Halberstam, "The Transgender Look"


Please use the following questions to guide your reading and notes on Halberstam's view on the filmic gaze:

1. How does Halberstam's analysis differ from Mulvey's? How does Halberstam view the transgender look?
2. Can you think of examples where this look operates in other movies/media?
3. Does Halberstam see possibility in what she calls the transgender look? What do you think of this argument?


I found the term "travsvestism" (pg. 86) to spark some curiosity while reading Halberstam's critics on Mulvey's piece from Monday. Halberstam calls the act a way it which a cross-dressed look allows a female spectator to image momentarily that she has the same access to power as the male viewer does in the film. It is stated that the popularity of such film increases due to a common fantasy of disputing normal gender roles without challenging sexual difference. What makes these types of films so intriguing to audiences, yet, it has not become mainstream to see in Hollywood today?

Halberstam states that "The success of Boys Don't Cry in cultivating an audience beyond the queer cinema circuit depends absolutely on its ability to hijack the male and female gazes, and replace them surreptitiously with transgender modes of looking and queer forms of visual pleasure". Has this new mainstream visual pleasure in media, the transgender gaze, help those who might be curious about their sexuality? Does it have any concequences good or bad and what does it say about gender norms?

I see possibility in the the creation of an image of queerness as being "universal." However, I question whether there is true context for this image, and if not, then is the image ultimately unnatural, despite its accomplishment on screen? The social possibility that I see in images and narratives like in By Hook or by Crook, is that over time ideologies like this, that exist in the alternative realm, will make their way into the mainstream.

I have not seen any of the movies she talks about in her article so it was kind of hard to understand. Halberstam's mentions the many techniques(tactics/camera) angles use by producers to get a better understanding of a transgender character. My question is when we are watching these kind of movie does these tactics work for us to help better understand the transgender character?

This may make me seem dense but im having a hard time figuring out what exactly this trangendred gaze is. Especially in relation to the time and space aspect mentioned early in the text on page 186. The author writes about how in Boys don't cry they needed to operate under "queer time and constructs" and states that a "dilemma for these characters if to create an alternate future while rewriting history." Now maybe I really am just being dim but Are there any recent example that help to make this more clear?

After reading The Transgender Look, I found it interesting how Halberstam describes the different camera techniques found in films that feature transgender characters and how it is different from what Mulvey talked about in her piece. The biggest question I had though, when finished with the reading is one that has already been addressed and that is is Halberstam talks about a recent explosion in transgender films, but I don't feel like the "explosion" lasted very long. The films she mentions are form before 2000, and I'm curious why people think transgender films and the types of camera techniques they use have not become part of the mainstream yet.

In The Transgender Look, Halberstam states that "transvestism- a cross-dressed look that allows the female spectator to imagine momentarily that she has the same access to power as the male viewer". I thought that this was very interesting because on Monday, we spoke of how the "Male Gaze" was so prominent in today's media; that even when they try to make it a "Woman's Gaze" we're still looking at the "Male Gaze" because that is whats appealing now. I agree with this, as weird as it is. In a twisted way, and as a woman, we only view the "Male Gaze," and now we're influenced only my the scenes and gazes that confront us. She mentions that women feel that they have the same access to power, this i can't put my finger on. Does this mean that we feel dominant watching men dominate?

After reading this article I have a really simple question. With films that show transgendered bodies, I want to know how the "general public" view transgendered bodies. How are we all redefining what 'normal' is and will films continue to show this viewpoint?

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This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on March 11, 2013 10:07 AM.

Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" was the previous entry in this blog.

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