“We don’t know our own past”: New doc explores trans representation over a century of film and TV

“Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen” explores how trans people have been depicted in film and television for over a century. The documentary combats the notion of trans people being a “new phenomenon” by situating them “in a historical legacy,” says award-winning actress Jen Richards, who also appears in the film. “We don’t know our own past. We don’t know that we have been around because we don’t get to see those images,” she says. The film also explores how inaccurate representations of trans people in the media have ultimately been harmful for the community. Even 1992’s “The Crying Game,” a film that was once considered groundbreaking, created a negative trope that has stuck with Richards over the years. “This trope of men vomiting in response to the disclosure of a trans body has been repeated endlessly in ‘Ace Ventura’ and ‘Family Guy’ over and over again,” she says. “For trans people, those images just get placed in our brains and are really hard to dislodge.” We spoke with Richards as well as the documentary’s director Sam Feder about the film and its exploration of the idea of “disclosure” and representation.

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