I know this is late, and I said I’d aim to have it up yesterday, but I failed. So deal with it. Right now I am on a coach to Derby for the weekend so I am going to try and get my posts scheduled for the next few days. I hope they prove helpful to people as always, and just a reminder that they may not be as long as usual since I shall be expanding on a lot of the topics after April.
Today I will be talking about Recognition, discussing media, certificates and more.
Historically trans people have had awful representation in the media, the latest atrocity being the hatred towards Brighton and Hove City Council for asking about a child’s gender identity when starting school. For years there was nothing, then when it started it was portraying trans women as men in dresses, making them the laughing stock. Slowly things have begun to change though. I have actually seen trans masculine people on TV now and shows have begun to actually show trans people as any other person. Hayley on Coronation Street was one of the first trans female characters tackled in a soap and that was revolutionary when it was shown. Her identity was validated. However she was played by a cis woman which is a whole other topic I will discuss in a bit.
More recently we have seen trans actors actually playing trans characters (shocking, I know!), notably Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black and, on the British soap Eastenders, Riley Carter Millington plays a trans character (the first to do so in a UK soap). It is slow progress but it is progress all the same. The public may react in different ways to the ‘shock’ of trans characters but I think it is really positive.
The representation of non-binary characters has not been as great, but I think as it is quite a ‘novel’ thing to a lot of people (the same as trans people once were) it may take a little longer to see us in mainstream media.
In terms of cis actors playing trans characters this is something we still have to work on in today’s media. Recently there have been a few storms in the trans community about certain actors, such as Eddie Redmayne playing Lili Elby in The Danish Girl – while a trans actress played a cis character in the same film. I think it is a fine line to whether it is okay or not. In all honesty as an actor I believe that anyone should be able to play any character however you would not have a white actor play a black character, particularly in a performance which is centred around their ethnicity. So I feel the same should be applied where a cis actor is picked to play a trans character. If the performance centres around their transition, a cis person can try to educate themselves around how it feels but will never be able to understand fully. However, by contrast, a trans person has been through the emotions personally and can express their own experiences a lot better as a general rule. Of course this does not always work out to be true but in most cases it can be translated more realistically.
Laws have changed too regarding transition. Going from no protection at all, there have been many acts put in place such as the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 and the Equality Act of 2010. Both of these put in place requirements on how trans people must be treated, it protects us from discrimination in all settings and puts in place various regulations for how things need to be done.
Unfortunately neither of these are perfect though. Non-Binary people are still not included exclusively in the legislation, those in a marriage or civil partnership still have to dissolve their legal relationship to change their gender officially, and trans people still have to submit their documentation to a judge system where a board decide if you really are your true gender for a fee in order to change your gender marker on your birth certificate and get a Gender Recognition Certificate. There are a lot of talks to try and improve the system as it is, and I hope to see this done in the next few years. I know I myself am unwilling to change my gender to male when I have the possible future of getting a gender neutral option that better represents me.
What are your experiences with recognition around gender? I mean I have barely touched on the subject here, what can you see I may have missed? Anything you’d like me to cover in more detail in future posts? Let me know in the comments!