The Transgender Media Portal
March 2020 – A very long time ago when I was a deeply frustrated and closeted trans woman I would go to any movie that had a trans character in it. All trans characters at the time would either be psychotic murderers or victims of violence which – the audience was led to believe – they somehow deserved. I’d come out of the theatre gritting my teeth, but such is the human need for seeing ourselves represented in stories that the next time a trans character appeared on film I paid my money again hoping for a different outcome.
While film has finally evolved from the dark ages, the only way we can be sure our stories are told authentically is to tell them ourselves. Finding and accessing our films can be a problem, however. The Transgender Media Portal (TMP) is an initiative headed by Laura Horak, an Associate Professor of Film Studies at Carleton University, and when completed will be a public online database of films and other audiovisual works created solely by trans, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, intersex, and Two Spirit artists.
I was invited to attend a usability test on March 7th of the early version of the platform. I was impressed with the amount of work the team had already done and how well thought out it was, but the longer I navigated the site and then engaged in discussions afterward I was struck by how much work they had left to do. Besides the immense amount of research required, there are the challenges of creating a functional, intuitive and interactive database while still considering the inevitable issues of confidentiality, inclusivity, and transphobia that trans related sites attract.
It’s a cliche, but nonetheless true that human beings do not survive on bread alone. Even under the most dire circumstances, we have a need to create and to hear our stories. Happily, the days of trudging to a theatre to watch a trans phobic film are over. The Transgender Media Portal is an opportunity for trans people and those interested in our reality to locate films that speak the truth about our lives. Thanks to the team at Carleton for undertaking this worthwhile project. I wish them luck and look forward to its launch in 2022.
More info: Transgender Media Portal.