My motivation behind the Trans/Forms project is to create space for artists who identify as transgender to represent themselves and explore new narratives of gender and identity. I wanted to do this because I feel trans people within mainstream media are generally treated as stereotypes and cliches, with the same limited narrative being repeated and rehashed over and over.
The presence of transgender people in the media has shot up in the last few years, but most of the time writers and filmmakers seem to be happy to stick with the same narratives that have been knocking around since I was first transitioning around 13 years ago. It seems like if you’re not binary identified, don’t want to have medical intervention, or in some other way don’t fit in with the cultural idea of what a trans person is then the mainstream media just aren’t interested in your story. They are also usually focused almost entirely on medicalised physical transition, objectifyng our bodies and rendering invisible those trans people who don’t define their identity or lives in this way.
The sad fact is that writers and producers of documentaries generally know the story they want to tell before they start making it. This means they Too often end up being overly influenced by the media which has appeared before, picking subjects which fit within the narrative which they already feel they understand, and then simply omitting anything they express which doesn’t fit in with this. This puts me in mind of the Ouroboros of medieval art – the image of the snake eating its own tail.
It seems to me that the only way to truly break out of this is to create space for trans people to represent themselves; things like YouTube and tumblr are great platforms for this but it will never have the same sort of reach for the general population as documentaries and articles made for mainstream publication. I feel that if those creating the media really want to create something that is subversive and showing people something new they should be funding trans folk to produce and edit their own media about our lives, rather than thinking they know best how to represent us.