Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Transgender movies everyone should see
by David-Elijah Nahmod

This article shared 6147 times since Wed Nov 21, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Since 1998, Nov. 20 has been set aside as the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's primary purpose is to remember and honor the many transgender people who died as a result of anti-trans violence. Although Nov. 20 is the official date, transgender people and their allies have events scheduled throughout the month.

For decades, trans people largely invisible in popular culture. As with gay men before them, on the rare occasions when they were seen, it was usually in a negative light. Though transgender characters are slowly moving into the light, it's still an uphill battle.

This column will examine three examples of trans people on the big screen. All three films are available on DVD.

Transamerica (2005)

When Dolly Parton received an Oscar nomination for writing Travellin' Thru, Transamerica's theme song, she appeared on CNN's Larry King Live. It was revealed during the interview that she lent her name to the low budget, independent film in order to help get it made and released.

"You seem to have an affinity with the gay community," observed King.

Replied Parton, "Why Larry, I don't have an affinity for anyone in particular. I just believe in the Lord and love everyone. And I particularly love people with the courage to be who they really are."

Parton's off-the-cuff reply is the overlying theme of Tucker's film. About to have her gender-reassignment surgery, Bree (Desperate Housewives' Felicity Huffman) finds out that she has a son, the product of a long forgotten brief fling. Young Toby (Kevin Zegers) is a hustler with dreams of becoming a gay porn star. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, he's in desperate need of guidance. Bree's therapist (Elizabeth Pena) tells Bree that her surgery will be approved after she meets and deals with her son. It's important, Bree is told, that she finalize her transition with all loose ends from her previous life tied up.

Bree travels to New York City to bail Toby out of jail. The two then embark on a road trip back to Los Angeles. At first Toby has no idea who Bree is—she pretends to be a missionary from a church. The film follows their journey as they bond, and as Toby gradually discovers Bree's true identity. In the film's most moving segment, they stop over in Phoenix and spend the night in Bree's childhood home.

Bree's parents are transphobic, yet they still love her dearly. Bree and Toby are robbed on the road. Bree needs to get back to Los Angeles in time for her surgery. Her parents buy her a plane ticket.

Shot on a shoestring, Transamerica is an unlikely love story between a woman who finds her true self and a lonely, unhappy young man who finds the parental love he yearns for. Through Bree's dialogue, viewers hear the simple message of the Transgender movement: that transitioning isn't a choice.

"I miss my son," says Mom.

"You never had a son," replies Bree.

It's an unforgettable journey that will do doubt open the eyes and hearts of many.

Boys Don't Cry (1999)

For her bold, brave performance as real life female-to-male individual Brandon Teena, Hilary Swank won the coveted Best Actress Oscar. Co-star Chloe Sevigny was nominated in the supporting character for her equally frank portrayal of Teena's girlfriend, Lana Tisdale. Released shortly after the murder of Matthew Shepard, the film helped fuel the discussion regarding the need for hate crime legislation in the USA.

Teena was no saint. The product of a broken, lower-middle-class home in Lincoln, Neb., Teena Renae Brandon (his birth name) was molested by his uncle. As a teen he began to identify as male, which was not accepted by his mom. Brandon fell in with a rough crowd, and got into trouble often. When his friends found out that he was biologically female, they killed him. Teena's violent end, so close to Shepard's death, shook many people. These two youngsters, both barely in their twenties, unknowingly but literally sacrificed their lives so that hate-crimes legislation could be passed. Amazingly, it wasn't until President Barack Obama signed on the dotted line Oct. 28, 2009, that this happened.

Swank offers a jaw-dropping performance. As Teena, she doesn't look female, yet viewers remain acutely aware throughout the film that they're watching a woman play a man. A scene in which Brandon and Lana make out—complete with what can politely be referred to as "tongue action," startled many. Both women, Swank and Sevigny, were unafraid to dive wholeheartedly into these controversial roles. Reportedly the real life Tisdale sued the film's producers, taking issue with the portrayal of herself as "white trash."

Boys Don't Cry is a dark, intense and relentless grim film. It's a sad look back upon the wasted life of a young man who's only right choice was to embrace his male identity. Were it not for the hate of others, he might be with us still.

Myra Breckenridge (1970)

Based on openly gay author Gore Vidal's best-selling gender-bending novel from 1968, Myra Breckenridge is one of Hollywood's most notorious bombs. Vidal reportedly wept when he saw the finished film, which was filled with a raunchy salaciousness that his satirical novel reportedly never intended to be part of the story. Many viewers were confounded by the clips from 1930s Hollywood films that were randomly inserted into various scenes of Myra Breckenridge, often seemingly for no reason.

In retrospect, Myra Breckenridge is much better—and funnier—than it's reputation would suggest. It has, in fact, developed quite a cult following. Stunning beauty Raquel Welch, then 28, was desperate to break out of her bikini clad sex symbol persona and be taken seriously as an actress. She saw the "transsexual" (the word used at that time) Myra as her ticket to critical acclaim. This was a very courageous thing to do in 1970, and Welch attacks the role with gusto. She's hilariously spot-on as Myra, the recently transitioned bombshell who comes to Hollywood in order to seek "revenge" on the male species.

The then-X-rated film (it's since been reclassified with an R) no doubt shocked many. Myra sets her sights on a young couple she meets at the Hollywood acting academy where she teaches "elocution," and seduces them both. In the one scene that remains shocking today, Myra straps on a dildo and rapes the young man, who thanks him.

Iconic sex symbol West, then 77, came out of retirement to play Hollywood superagent Leticia Van Allen. But West isn't playing Van Allen; she's playing, well, Mae West!

"How tall are you?" she asks a young acting hopeful.

"Why, ma'am, I'm six foot, seven inches," replies a very young Tom Selleck.

"Never mind the six feet. Let's talk about the seven inches." You have to hand it to a 77-year-old who's unafraid to flaunt her sexuality.

Four decades after the film nearly sent 20th Century Fox spiraling into bankruptcy, Myra Breckenridge can be looked back upon as an ahead of it's time film that dared to question—and poke fun of—society's rigid rules for gender roles. Alas, Welch didn't get the acclaim she yearned for and deserved for playing a character that every other name actress in Hollywood feared. But Welch had her happy ending in the 1980s, when she finally won a grudging respect from critics for roles she played on television.

This article shared 6147 times since Wed Nov 21, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

MOVIES 'Bolshoi Ballet' series to start locally Nov. 7 2021-10-21
- The "2021-2022 Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema" series is set to begin Sunday, Nov. 7 with Bolshoi Ballet: Spartacus—LIVE. Spartacus is considered a ballet tour de force, set to Aram Khachaturian's score. Bolshoi Ballet: Spartacus—LIVE is set t ...

Gay News

Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Fest names winners 2021-10-21
--From a press release - CHICAGO, Illinois — The 39th Reeling: Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival today announced the winning films from its 2021 program, which included 33 feature films and 54 short films curated in nine programs. This year's submissions ...

Gay News

'Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets' LGBTQ+ Representation in the Media' panel Nov. 4 2021-10-21
--From a press release - In recent years LGBTQ+ people have increasingly seen representations of themselves, celebrations of their lives and stories, and coverage of LGBTQ+ issues across media channels. This has led to a worldwide rise in understanding, cultural acceptance, ...

Gay News

Black Alphabet returns to host annual film festival in November 2021-10-20
By Cris Villalonga-Vivoni - The Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) is returning to Chicago after the pandemic forced the organization to cancel last year's event. On Nov. 5-7, BAFF will showcase 21 films and shorts about the Black queer experience ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Superman, TheWrap, Oscar Wilde, Billy Porter, Cher, 'Dragula' 2021-10-17
- The ongoing comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms, launched in July and saw Jon Kent officially take up the mantle of the Man of Steel now that his father, ...

Gay News

Wizard World Comic Con returns to Chicago 2021-10-17
- After being canceled last year because of the COVID pandemic, Wizard World Comic Con Chicago returned to Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Oct. 15-17—and thousands of people attended. People ranging from attendees to vendors ...

Gay News

Jury selection in Smollett trial starts Nov. 29 2021-10-15
- The Jussie Smollett saga continues. Almost three years since out actor Jussie Smollett (TV's Empire; the film Alien: Covenant) was allegedly attacked in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, Cook County Judge James ...

Gay News

CIFF, featuring LGBTQ+ films, running through Oct. 24 2021-10-15
- North America's longest-running competitive film festival, this year's event expands throughout Chicago with presentations at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; the Gene Siskel Film Center; special drive ...

Gay News

MOVIES Holiday comedy short centers on Muslim family and BIPOC queer relationship 2021-10-13
- The short film The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night follows Noor, a Muslim queer woman, and her experience with bringing her Puerto Rican partner home to meet her family for the first time. When Noor's ...

Gay News

THEATER 'A Rocky Horror Picture Party' at The Den on Oct. 30-31 2021-10-12
- Haven is presenting Science Fiction / Double Feature: A Rocky Horror Picture Party—an immersive Halloween experience that brings to life in vivid technicolor the world of the cult-classic film—directed by ...

Gay News

PBS to air queer documentary 'Things We Dare Not Do' Oct. 25 2021-10-12
- American Documentary | POV announced the national broadcast premiere of Things We Dare Not Do (Cosas que no hacemos), the second feature film from Mexican director and cinematographer Bruno Santamaría, as part of POV's 34th season. ...

Gay News

Madonna's latest concert film, Madame X, now out 2021-10-09
- The concept film to Madonna's acclaimed Madame X Tour has debuted in the United States Latin America, Australia, the Nordics and Canada exclusively on Paramount+, the streaming service from ViacomCBS. Fans outside these markets can watch ...

Gay News

MOVIES Colman Domingo to star in Bayard Rustin biopic 2021-10-09
- LGBTQ+ actor Colman Domingo—who has been in movies such as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Candyman, and TV shows ranging from Fear the Walking Dead to The Big Gay Sketch Show—has landed the lead role the ...

Gay News

Filmmakers Bennett Singer, Patrick Sammon talk new documentary Cured 2021-10-07
- Producer-directors Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon have created a new LGBTQ documentary: Cured. The film tells the story of the LGBTQ activists, allies and events surrounding the American Psychiatric Association's ...

Gay News

Sisters in Cinema, DocuClub providing consulting opportunities to filmmakers 2021-10-07
- Sisters in Cinema—a Chicago-based 501(C)3 that aims to center and celebrate Black girls, women and gender non-conforming media makers—and DocuClub, a work-in-progress screening series, have entered into a strategic partnership ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.