Argues that transgender representations in film make it more difficult for cisgender people to understand the experiences of transgender people and for transgender people to fully participate in public life.
Distancing Representations in Transgender Film explores the representation of transgender identity in several important cinema genres: comedies, horror films, suspense thrillers, and dramas. In a critique that is both deeply personal and theoretically sophisticated, Lucy J. Miller examines how these representations are often narratively and visually constructed to prompt emotions of ridicule, fear, disgust, and sympathy from a cisgender audience. Created by and for cisgender people, these films do not accurately represent transgender people's experiences, and the emotions they inspire serve to distance cisgender audience members from the transgender people they encounter in their day-to-day lives. By helping to increase the distance between cisgender and transgender people, Miller argues, these films make it more difficult for cisgender people to understand the experiences of transgender people and for transgender people to fully participate in public life. The book concludes with suggestions for improving transgender representation in film.
Lucy J. Miller is Lecturer in Communication at Texas A&M University. She is the author of Genderblindness in American Society: The Rhetoric of a System of Social Control of Women and the coeditor (with Amanda R. Martinez) of Gender in a Transitional Era: Changes and Challenges.
"Miller writes with a sharp eye for cinematic detail but also with an awareness of the larger significance of her project for both the study and the representation of transgender identity in film. This is a thoughtful, provocative, persuasive, and valuable study that will be a crucial text for all film courses focusing on trans issues and representation in film." — David Greven, author of Ghost Faces: Hollywood and Post-Millennial Masculinity