Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trans rights are human rights

I chose THE CRYING GAME as one of the films in my season at the Edinburgh Filmhouse because it's one of the very few films I've ever seen with a trans character who is presented as a rounded human being capable of loving and of being loved.

When I introduced the film I said that mattered because all men have a woman inside them, just as all women have a man, and that our wholeness and happiness as human beings depend on our reaching a level of acceptance of our other self.

I said we can all see how dangerous and destructive it can be when a man hates and despises and fears his female self, because such an individual is now President of the United States.

I was glad I managed to say that. But having now seen the film again, I think I underestimated it.

Of course I love Dil and completely empathise with her. I love her courage in becoming herself - and that so inspired me. And I love the fact that she is empowered to kill the person who was responsible for her lover's death and so ruined her life.

This time round I found myself also totally loving Fergus, the male lead. The way early on he found himself feeling affection and respect for the British soldier that he knew, as an IRA volunteer, that he would eventually be ordered to kill.

The way he fell for Dil when he thought she was a cis woman and then, having been horrified to discover she was trans, found himself loving her just the same.

I understood the suffering that he feels, as a cis man, was the just the same as the suffering I used to feel as a trans woman: this unbearably painful conflict between what I knew I was supposed to be feeling and what I actually felt.

Somehow, over the years, I've found  a measure of peace in this conflict, just as I think Fergus had found at the end of the film.

Dil had certainly found it: she was one beautiful whole person by the end.

In that way, I think, the film was trying to do then what I try to do now: to communicate the very simple, but still somehow very subversive, idea that to be trans is to be human and to be human is to be trans and that if we as a society deny trans rights we are in fact denying our own humanity.

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