I sent the following note to Frameline today in response to its decision to screen the transphobic “Gendercator” at this year’s LGBT Film Festival. Frameline says it was not aware of the transphobic director’s note. But even without the director’s note, it’s hard to see how this clearly transphobic film made it into the venue. If you feel as many of us do that this LGBT Film Festival should empower our entire community, please email Frameline with your concerns.
more on “The Gendercator”:
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I watched The Gendercator today and I have to say, it’s even worse than I imagined. Up until this point we had been defending our decision to protest this film based on the transphobic director’s note alone — because there is absolutely no way to separate that note from the film’s content, even if the film itself turned out to be more subtle.
But how your review committee could let this slip through on the basis of it being “sci fi,” is truly bewildering, whether or not they saw the director’s note. There is nothing sci-fi about it: female-born characters complain of being ‘forced’ into looking like ‘old men’, the lead character asks people whether they had operations, they answer that they have mostly had hormone therapy. Clearly, the “scary villain” in this film is the trans person. Additionally, it is hardly a new thing for trans people to be hatefully referred to as “science projects” and freakish experiments; “frankendick” is a favorite phrase used against the trans commnunity, for instance. The transphobia in this film is not subtle.
I know that one person suggested that Frameline hold a public forum on these issues–I would particularly love Frameline to host a dialogue to tackle issues such as 1– how sci-fi and other genres are used as an excuse for hatred ; 2 –how controversy and hatred masquerades as dialogue and finally 3– how we can build community events that do not set a double standard for trans-related content. This forum would go a long way toward educating film fests around the country why they should not show this. Originally, when I was only dealing with the director’s note, I felt more flexible about what Frameline decided to do as long as awareness was raised. After having seen the film, however, I cannot believe it even made it this far. To screen it would be a slap in the face the entire San Francisco queer community.
One of the main critiques I’ve heard of our concerns, of course, is that pulling the film would be “censorship” or that the film itself may hold some value for some people. But the response to that is clear —
1– *all* the films selected by Frameline go through a selection process. Frameline is not an objective newspaper, it is an event “to strengthen the community.” There is always some level of censorship involved with the selection process. We are not asking for “censorship of free ideas”, we are asking that trans-related content simply be held to the same standard. Crouch’s film calls into question the very existence and dignity of trans people and I dont recall ever seeing a film at Frameline that allows the same attacks against gay people.
2– Additionally, whether the film holds value for some members of the community is actually irrelevant. People can access it elsewhere without asking for SF to rubberstamp its message. I am a member of the late Eric Rofes’ Sex Pol discussion group, and one of its members regularly hosts “ex-gay DVD nights”. What is amazing about the ex-gay movement is that it actually holds a lot of value : it has brilliantly found a way to make a space for its gay members, (as long as those members hate themselves) thus ensuring the survival of their church under the guise of its “loving” message. I love watching these films and discussing the implications of this movement, and am not even really offended by it on the surface. However, I know it is impossible to separate it from its political agenda and its hateful rhetoric, and I would never want to see these ex-gay films hosted by a gay community event.