Trans Media Arts — Film, Entertainment, Art!

| May 2, 2016
Amanda Farren

Amanda Farren

Welcome to May everyone! The May flowers are blooming. This is my favorite month for many reasons. First being that it leads off with my birthday on the 1st. May is also a great time for huge summer movies to premier, as well as May sweeps on TV, where the studios put their best foot forward and bring out the event TV. Hopefully everyone is finally done with all of that snow and thinking warm, sunny thoughts. As usual, we highlight the happenings in the world of transgender people in the media.
Caitlyn Jenner has taken up Donald Trump’s offer and used the women’s restroom at one of his luxury buildings. The Republican presidential candidate said last week that he believes transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose. Trump said North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom law,” which directs transgender people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificates, has caused unnecessary strife.

You can see the video on Cait’s Facebook page. Her reality show airs on the E! network on Sundays.

HB2U.S. rock bands Pearl Jam and Boston have canceled shows in North Carolina over a new state law they call discriminatory against transgender people, the groups said. The cancellations make the bands the latest entertainment acts to take a stance against the measure, known as House Bill 2.

“The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens,” Pearl Jam, a pioneering grunge rock group, said in a handwritten statement posted on its Facebook page. North Carolina last month became the first state to require transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms in schools and other public facilities that correspond with their birth gender instead of the gender with which they identify.

Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, rocker Bruce Springsteen and performance group Cirque du Soleil have canceled North Carolina shows to protest the law. More than 160 business executives have signed a Human Rights Campaign letter pushing for it to be repealed.

Lavato

Lavato

Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas are joining Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Cirque du Soleil and others in canceling shows in North Carolina to protest the state’s new anti-transgender law. The former Disney Channel stars issued a statement on Twitter on Monday saying they will not perform in Raleigh and Charlotte this summer because a goal of their concerts is to allow every person to feel equal, included and accepted.

“North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law is extremely disappointing, and it takes away some of the LGBT community’s most basic rights and protections,” the duo wrote. “But we will not allow this to stop us from continuing to make progress for equality and acceptance.”

Transparent, the Amazon-streamed show about transgender acceptance, is having a disagreement on its set related to its new unisex bathrooms. Some crew members are reportedly upset about having to use the restroom in the same space as coworkers of different genders, now that both bathrooms are open-access. TMZ reports the story, adding that many are allegedly afraid to complain about the issue over concern that they’ll be labeled transphobic. Transparent starring Jeffrey Tambor airs on Amazon Prime. It is currently in its second stellar season. Caitlyn Jenner is slated to appear on the show next season.

Cleopatra Kambugu

Cleopatra Kambugu

Cleopatra Kambugu is the focus of a new documentary directed by Jonny Von Wallström. Cleo refuses to be a victim. She refuses to be silenced, or made afraid. She simply wants to be free to live her life and love her man. It’s a universal feeling, this wanting, needing to be free, but in a place like Uganda, and for a woman like Cleo, freedom is hard fought. Hailing from Uganda, one of the most homophobic places on Earth, Cleo shares her story of love and triumph in the new documentary, The Pearl of Africa. The film is a love story between Cleo and her quiet, but fiercely loyal partner Nelson, who stands by her side throughout her entire journey. Wallström followed Cleo and Nelson for 18 months amid mounting anti-gay discrimination as she worked towards improving the welfare of Uganda’s LGBT community.

The Pearl of Africa premieres April 30 of the International Spectrum program at the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival.

Zhang Wei

Zhang Wei

Zhang Wei, the Chinese writer, director and producer known for socially conscious films such as Factory Boss and Destiny, is to focus on transgenderism for his next feature. The Rib, which deals with the intersection of a transgender youth, religion and family life in modern day China, is in pre-production with principal photography set to begin early 2017. Loosely based on true events, The Rib follows a transgender teenager who is born into a devoutly Christian family. When his mother discovers that he wants to transition from male to female, she is filled with grief, rage and confusion as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing decision. The two fight to overcome their differences and face a society where prejudice against the underground LGBT community is rife.

Zhang Wei has made his name as an independent filmmaker who has focused on socially conscious films — through his production company Huahao Film & Media — that expose the underbelly of contemporary China.

Seth Meyers is taking aim at transphobic legislation. In a hilarious segment titled, Bathroom Bills: A Closer Look, the Late Night with Seth Meyers host reviewed the recently passed laws in Mississippi and North Carolina, which make it illegal for transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identities.

“A policy hasn’t created this much bathroom confusion since hipster bars started using animals as bathroom door signs,” Meyers quipped. “Am I a bird or a squirrel? All I know is I’m gonna crap my pants in five seconds.

During the informative clip, Meyers broke down the ignorance behind the passage of these laws, outlined the boycott among celebrities like Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, reviewed the conservative backlash to Target for being pro-LGBT, and debunked the myth that transgender people are bathroom predators.

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The crossdressing troublemaker.

The crossdressing troublemaker.

Halifax’s leading theater company says it has altered its production of Shrek: The Musical in response to a transgender person who walked out of a recent performance to protest an offensive word. Ky Grey said he walked out of Neptune Theatre’s opening night performance of the musical after the character of the Big Bad Wolf used the word “tranny.”

Grey, 20, who was at the March 29 performance with his mother, said the word followed several mocking references to the wolf character being a crossdresser. Grey said the word, which he can’t bring himself to say, was upsetting, as was the reaction in the audience. “Just the idea that this character who was supposed to be a man dressing in a dress and how funny that was, hearing kids laugh about it — it was all very overwhelming.”

Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace

As countless musicians are boycotting gigs in North Carolina over its recent anti-LGBT law, one musician is showing up in protest. Our own Laura Jane Grace, the transgender founder and singer of Florida punk-rock band Against Me! said she will play her May 15 show as a protest to the “ridiculous law.”

“I’m going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared,” the 35-year-old told Buzzfeed News. “They are not going to go away.”

Jo Anne Geron is a psychology professor at Pierce College in Lakewood, WA. Last year, professor Geron was offered a sabbatical to finish a project she had been passionate about for years. Her art exhibit, STARE!, went up in the Fine Arts Gallery on April 1, and will remain up until May 5. On April 13, the college had a reception and questions and answers session at the end.

Geron wanted the project to be about obscuring gender and how that affects people’s view of others, Geron is a psychology professor and the department coordinator in the social science division, “I felt very familiar with this issue because of my work,” Geron said. She began this project in 2014, after Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. “I’m Israeli, so this was constantly on my mind, and it really did influence my work.”

A transgender student and singer has told how she was forced to sign a contract by her former college promising not to ‘engage in LGBTI behavior.’

Summer Luk

Summer Luk

Summer Luk, 22, who comes from a religious and conservative family from Hong Kong and lives in New York, said the Christian school also made students vow not to drink, party or have sex. The musician, who went to the school when she first came to the US, was told that biblical studies was ‘compulsory’ and she had to go to church around 36 times per semester. After two years, Summer, who identifies as a transgender woman, left the college and moved to NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she is now a senior and studying media, communications, music and social justice.

She said NYU was the first time she could email her professors as Summer and use female pronouns and said ‘they didn’t have a problem with it.’ Writing about the moment she left Biola University in Los Angeles and moved to New York, she said she felt “…waves of liberation. When I first stepped into the hallways at New York University, it felt like a dream.”

Things are really beginning to heat up in the transgender world. It’s amazing that we went from a blip on the radar to full-fledged hot-button issue this year. It can be good and bad for us. Hopefully more and more stories can be told and more transgender people can be involved in telling those stories. The media today is as expansive as ever and allows voices to be heard that would otherwise not be. These are exciting times. We are in the middle of a revolution. That’s all for now folks! Enjoy the month of May, and remember to watch out for Ted Cruz peeking under your bathroom stall.

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Category: Fun & Entertainment, Media

Amanda F. Steele

About Amanda F. Steele: I am a transwoman originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I have been living full time for 4 years. I work in retail but am an artist/Graphic Designer and aspiring writer. I tend to address the controversial in my writing. I would love to change the world one article at a time. I moved here to The San Francisco Bay Area to start over, again. The adventure continues...

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