Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-08-27
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Attendees board 'Soul Train' at ALCC event Attendees board 
'Soul Train' 
at ALCC event
The AIDS Legal Council of Chicago's (ALCC's) annual summer bash took place ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Transgender movies everyone should see
DVD ROUNDUP
by David-Elijah Nahmod
2012-11-21

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily
agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here.
Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you
stay on this page, the more you help us.

Gay Asian website to debut 'Break-up King' 2014-08-30
Women's Words Film Fest premieres shorts 2014-08-29
Reeling LGBT film fest opens Sept. 18 2014-08-27
Knight at the Movies: Love Is Strange; To Be Takei; Yves; film notes 2014-08-27
Director Ira Sachs, star Alfred Molina on 'Love Is Strange' 2014-08-27
Expendables 3 reveal; Roberts' honor; Cohen on Top Chef 2014-08-26
Way-out Wizard World: costumes, characters, artists 2014-08-26
Machnik wins Nate Berkus' reality show, looks at future 2014-08-25
Knight at the Movies: The Dog; The Giver; film note 2014-08-19
Gay superhero event touches on gender stereotypes, diversity 2014-08-19
'Orange' wins Creative Emmys 2014-08-17
Film about George Takei to screen at Facets 2014-08-16
Iconic actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89 2014-08-13
Iconic actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89 2014-08-13
Lesbian drama 'Anatomy' on Vimeo 2014-08-13
Jena Malone and Lem Jay Ignacio in 'Shoe' business 2014-08-12
Knight at the Movies: Into the Storm; film notes 2014-08-11
Reeling announces line-up of LGBT films 2014-08-08
Knight at the Movies: Violette; The Hundred-Foot Journey 2014-08-06
Jennifer Hudson on family; Turing subject of film 2014-08-05
Wachowskis host TransLife Center benefit at film studio 2014-08-03
Joan Jett's honor; Nathan Lane's point; 'True Blood' 2014-07-30
Knight at the Movies: Marvel's Guardians...; Lucy; film notes 2014-07-30
Agnes Moorehead to get her due at NRHOF ceremony 2014-07-30
Wachowskis to open studio to benefit TransLife Center 2014-07-30
Knight at the Movies: And So It Goes; film notes 2014-07-23
The Bijou Chronicles Steven Toushin: Matt Revira 2014-07-23
Dustin Lance Black plane scare; Quinto movie news; NeNe vs. Wendy 2014-07-22
GLAAD's Vito Russo Test: Offensive film content from largest studios 2014-07-22
Film about adoption premieres at Center 2014-07-16
Laverne Cox on 'FREE CECE,' kids and uniting LGBTs 2014-07-16
Lisa Whelchel sets the 'Facts' straight with new movie 2014-07-15
UN music video for gay rights Exceeds One Million Views 2014-07-15
The White Room with Laura Chernicky at Gene Siskel July 16 2014-07-14
NUNN ON ONE Fred Willard returns to Second City 2014-07-14
The White Room film heads to the Gene Siskel Film Center 2014-07-11
Movie festival gives voice, vision to Black LGBTQ filmmakers 2014-07-09
Knight at the Movies: The Nance; film notes 2014-07-08
Truth In Progress launches kickstarter campaign for film 2014-07-07
Film highlights Birth Certificate Access Law 2014-07-03





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 



 

Attendees board 'Soul Train' at ALCC event
 
DINING Freshii's Alex Blair on expanding empire
 
Way-out Wizard World: costumes, characters, artists
 
Michael Jackson tribute Aug. 28-30 in Gary, Indiana
 
Before we go moving the Pride Parade...
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.