It doesn’t take a media critic to know that film and television have long mistreated and misunderstood the transgender community. Whether painting trans people as something to be reviled and shamed (think Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), as villainous monsters (remember Buffalo Bill?), or using their identities as plot twists (we’re talking to you The Crying Game), Hollywood has continued to perpetuate dangerous and offensive stereotypes. And when a film or series does finally tell an authentic trans narrative, those characters have historically been played by cisgender1 actors – from Chris Sarandon in Dog Day Afternoon (who got the part over trans actor Elizabeth Coffey Williams, who was told she didn’t look “trans enough”) to Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl. As Hollywood history shows, most of the time those actors end up earning Oscar nominations and wins for their performances of trans people.
June is a month of victory for the LGBTQ community. It’s the one time of the year lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, and all other spectrums of queer sexualities and gender identities come together to honor the queer heroes who rioted, fought, and persevered before us. It’s a time of joy, of marching in parades, dancing in queer nightclubs and seeking comfort, safety, and acceptance as an LGBTQ person. But this year that sacred month of celebration was tarnished by the largest hate crime the LGBTQ community has ever faced.