FREE CECE, the new documentary with Laverne Cox, explores the roles race, class and gender played in CeCe McDonald’s case. McDonald’s claim of self defense was rejected by Hennepin County prosecutors. The documentary explores the implications of CeCe’s story as a survivor, housing trans women in male prisons, and the practice of keeping trans women in solitary confinement. Please take a moment to visit the site and contribute a tax deductible donation so this important work can continue. http://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/655/
The laughter at transgender people’s expense didn’t end there, either. One month after Ace Ventura premiered I saw Naked Gun 33 1/3, the hit comedy in which Anna Nicole Smith’s character does a sexy silhouette striptease that ends up revealing a penis. Once again, her former suitors are appalled. Then there’s the famous Tone Loc frat anthem “Funky Cold Medina,” the second verse of which finds Loc talking about a girl he meets named Sheena. After the two flirt, Loc takes Sheena home, where it’s revealed that she’s transgender. The rapper, who you might remember also co-starred in Ace Ventura, throws Sheena out of his house, saying, “I don’t fool around with no Oscar Mayer wiener.” Even in supposedly queer-friendly movies like 1991’s Soapdish you’ll find characters disgusted by transgender people, like when Robert Downey Jr. gags after having a romantic interlude with a trans woman.
Repugnance is a common theme in the trans-people-as-jokes canon. But more prevalent is the element of deceit. Time and again in both comedic and dramatic films, transgender people are cast as deviant tricksters out to fool innocent victims into sleeping with them. This narrative plays upon two of America’s deepest fears: sexual vulnerability and humiliation. Not only is your sex partner “lying” about their gender, victims who “fall for it” are then forced to grapple with the embarrassment of being had, of being seen as gay. Men “tricked” into sleeping with another man are embarrassed by the threat to their masculinity. So much culture has taught us that transgender people aren’t just sexual aliens, they’re also predatory liars.