Have you seen the clip from Doubt of three trans women, played by trans women actors, sitting in an outdoor cafe, chatting and existing plainly? If you haven't, no worries. Doubt is/was a CBS show that barely premiered before it was cancelled. In fact, it was cancelled after only two episodes. Later on, they decided to show the remaining filmed episodes and I finally caught up with them on Sunday. I actually wouldn't have even known the episodes were up if I wasn't following Laverne Cox, Angelica Ross, and Jen Richards on social media. If you want to check the clip out, follow this link. Thanks Angelica for posting it.
This clip is remarkable. Not necessarily because of the content of the conversation, although there is a lot to parse out there as well, but because it is... well, almost unremarkable. At its core, the clip is of three women, three friends having lunch together and talking about a couple of the men in one of the women's life, a successful lawyer played by Laverne Cox. What makes it special is that these are three trans women daring to exist publicly in broad daylight, surrounded by just about anyone, not whispering the word "transgender." There's no shame, no secrecy... well, the latter is slightly untrue. The only secrecy (and perhaps shame for him) exists in the identity of one of the men, who is a professional athlete who ostensibly does not want to it known that he is having any sort of relationship with a trans woman. But that's just conjecture.
What I also thought was remarkable about this scene was the content of the conversation. I'm downplaying it only in comparison to the visual of Laverne, Angelica, and Jen's characters chit-chatting publicly and unapologetically. But the chat itself is also important here. Beyond the fact that they're talking about two (potentially/assumingly straight and cisgender) men who are into a beautiful, smart, and successful Black trans woman (something that is not that radical of a concept for some of us), there is an interesting exchange that occurs.
Laverne's character is being pursued by a former law school classmate of hers who has reappeared working in the D.A.'s office and she is unsure if she should trust his motivations. Angelica's character is the skeptical friend, while Jen plays the encouraging optimist. It is in that exchange that we get access to a few of the things that trans women have to weigh in their minds in these cases - do they respond to these advances and risk being tokenized, exoticized (Angelica's comment about him being a "chaser"), or met with violence; or given these risks do they reject them and push away another opportunity to find love, good sex, or even just a fun date? It's a well-written educational moment that is delivered brilliantly and authentically (duh, because these women actually live this!) without feeling like some sort of trans 101 or even 102. They're just being themselves, trans-ing matter-of-factly.
This clip shouldn't be special, but in our current moment it still is, partially because of how adamant the haters are to legislate trans people's ability to exist at all in the public domain, let alone nonchalantly talk about transness, sex, and love. It is also special, because of its uniqueness. As Angelica herself said, "I hope Hollywood is paying attention! This scene shows real trans women as HUMANS with friends and careers and MEN WHO ARE CHASING US and not depicting it the other way around with trans women tricking and preying on these poor innocent straight men."
Take note writers and producers and the like. I look forward to the moment when this clip is nothing more than a 54 second banter among friends about a couple of dudes.
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society - Jiddu Krishnamurti
Blogs I Like
Black Girl Dangerous
Crunk Feminist Collective
Dances with Dissonance
Eric Mata: Words
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Trans* Resilience Blog