Sunday, January 10, 2016

Trans Tropes We Need To Retire Not Only In 2016, But Ever Onward

This title and this post was inspired by a BuzzFeed article written by BuzzFeed news reporter, Meredith Talsusan, that I absolutely loved. This article was on point about everything. It's about time we're having this discussion on why these trans tropes aren't only counterproductive, but so tired.

I concur with all the points made, they are all pretty disgusting really, but I feel especially strong about:

#3 - Casting cis actor to play lead trans role while casting trans actor to play a wee-small role. 

It's not enough just to hire trans people in a small role that nobody even cares about while the cis actor is the one that plays the trans person in a bigger role. There are so many talented trans actors and actresses that can't get hired in cis roles, but not in trans roles either, but when they do, it's only a small cameo? It's just not right.

And to make more clear: I'm not saying cis people can't or shouldn't play trans roles. That doesn't bother me as much. Many trans people feel very strongly about that though, but I have more issue with seeing trans people struggling to find work. Cis roles or trans roles, I want to see more trans actors being hired in general, as equally and regularly as cis actors.

#4 - Having it where a trans person's life mission is for a cis person to fall in love with them. 

I never understood this one. While movies like Tangerine for instance are otherwise AMAZING (it's one of my favorites!), the plot is about a trans woman chasing after her cis lover with the desperate hope that he still loves her. Most trans romances are latched onto that trope, and that saddens me.

Trans lives don't hinge on our gender identity nor does it hinge on wanting/needing a cis person to fall in love with us. I'd love to see more stories of trans people falling in love with each other!

#8 - All love for trans women, no love for the trans men, and no visibility for the gender non-conforming/non-binary trans people of the world. 

Now don't get me wrong about this one: I'm happy for all the trans visibility of trans women, but what about the trans men? And what about trans people like me who do NOT want to be cis-normative, who are non-conforming and non-binary? There's more to trans than just MtF and FtM. There are so many trans identities that are being ignored, even within the trans community.

I won't even get started how us intersex folks are the most ignored and erased.

ALL of these tropes on this BuzzFeed article are pretty terrible, extremely annoying, and by now, they have been done to death. My main hope for the future is seeing more trans stories acted or told through the perspective of trans people. Like these films. Yes, they all have these trans tropes and two of them are used as examples in this BuzzFeed article, but they give us a glimpse of the possibilities that more trans people will be hired to play trans roles, and that one day, we'll have less or none of these tropes and more of letting characters be free from them. For now, this is a start:

The more, the merrier, and the less that we'll be seeing these tropes that really do need to stop hopefully soon and not later. Another hope of mine: more POSITIVE stories of the trans experience.

Not that I don't have many more hopes, I'm not even scratching the surface here!

Maybe I need to turn this into a slogan: HOPES, NOT TROPES!

I'd love to hear yours: How do you feel about these trans tropes? 

What would you like to see explored in trans literature and trans film? 


  1. I would love to see trans actors play cis characters and not just cis actors playing trans characters. Needs to go both ways. I think that would be awesome, and it would mark a whole new level of acceptance. And of course we need more stories with intersex folks!! <3

    1. Me too! Honestly, my thing isn't about trans people only playing trans folks. It's not even about cis people how they should NEVER play trans folks. The bottom line is:


      Trans actors need and deserve work too. No matter what role they play, cis or trans, I want to see them hired and working on as equal and as regular a basis as cis actors.

      It's gonna take longer for more stories to be about intersex people, but I'll hold onto that hope, however long it takes ;).