Now seems as good a time to talk about this as any, as in the past month there have been several video games released with trans character, which has rekindled a conversation that never really dies, but sometimes burns low.
TRANS PEOPLE DESERVE AUTHENTIC REPRESENTATION IN MEDIA.
I’ve talked about this before, when I write specifically about casting cis folk as trans characters. This is something more than that, this is about the trans characters themselves.
In regards to the video game representations, Laura Dale uses her considerable knowledge to discuss them, and I would recommend reading the article linked above. She details what the games actually did, so spoilers, and discusses why these are problematic/encouraging for trans people.
For the record, I’ve been on the trans girl Link wagon for years, because the idea of Link being a kickass girl just out to save her best friend is much more appealing to me than yet another boy with destiny getting the princess. I know it has been stated by the developers that Link is a boy, but considering there are multiple timelines and multiple Links, I am gonna keep my headcannon, thanks.
In tv and films we’re still having the same problems I wrote about before: trans actors being overlooked, trans characters having to have a tragic backstory, or being abused/murdered for storyline. We get that not all trans folk are the same, and there are multiple stories to be told, but can they stop being so miserable? Some trans people are able to adapt their lives and live quite happily. And please stop painting us all as mentally-ill weirdos: cis people have mental illnesses too, you don’t let it define their whole being.
Says a lot when one of the best known and well remembered trans characters is one from a soap who was killed off years ago. Yes Hayley Cropper was played by a cis woman, but she was treated respectfully, and whilst she died is had nothing to do with her being trans. I don’t even watch Coronation Street, and I still knew that she was treated like every other woman on the show. So that’s something.
I’d also like to be able to say those of us who dabble in literature are getting better at trans representation, but we’re falling down there too. Books seem to fall a lot into the same traps as films, where writers feel they need to wring every emotion out of a character that they can, and so our trans characters once more are tragic figures, plagued by abuse, mental illness and supposed loving partners who can’t be arsed getting their name and gender right.
And so much of this can be solved really easily: TALK TO ACTUAL TRANS PEOPLE. Like I’ve said many times before on this blog, and on twitter, being trans is a big part of my identity, but it is because I have made it so. I let it shape my thinking and how I present myself because we need good trans rep. I’m not perfect, but I do my best. I started this blog to get information out there because there weren’t the resources when I was young. I would have killed for a novel that showed a trans character in a positive light.
I would have loved to have seen a trans boy who’s biggest worry was his dog lay on him and put his leg to sleep. Because this happens to me 9 evenings out of 10. It doesn’t matter what your gender or sexuality, a dead leg from 20+ kilos of staffy causes all sorts of problems.
That’s the biggest takeaway from all this: that trans people are just people. We have all the same problems cis people have, just plus a few more. We don’t spend 100% of our time worrying about passing and appeasing cis people because we also have to think about our jobs, homes, caring for ourselves, our families, all the things cis people do to get through life too. It’s not that there are times I forget I’m trans, it’s more there are times when other problems take precedence, and honestly, I’d like to see more of that in media.
I’m doing my little bit, but it would be nice to see more people step up and take their turn.