This week I saw a panel hosted by Sundance and Glaad that featured transgender men and transmasculine icons in film: Sydney Baloue, Elliot Feliciano, Alex Schmider, Yance Ford, Scott Turner Schofield, D’Lo, Leo Sheng, and Bobbi Salvör Menuez. In a transphobic world, it is almost a privilege to be invisible-but what is the cost of our invisibility? When cis people think of a trans person, they often think of trans women and trans feminine people but only because there are countless examples of defamation and demonization of our transgender sisters and siblings. When people lack the imagination that a man like me can exist-it reminds me just how powerful I am to exist anyway. My brothers and I exist beyond what a cisgender society defines as a man- I chose to believe that that’s what makes us so powerful.
I’m so glad that Yance Ford spoke on this panel about abolishing the Hollywood pipeline altogether. The pipeline of cisgender directors and writers in the film industry bringing trans people into the room is valuable, but only in a transitional sense. While cisgender to transgender mentorship is well-intentioned, the entire film industry’s system is designed to create distance-we are validating that distance if cisgender people are the gatekeepers of our own stories. We still need a stronger network of cisgender people in the film industry who respect and understand transgender people and our stories, but we also need to realize that this system isn’t the answer to transgender liberation in storytelling. The film industry itself is designed to create distance and this distance does not just exist between cis and trans people-it’s in every facet of marginalization. That’s like, the whole thing actually! Race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and everything that white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy touches, is part of that validation.
This panel was so fruitful to watch, I wish everyone could watch it because it connects to every facet of being a human being in 2021. We are all craving liberation and because it has yet to happen-we don’t know what it will look like and how we will get there. I believe that this panel brings up ways in which we could see this future we are craving into the present. Trans masculinity is precious, holy, and something deeply needed not just in film- but in our every day lives.