I remember the first time I watched Boy's Don't Cry (1999); a beautiful love story and heartbreaking tale of a transgender male. For many, including myself, the movie served as the first real exposure to the violence and bigotry faced by the trans community. It wasn't that we weren't all aware that transphobia existed - for some reason I think we require Hollywood magic to make us really relate and feel it.
The director of the film, Kimberly Peirce, recently appeared for a question/answer session at Reed College following a screening of the movie. Her reception was shocking.
"The students hurled a litany of insults at Peirce, putting up posters that read 'fuck your transphobia' and 'you don't fucking get it' among other things. Worse, when Peirce ascended to her podium, students had placed a sign there. It read 'fuck this cis white bitch.'"
When I first read this my immediate reaction was, "the far right strikes again." My own bias is showing. This was not a crowd angered by the trans community. Instead, the crowd was protesting the casting of a woman, Hillary Swank, in the role of the transgendered male lead.
I'm sorry but this level of harassment is unacceptable. And yes, I'm calling it harassment. While I wasn't there, that's my take away from the report of the event. When did we all become so hateful? I can empathize with the anger and frustration of voices that are oppressed but when has anger ever moved us forward?
When voices are raised, few listen. It's when words are spoken softly, with care and love that people lean in.
"Students were also incensed at the idea of Peirce having profited from violence against trans people..."
I'd love to hear more thoughts on this. Is there a case for exploitation? Personally, I think not. Movies like Boys Don't Cry give a voice, even if it doesn't speak for ALL (as it apparently didn't ring true for the protesters at Reed) minority populations. One voice being heard is at least the start of a conversation. It's hard to begin a discussion when there's nothing but silence. Personally I feel Peirce deserves a lot of credit for her bravery in bringing up a difficult topic.
Let's keep talking.