Disclosure (2020)


What better pairing with this important documentary than to get a scoop from Big Gay Ice Cream shop, a New York City-based company that started with an ice cream truck and now operates 4 storefronts in the city and one in Philadelphia.

Image from: sideways.nyc

LGTBQ Film Series #7:

Disclosure” (2020), directed by Sam Feder, takes a deep dive down the history of trans representation in cinema. This in-depth look at Hollywood’s depiction of trans people and the impact it had on transgender lives and culture at large.

With interviews from Laverne Cox, Bianca Leigh, Jen Richards, Alexandra Billings, Susan Stryker and more, audiences are given a better understanding of the negative impact the portrayal of transgender people is on the community. When taking a look at films featuring trans people throughout history, they were shown as the butt of jokes, or murderers, or just unacceptable, which has had a detrimental effect on how cis people treat the trans community and how trans people see themselves. Further, when there was ever a compassionate trans story on screen, it was often tragic and triggering, provoking in younger trans viewers fear of a world that hates them.

“Disclosure” also fleshes out the fact that when trans people are played by cis actors, it reinforces the idea that trans people are not real, that they are simply playing dress up. Even some of the most beloved trans characters, like Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013), were problematic when she was played by Jared Leto and when her story ended in destruction and the straight bigoted character became the hero. The film allows for some debate in the choice for cis actors to play trans characters, though, and some interviewees praised the aforementioned “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Danish Girl” (2015), and “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999).

The documentary takes a look at a shockingly anti-trans scene in the popular film “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994) when a woman is exposed as being trans, and everyone in the room begins to projectile vomit out of sheer disgust. It is brutal and horrifying, but went largely unnoticed and was therefore seen as acceptable by cis audiences at the time.

However, there are some positive cinematic moments that were recognized for helping young trans people see themselves and learn to understand their own identity better, including “Ma Vie En Rose” (1997), “The Queen” (1968), and “Women in Revolt” (1971), and the more recent “Orange is the New Black” (2013-2019) and “Pose” (2018-present). The overall attitude from those being interviewed in “Disclosure” was optimistic about the positive changes they are seeing with trans representation in film and the cultural shift that has happened in the past decade.

“Disclosure” is a must-see documentary, which can be streamed on Netflix, that is as entertaining as it is informative.

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