In 2014 trans people have gained more mainstream prominence than they ever have before, with the likes of “Orange Is The New Black” star, Laverne Cox, making it onto the cover of Time magazine and Conchita Wurst winning the Eurovision Song Contest. However it’s also true that the majority of those who are fully supportive of trans aren’t really aware of the issues that people who don’t fit into the traditional gender binary face, or even that ‘pre-op’ and ‘post-op’ are not the main types of trans people. I admit that I am one of those and I am the uncle to a FTM trans nephew.
A documentary such as “What’s The T?” can be important, as simply bringing us into a variety of trans women’s lives and therefore can be illuminating and educational. The film features contributions from the fairly well-known Cassandra Cass along with a range of ordinary trans people, who talk about the issues they face as well as inviting us into their lives, which range from the remarkably ordinary to those making a difference for both other trans* people and society in general.
The documentary offers a range of trans lives. It seems that in the last couple of years there’s been an effort from some places to try to homogenise and assimilate the trans public image in order to make it more palatable to the mainstream and due to a distaste for those who transition and then don’t simply try to fit themselves neatly into one of the two traditional gender options.
For example Cassandra Cass, who’s made her name amongst drag queens in burlesque, talks (from a slightly pop psychology perspective) about how she was influenced by Playboy bunnies during her transition as she believes that growing up these people were presented to her as being amongst the ultimate women. She certainly doesn’t look like most people and her life isn’t traditional, but she is nonetheless a person who is articulate and inspiring.
There are those trans women living relatively ordinary lives, who have to face prejudice and issues specific to their life experience, but who are largely just like everybody else. Indeed it’s one of the documentary’s great strengths that it spends as much time talking about the problems we all share no matter our gender identity as it does those specific to the trans experience.