“A film that centers on a transgender person or storyline enters the culture like any other movie. The difference lies in the discourse around it.” So writes Caden Mark Gardner in a recent essay in the Criterion Collection’s online publication, the Current. “Trans people in movies are written and talked about as if they were abstract concepts, anomalies. For years, it’s been clear that very little attention is being paid (by filmmakers, critics, or marketers) to the ways in which a trans audience might see and react to these attempts at putting their lives in front of the camera, and the cisgender majority continues to control the conversation.”

On this week’s episode, Film Comment editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute brought together a roundtable of writers and artists who are reframing this conversation: critics Caden and Willow Maclay, and filmmakers Isabel Sandoval and Jessica Dunn Rovinelli. We asked the panel to respond to a number of excellent questions submitted by the Film Comment community, including: How does one define trans cinema? Are visibility and representation important, or should questions of labor be foregrounded? And which classic movies do our panelists consider to be “covertly” trans? The rich and wide-ranging conversation touched upon a number of movies—see below for links!

Links & Things:

“From the Margins: What the Archives Show Us About Trans Cinema and Audiences” and “Bridging the Gaps in Trans History: A Conversation with K. J. Rawson” by Caden Mark Gardner
“Body Talk: Conversations on Transgender Cinema” by Willow Maclay and Caden Mark Gardner
“Seeing as the Other” by Isabel Sandoval
Isabel Sandoval’s Lingua Franca, Señorita, and Apparition
Jessica Dunn Rovinelli’s So Pretty, Empathy, and more
Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971)
The Queen (Frank Simon, 1968)
Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983)
Peter Pan (Clark Jones, 1955) starring Mary Martin
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)
I Am My Own Woman (Rosa von Praunheim, 1992)
Giant (George Stevens, 1956)
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Jane Schoenbrun, 2021)
No Ordinary Man (Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt, 2020)
Disclosure (Sam Feder, 2020)
Céline and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
The Wanderers (Philip Kaufman, 1979)
Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman, 1985)

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