I watched a documentary the other day in The History of the Body. We watched â€śSouthern Comfort,â€? centering on a FTM man during his final year with terminal ovarian cancer.
The film raises a lot of gender issues, and a lot of social stigma issues. Robert, the main focus in the film, passes very easilyâ€¦so easily that he is invited to a KKK meeting by men he meets in a bar.
Robertâ€™s girlfriend, Lola is a very different person. Lola identifies as Lola; yet, when she works, she works as John, the persona she was before she came out. I believe this was because she hasnâ€™t come out to her clients yet, and it was just easier to avoid that conversation for the time being.
At any rate, I think that the documentary says a lot about what it is to create media in a queer subculture. It is important to look at who the filmmaker is, what their slant may be. It is also important to look at what tidbits the filmmaker includes.
I think that by including the two tidbits I included above speak to this. It seems to me that in trans culture, the idea of passing fully is sometimes what it takes to be considered â€śreal.â€? Yet, I know that Susan Stryker, in her â€śFrankensteinâ€? piece, points out the problem with gender and this idea that you have to identify with one side of the binary to be complete.
The goal of the film, in my perspective, was to empathies with the exclusion of transsexual persons, to tell the story of Robertâ€™s ironic form of cancer, to show transgender persons as human, to show the social difficulties that prevented Robert from receiving treatment, among other things.
I wonder, though, if the juxtaposition of Lola and Robert meant something in the eyes of the filmmaker. The fact that Lola is shown, not fully transitioned, next to Robert, who probably couldnâ€™t pass as a woman if he dressed in drag is very pertinent in my opinion. I see that as a forerunning piece of the film, and trans culture, from the little I know without actually experiencing it.
I just think it is something to think about here. The eye of the filmmaker is so important. What the filmmaker chooses to empathize with affects what the viewer empathizes withâ€¦