Calling the Media on Trans Representation

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DISCLOSURE
Directed by Sam Feder
Netflix

 

DIRECTED BY Sam Feder, Disclosure is a Netflix original documentary in which notable trans actors, writers, academics, and activists examine the history of trans representation in film and television. Throughout his directorial career, Feder has maintained a focus on the lives of trans people and their challenges and triumphs. His documentary Boy I Am (2006) looked at the lives of three transitioning transmasculine people in New York City and the stigma they faced from parts of the cisgender lesbian community. No More Lies (2010) is a documentary short that, like Disclosure, reviewed trans representation in the media. Kate Bornstein Is a Queer & Pleasant Danger (2014) followed the trans performance artist and activist on tour as she explored gender issues through her art.

            Disclosure, which falls neatly into Feder’s wheelhouse as a filmmaker, finds him interviewing prominent figures across disciplines to investigate how trans people have been portrayed in film and on television, a topic that most people know little about. Laverne Cox serves as the primary narrator throughout, opening the documentary with this statement: “I never thought I’d live in a world where trans people would be celebrated, on or off the screen. … I never thought the media would stop asking horrible questions, and start treating us with respect. Now look how far we’ve come.” The arc of this historical process is what this film aims to examine, along with the benefits—and the risks—of such representation for the day-to-day lives of trans people.

           

                       

         

Faces from Disclosure (from top): Tiq Milan (media maker), Laverne Cox (actress), and Yance Ford (filmmaker).

           

 

 

Craig Hale, one of the hosts for the podcast I Want You to Watch This, reviews films for Letterboxd.com.

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