Girls Like Us On Film

For those of you who are interested, here are some interesting video clips of trans people.

First up is Laura Kate Dale, a very impressive young trans journalist. She has coped very well with an awful lot of unpleasant public drama this year, and has recently hit the big time with this article in The Guardian about how playing online role-playing games helped her come to terms with her gender. This led to her being interviewed on Fusion TV.

Contrast that with Janet Mock doing some promo videos for her fabulous book, Redefining Realness.

There are a couple of things worth noting here. (Yeah, teaching moments again. So sue me.) The first is about disclosure. Laura talks about how hard it was coming out to her fellow gamers about being trans, and about accusations that she had been “lying” to them about who she was. And yet, as Janet says in one of her films, trans people are afraid to be public about their identities, because they are afraid that no one will love them if they do. That’s a very real and justifiable fear.

“Loving a trans person is a revolutionary act” — Laverne Cox, Creating Change 2014 Keynote Address (streamed here, starting about 53 minutes in).

Notice also how much more confident Janet is in her identity than Laura. That will come for Laura, in time. Janet just went through the learning stage earlier. As she explains in her book, she was able to start experimenting with her gender very young. And thanks to the mahu culture in Hawaii she was able to do much of her experimenting in real life as she went through high school. Laura had to do that in a virtual gaming environment.

By the way, I did a very similar sort of thing. There were no online RPGs in my day, but we did have tabletop games. By GMing a lot, I was able to play lots of non-player characters, many of whom were female. It was a perfect excuse.

The point I’m trying to make here is that while many trans people (definitely Janet and myself, I don’t know Laura well enough to say) know that something is wrong from a very early age, knowing what to do about it is a very different matter. Most of us didn’t get to experiment (though things are changing now for very young kids). So you grow up in a world in which you think you ought to be a girl, but you never have a chance to be a girl. In the meantime all of the messages you are getting from society are that you are crazy, that you will destroy your life if you try to act on your impulses, that no one will love you if you tell the truth.

Once, however, you get the chance to experiment, all will become clear. Some people, of course, will turn back, and if that is right for them that’s a good thing. But for others it will be a magical experience, and absolute proof that what they feel inside is real and true.

2 thoughts on “Girls Like Us On Film

  1. And thanks to the mahu culture in Hawaii

    I forgot to mention after reading your splendid review of Janet Mock’s autobiography that here in the South Pacific we have a similar cultural aspect. Samoans recognise a gender called fa’afafine (literally “in the manner of a woman”). Fa’afafine are generally born biologically male and have both feminine and masculine gender traits; there is no opprobrium directed at them in Samoan society, and indeed they are highly respected. Because Auckland has a large Samoan population we have many fa’afafine living here. There is a fa’afafine character, Brother Ken (a school principal) in the New Zealand animated series bro’Town (can be seen on YouTube) who appears in every episode.

    1. Yeah, most Polynesian cultures have space in them for trans people. The Samoans are well known for it (rather better known than the Hawaiians, even in the US). For that matter, most cultures in the Indian sub-continent do, as does Thailand, of course. A lot of the problem appears to be with monotheistic cultures where God is defined as male, not female, though having said that Pakistan manages pretty well despite having that sort of religion. If I were a lot younger I’d love to do a sociology/theology degree and study this.

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