damaging portrayals by straight society. It is possible to object to damaging portrayals by everyone.

Why is it necessary to tell anyone protesting this film what their agenda should be? Is this the kind of behavior you'd accept from straight people? When they say "You're wasting your time, you should focus on important issues, which are - by coincidence - the issues I happen to agree with. Besides there are many other people in your community who disagree with you!"

I'm not telling anyone else what to think about the film, but I am tired of reading that my own reactions are invalid because I haven't passed someone else's litmus test for having a valid reaction.

Sigh. File under, "Irony, Loss Thereof."

One last time, Lisa.

This isn't about believing one trans person over another.

a) if reviews are to be the criteria, if testimonies from trans people are to be the criteria - well, what's a gal/much of society to do? We're being asked to pick specific criteria by which to approve/disapprove the film or at least by which to consider the controversies it generates (I say "we" with caution - I wouldn't have called for censorship regardless). Well, so far, it's all pretty much 50-50 isn't it (if we are to quantify the presence/absence of trans people; positive/negative reviews)? What you're really saying is: "You need to agree with MY PART of the community!"

In case it isn't clear, I wouldn't care what people/reviewers thought of the film - there were bigger issues for me.

b) The big issue for a lot of us was: Don't censor a film without even seeing it.

c) The even bigger issue for us: Don't censor. Period. Have informed opinions. Discuss. If you don't like the idea/trailer of a film but don't want to watch it, tell us why. Don't watch it.

d) I'm done with having my words twisted.

e) Pigeon. AK-47.

p.s Watching a film is probably the most necessary litmus test to pass before one decides to censor it. But it *is* perfectly legitimate to not watch a film based on a trailer or a review or an irritation with a certain actor/director (Saw 2, 3, 4, etc. and anything with Renée Zellweger come to mind). Not watching it is one thing. Telling others they can't and mustn't watch it is quite another (and anyone who wants to whitewash the history of this whole campaign by now insisting that censorship was never the main thrust should just follow the links in my first comment to refresh their memory).

Without such criteria, we are nothing but...a clichéd reference to the Nazis (which others have not hesitated to hurl at me in these threads) comes to mind here , but I shall resist. Let's just say we are what we are today.

Seriously, people, 'Night.

To Renée Zellweger fans: No, I'm not going there.

Well, I'll certainly take your advice under consideration when I start calling for the film to be censored.

I think it's interesting how Alexandra BIllings' review is brought up as though she actually said much in that piece.

She stated she hates the word 'trannies' but then tells a story which suggests the director might know have known it's offensive. (which is absurd, he participated in an Dallas Voice Blog thread in 1/09 which discussed this very issue and he basically blew off the concerns of the trans women participating in the thread).

She mentioned some other bizarre little part where there's adam and eve and we're neither (which I suspect is the part Yasmin is grooving on because she wants all trans people to identify as queer or third gender no matter how they actually experience themselves). She then says, in the comments section, like it or not, trans women aren't women... and don't try to say otherwise. Thanks a lot, Alexandra. So, Yasmin, how come you're not ragging on her for speaking for all women who are trans?

Her review didn't really address any of the concerns we've had about the clips, rape humor, the comedic elements in some of the violent sections. For someone who's a professional actress, it's not a terribly thoughtful review (and I don't say that because she's 'on the other side'). I've discussed this film with a number of people who saw the Dallas screening. Some said "it's a serious discussion of transphobic violence," I've had other people (including participants in the film) tell me it's a silly comedy. Sorry, but those two don't fit together... serious discussion of transphobic violence and silly comedy.

As to the performers... big deal if they think it's okay. There are lots of trans performers in tranny porn who think it's fine (and I'm not saying it isn't, just definitely objectifying). There are trans performers who've appeared in highly problematic trans portrayals on tv and apologized for that (cough, Candis Cayne, cough). Stepin' Fetchit made lots of money playing "coon" roles in films and defended himself even though there were many black people who thought he was a sellout. Linda Lovelace defended her participation in Deep Throat only to come out 10-12 years later and state she was brutalized and forced to appear in the film. In the two online interviews with Krystal and Erica, two of the transwomen who appear in the film, they both seem rather upset when asked about their experience (and granted, Krystal has since sounded more positive about it).

Again, I believe you're making it sound as if all people protesting the film want it dumped from the festival which, in fact, is NOT the truth. Just because GLAAD (an organization which usually puts trans people fairly low on its list) asked for that doesn't mean they're speaking for the rest of the trans people involved in the protest. And I'm tired of people trying to characterize dumping a scheduled film from a private festival as a worse act of "censorship" than turning down films from the get go. Moreover, it's pretty clear to me the festival would not have scheduled a film called "Killer Spicks" because of the backlash by communities they actually listen to, unlike ours, which they don't.

mistake: might know have known it's offensive.

correction: might NOT have known it's offensive.

"In all that time though, while I have sold some freelance print articles, I've never made a dime on any of my radio shows. I keep doing it because I love it, but also because I'd also love to be able to do it professionally, and that's how you get yourself and your work out there."

The cost of writing an article or making a radio show is next to nothing. The cost of making even a very low-budget feature film can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's crazy to suggest that a film producer offer the film for free or at low cost just to get it out there. The way you get a film out there is by screening it in festivals, if you're very lucky. By the time you have completed a feature film, you are up to your neck in debt and obligations to the people who loaned or gave you money, to the people who worked for deferred payments. You need to sell the film to a distributor and sell it for a hefty sum if you ever hope to recoup the investment, let alone make some money.

A premiere in the Tribeca Film Festival is a career-making opportunity, for the film and everyone involved in it.

The campaign against this film is revolting -- the willful ignorance, the deep suspicion of artists and art-making. Takes me right back to the 80s and Jesse Helms and the NEA 4.

But the most egregious thing about this protest is the absolute incoherence of the message. From what I gather, here are the big objections to this film:

1) the word Tranny is pejorative. My guess is that it's a small subset of GLBT people who are insulted by that word. Most find it pretty neutral. And the wider audience, the people who don't bring a political agenda to their entertainment experience, is just going "huh?"

2) the film depicts stereotypes of transgender people. I haven't seen the film, but the trailer and marketing present it as a broad, campy comedy in the style of exploitation films of the 70s. It's not a documentary about trans women, it's not social realism, it's a campy comedy. Stereotypes are integral to the style. I don't think the filmmaker is trying to say that this is what a typical trans woman is like, and I doubt the average moviegoer is going to leave the theater thinking this is a sober, balanced depiction of the lives of trans women. Most moviegoers probably understand camp and irony better than the protesters.

3) some of the people involved in the film, including the director and some of the performers, are not trans women as very narrowly defined by the protesters. I find this criticism ridiculous. Artists are only allowed to tell stories about people exactly like themselves? Please.

It's true that you can write from almost anywhere (though I would argue that it depends mainly on what you are writing about). On the other hand, if you really think that getting a radio show on the air costs next to nothing then it's quite clear that you haven't got a clue.

Right now, the basic radio setup I have involves about $2500 worth of equipment, including mic, mixing board and computer. When my new hardware arrives that'll bring the total to probably just over three grand. Of course, that's not even counting streaming, archiving, website fees, phones, etc. Next to nothing, my ass.

You say you haven't seen the film, but yet somehow you feel qualified to review it. If you had actually seen it as I have, you'd know that your perception is wrong mainly because the goriest, most violent scenes, which are not in the trailer, completely chill whatever humor value there might otherwise have been there. Hate crimes just aren't funny in any context.

Thanks for running the numbers to prove my point. Yes, $3000 is a chunk of money, but next to the several hundred thousand or more that it costs to make a low-budget feature film, $3000 is a very small investment. Like I've said several times here, producers of even low budget films end up with significant financial obligations which limit their distribution options.

No, I have not seen this film, and I did not review it. I commented on the marketing of the film and the response to it. Please don't pretend that you can't tell the difference. It's annoying. This is not a high school debate class.

Your statement that hate crimes cannot be funny in any context neatly sums up your prejudice and makes you unreliable as a critic. I don't have any problem with you holding this view, but if you're going to pass yourself off as a film critic you should know that there's a long and revered history of satire and comedy in literature and film used to comment on atrocity of all types. Some of the best comedy is funny because the underlying subject matter is so unsettling. Just an example off the top of my head: Catch-22, one of the classics of American literature, horrific and very very funny.

So keep your restrictions off my art.

Right after you take your transphobia out of my media. It works both ways.


"1) the word Tranny is pejorative. My guess is that it's a small subset of GLBT people who are insulted by that word."

I would imagine that subset is mostly comprised of trans women, the people who are labelled trannies. It's funny, a majority of people in the south didn't find the word "nigger" objectionable either... in fact, they viewed it as an entirely neutral term as well. Interesting how that works.

2) When creating campy comedies about certain subjects, it's good to have some distance from those subjects. For instance, "Springtime for Hitler in the Producers (directed by a jew)... 40 years after the fact. TOTWK... well, let's see three murders of trans women that I know of just this last week. One in Queens, NY, one beheaded in Mexico and one dismembered in Indonesia. See, I agree that someday, there might be a "campy comedy" about Rwanda... (hopefully made by someone from that country) but let's wait a few years before laughing at something which is still triggering for the people involved.

3) If you're going to make a film about a currently controversial subject (transphobic violence), give it a name you absolutely know is not going to go down well with many members of the community being discussed and you're going to incorporate rape humor, silliness and jokes... yeah, you better be a member of that community. And funny, even Luna agreed with that. In the Dallas Voice blog where he first mentioned the title, he said said (about a film which might be objectionable to African-Americans) "GlindaG mentions “Ticked-Off Niggers with Knives.” Well, if a black man were to write/direct it and call it “Ticked-Off Niggas With Knives” I’d SO watch it."

So why did LUNA mention that "if it a black man were to write/direct it"? Later in the thread someone takes him to task for suggesting that film would be okay if A BLACK MAN made it but he, NOT being a trans person (much less a trans woman) gets to make a film which is offensive to many in that community. He never answered.

Btw, Catch 22 is an absurd example to bring up. It was over 25 years after WWII, Joseph Heller was a soldier in the regiment he describes in the book and it didn't "satirize" sexual assault or make it into entertainment. Awful analogy.

" it's much harder than lobbing invectives and half-hashed surmises from the safety of anonymity on websites, but it leads to a much more informed and, dare I say, intelligent discussion."

AFAIK, none of the main people behind this protest are anonymous. I know my blog has both my name, picture and email listed on it and all the people behind the FB Protest page all list their names and show their pics.

Since we're incapable of nothing better than invectives and half-hashed surmises (?) perhaps you should represent us at those panels you're talking about, since we're clearly incapable of speaking for ourselves. I want to thank you in advance for speaking for our community.

Kathy Padilla | April 8, 2010 12:05 PM

Trans women who commented on this article:

Joanna Sue Morse
Dr. Jillian T. Weiss
Lisa Harney
Rebecca Juro
Kathy Padilla
GinaSF (whose name is available on her web site, pic & email – didn’t go look for times sake)
Dana Lane
Austen Crowder
Brenda Jean Lousie

Semi or Anonymous Posters

Brenda Jean Lousie

I’ve read Brenda’s post – it doesn’t seem invective filled. Nor could one call her in anything but a small minority in terms of her possible anonymity.

I guess it’s hoped that if you repeat something often enough – it will be perceived as true. Or possibly that who is speaking effects the assessment of the content and value of their statements.


I don't know if it's the case that you cannot grasp people's words or that you simply refuse to. But, I'm sure it's clear that I'm referring to the several anonymous protestors during the entire controversy, not this post.

But you will, no doubt, continue with the mode of attack you've perfected here and on all the other threads where you've popped up in your failed attempts to bully me and others into submission. It consists of: "Prove yourself right! Oh, yeah, you just did? Okay, then prove yourself wrong! No, wait, I meant, prove me right! Wait, no, I forgot what I meant! Just...just...say something! Huh, huh, huh, can you say something now? Huh, huh, huh?"

Good day, Kathy. There are actually horrible things happening to queer people everywhere and the reasons why are sometimes very simple, like pure hatred, and other times more complex. These comment threads are not where change is going to happen. This whole "campaign" to censor TOTWK? Shooting a pigeon with an AK-47.

Happy bean counting. Next up: how many times have I used that analogy? Three, I believe.

Kathy Padilla | April 8, 2010 2:06 PM

You were invited to suggest real topics in the real lives of trans women that you wanted to discuss - you suggested none. But you continued to be perhaps the most prolific poster on a subject you deem unworthy of attention. Then complain over others who find it worthy of discussion of speaking to the subject.

Who's swatting what again? And who isn't capable of listening?

Beans? More fun to count how many times you said you were leaving the conversation.

Kathy Padilla | April 8, 2010 2:58 PM

Right – onto those issues of more importance then.

Some more bean counting:

Bilerico posts since this review that covered real life transgender issues or censorship/GLAAD issues:

"A preview of ENDA opposition"

"Trans woman decapitated in Mexico"

"An Open Letter to Kyra Phillips at CNN"

"Why Freedom of Speech has to be absolute"

"A Prom and Pretty (Ugly) Things"

"Is homosexuality a problem in need of a cure?"

Comments on those topics of more importance by Yazmin? ZERO. Not a single one.

Yeah – I know who’s obsessing here. And whom they’re obsessing over.

Cathy, just a correction, every time I hear Yasmin or Steven open their entitled mouths on this issue, I DO feel a need for invective. Kindly leave me out of your list of reasonable trans women! :-)

Gina Morvay

I haven't reviewed this, just pointed out I've seen enough of it to know I don't want to see it.

Given that this film probably isn't going to be widely screened, and who knows how accessible it will be as a rental or purchase, this can effectively cut a lot of people out of the conversation simply for not being anywhere near where it's being aired.

I do think trans people do have a stake in situations like this, having seen the movie or not, I think it's fair to have an opinion about people who are not trans trying to make themselves into trans voices while simultaneously rejecting trans voices and using anti-trans slurs to promote their work.

Also: Directors need to stop casting cis men as trans women.

Whether it's going to be screened or not isn't the point. The way low budget films are distributed these days, it will be on DVD, On Demand or through some other Internet channels. Which also means it's likely to be seen by a far wider (and younger, straighter) audience than is being assumed. My guess is, ultimately, the widest audience for this film will be teenagers, who are the biggest market for trash gore films.

This is NOT a film I want intolerant teenage boys to see both in terms of the sexualization/objectification of the characters (especially the ones played by trans women Krystal Summers and Erica Andrews) and how attacking the 'attractive' characters is both a turn-on and generator of excitement for many teens.

People are assuming because it's a "camp" film it will mostly be seen by gay audiences and I think that's dead wrong.

Given the more current subject of the CNN report, allow me, for a moment, to make the parallel for those who still don't understand what has trans folk so upset.

Every single one of the comments -- all the arguments that have been made here -- can all be applied to the CNN segment asking if homosexuality should be cured.

And if ya don't believe, try me.

I'll try!

I'm not the one holding on to any broad brushes here. This entire "campaign" has been like watching someone shoot an innocent pigeon with an AK-47. And that's a really sad image, given how much I like pigeons and hate AK-47s.

GLAAD vs. CNN...


Yep, that's been said about the film as well -- not the same terms, but really the same sentiment.

For more clarity:

This whole "campaign" to censor CNN? Shooting a pigeon with an AK-47.

And yet the way out of that point is to recognize that the film (and the TV segment) are not being censored.

They are being censured.

And the reason for the censure is that they both start with a title that is offensive, and then deal with a subject and present it in a manner that is offensive.

So people are upset about it. People are criticizing the media segment for representing the named group in a piss poor manner.

And privilege -- cis privilege, in particular -- is on display when the same people calling the reaction to Luna's film censorship are NOT doing the same thing over the CNN piece.

Both are censorship given the arguments for it being such. And then, for S's & G's, lets add in the issue surrounding the play, where a group of people who are offended by the play's title (being a commentary on a religious icon) are complaining because the content of the film upsets them.

To stand up for *one* of them means you have to stand up for all of them.

Anything less is hypocritical.

This is why not everything is censorship. By the standards being invoked here, what happened to Ron Gold was censorship.

Do any of you feel the same way there?

I have called it censure, and been told that I need to agree to disagree.

Well, fine, I still call all of it censure, and I'll add that the play was actually censored (since it is being blocked from being shown elsewhere), but the the other two are not.

But if some are going to call censure censorship, and claim absolutist universalism, then they need to do that now, in the other threads on those stories, as well.

And they need to do it all the time in the future -- even when they, personally, are the subject.

Conflation of censure -- public reprimand and punishment -- with censorship (the denial of expression) is damaging and dangerous.

You don't get to pick and choose.

Kathy Padilla | April 9, 2010 10:00 AM

I don't know - but Bilerico may be guilty of copywright infringement by using the poster images here. At least that's what some Luna says.

Damn -if only we thought to sue him instead of criticizing his work.

Don't worry too much about La Luna Entertainment suing you, since they haven't paid their corporate taxes in the state of Texas for several years and are no longer a legally recognized entity.

Krystal Summers | April 12, 2010 8:11 PM

Just a personal name is Krystal and i play the lead role of Bubbles in the film. You go on and on about how this is an inaccurate representation of trans women and refer to us as drag queens throughout your article. I, however, am in fact a real life transgender woman, and I am playing a trans woman in this film and you are no better than what you are talking about when you repeatedly refer to me and the others as drag queens. This film doesnt claim to accurately represent ALL trans women, but it does in fact accurately represent SOME trans women. I work as a professional drag entertainer and i didnt realize that working in that profession somehow made me less trans than you or any of the other girls complaining about our film. This movie is just that.....a movie...a revenge fantasy....and there are REAL trans women in it!!!

You're right about this - lots of trans women do drag, and I admit that I learned a lot from drag queens (and I don't know how many, if any, were trans) awhile ago.

I didn't want to question the transness of the actresses involved (and if I did, I'm sorry), but I still find the film itself (at least the parts in the trailer) to be problematic.

Krystal, for me the issue is not about how you identify off-camera, but how rather your character and the others in the movie do. Since there is a line of dialog in the movie itself defining the main characters as "gay men in dresses" as well as a multitude of other relevant cues, I felt it was fair to define those characters as drag queens.

Just as no one thinks Neal Patrick Harris is any less gay because he plays a straight character on television, I would argue that your off-camera identity is equally irrelevant to the on-camera characters you portray.

Hello Krystal

A transsexual woman was walking her dog yesterday, and was beaten up, and then the taunt "Hey trannyboy where is your knife" was heard. Now I don't blame you for this, you are an actress in the film that was referenced that's all. But it was not you who was walking the dog.

It was someone who probably didn't even have anything to say about the film for or against. I think Mr Luna's film has backfired, and the sooner he simply admits to this fact the better.

I think this is the real problem, not you or your status. No the problem is Mr Luna failed to see the consequences of his actions.

Sophia, do you have a link or more information about this incident? I'd like to know more.

As the founder of GID Reform Advocates, I have worked for many years to refute defamatory stereotypes of mental illness that are inflicted upon trans and gender variant people. Trans women and men lose their jobs, homes, families, children, civil liberties, human dignity and physical safety as a consequence of these false stereotypes. Mr. Luna's depiction of transgender and transsexual women as mad, vengeful killers wielding blood drenched knives sends the most harmful message possible to employers, colleagues, neighbors, families and children of people who are denied fundamental civil rights in most states. Good people and loving families will suffer because of the way they are caricatured in this film, its title and its promotion materials

Here's a review that came out in the NY Times this morning as the film opens in Manhattan (10/15/10)