The horror genre has a transphobia problem. I’m an avid horror fan whose apartment requires a warning to enter with all the horror villains plastered to my walls. I am also a transgender person who knows that negative depictions of my community, however unintentionally harmful, do have an impact. To understand these consequences, I will be discussing four horror films that feature transmisogynist tropes and explore how their portrayal causes real harm to the trans community.
On May 5, 2023, UCLA screened “Coming to You” (“한글: 너에게 가는 길”) directed by Gyu-ri Byun (she/her), a groundbreaking Korean documentary about the mothers of queer adults in Korea. The documentary centers on the mothers, Nabi (she/her) and Vivian (she/her), who are members of PFLAG Korea (Parents, Families and Allies of LGBTAIQ+ People in Korea). Both women are cisgender and heterosexual. Prior to their children coming out to them, they held little to no knowledge about the queer community and harbored discriminatory opinions about queerness. Nonetheless, the documentary made no excuses for their past queerphobia and followed their journeys into wholehearted queer activism.
Harmony Korine’s 1997 directorial debut “Gummo” is one of those movies that gets swallowed up by its own images. More than any plot event, people remember “Gummo” for the bathtub spaghetti scene, the Bunny Boy’s hat, and the unique shape of Jacob Reynold’s head as Solomon on the film’s box art. This is strange, though, considering that the film itself aspires to be so much more. Revisiting “Gummo,” it reads as an attempt to address as many social and political issues as possible by slotting them into the film’s Midwestern setting. Over the course of its runtime, “Gummo” explores themes ranging from sexual assault to racism to misogyny to ableism and eventually to homophobia, transphobia, and beyond, all to wildly varying degrees of success.
In 1977, orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant campaigned against a new anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Florida. She had it overturned and riding on the wave of this success, started Save Our Children, the United States’ first national anti gay group.
I wish I could welcome you with nothing but vigorous optimism, but the precariousness of my community’s position in this country is too important to be waved away. As a historical queer publication, it is our responsibility to make sure the most marginalized do not go unnoticed. The theme of our Fall 2022 print edition is Satanic Panic, named after the hysteria of the late 20th century that cast a dangerous shadow over queer people everywhere.
Instead of shutting down harmful anti-trans bills, the Montana House of Representatives chose to shut down the voice of trans representative Zooey Zephyr. Zephyr is a member of the Montana House of Representatives and is in the 100th district representing Missoula, one of the bluest areas of Montana.
The ACLU is currently tracking 467 anti-LGBTQ bills among 45 state legislators at the time of publication. On April 13, the U.S. Department of Education (referred to as The Department) published its proposed updates to Title IX regulations entitled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance: Sex-Related Eligibility Criteria for Male and Female Athletic Teams.”
In January, Noah Schnapp posted a TikTok that read, “When I finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years, and all they said was ‘we know.’” The sound he lip syncs to says, “You know what it never was? That serious. It was never that serious. Quite frankly, it will never be that serious.” He captioned it, “I guess I’m more similar to will than I thought,” a reference to Will Byers, the character he plays in the show “Stranger Things,” who was confirmed by Schnapp to be gay in an interview with Variety last year.
On March 3, 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 3, a bill that bans public drag shows under the rationale that they are “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” The first offense would be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in jail time of up to 11 months and 29 days and/or fines of up to $2500. The second or subsequent offenses would be classified as Class E felonies, which can lead to one to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $3000.