WHY TELL THIS STORY NOW
This history is crucial now, as trans rights are being debated in state and federal courts, and trans and gender nonconforming people are struggling to survive (and find public bathrooms to use safely and legally). In the aftermath of the most noxious political cycle in US history, we are seeing an attack against LGBT civil rights, and a terrifying rise in hate violence. We have also witnessed the tremendous impact of media and how, when it is used to broadcast hate speech—especially the repetition of bigoted stereotypes—it reinforces prejudice and encourages bullying and violence. The stories included in DISCLOSURE speak directly to this crisis: when people are dehumanized in the media it’s much easier to strip them of their human rights. And conversely, by focusing on the trans community as they emerge into the media spotlight, we have an opportunity to examine the various possible outcomes of visibility—is it a pathway to civil rights or virulent backlash or both?
DISCLOSURE explores the connection between trans visibility in the media and an increase in violence against trans people. The murders of trans women, specifically trans women of color, have doubled since 2015. Early 2016, legislatures in twenty-two states introduced bills threatening the civil rights of transgender people, including the infamous “bathroom bills.” Now the Trump administration is supporting states’s rights to discriminate against trans youth in schools. It’s a curious focus of attention since there has never been one reported case of a man dressing as a woman in order to harass or harm women in a bathroom. Where did this fear come from? As far back as 1915, Fatty Arbuckle, in the film Miss Fatty's Seaside Lovers, enters the ladies room disguised in a dress, in order to ogle women. It’s a recurring trope in film and TV (see also Some LIke it Hot (1959), Freebie and the Bean (1974), etc.). This is just one example of how repetitive images in the media can reinforce false ideas about entire communities. DISCLOSURE asks audiences to question these decades-old stereotypes. Only by seeing this history clearly will these relentless trans characters and plot lines become a story of the past.