Dawn of the Dead: Transphobic?

| Jan 12, 2009
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I’d seen it at least a dozen times already, most recently around Halloween, but something put me in the mood to watch Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead again last night. (It could be all those previews for Zach Snyder’s Watchmen I’ve been seeing.) For whatever reason, one scene really stuck out, and I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on it before.

Dawn of the Dead is the zombie movie where the cast is stuck in a mall. There’s lots of blood, guns, blood, chainsaws, blood, and violence. Like any ensemble cast, there’s the stock characters: the streetwise cop, the tough nurse, the rich jerk, the young hottie, and the gay church organist. (Although I think we should refer to him as a gay organ player. No. Wait. That sounds worse. How about we just call him by his character’s name: Glen.)

There’s a music montage showing the characters settling in to their new lives within the mall. The cop plays chess. The hottie practices wearing lingerie. The jerk bangs the hottie in the electronics store, with a video camera and big screen tv. And Glen tries on high heels.

Well, since Glen is gay, he must obviously be a crossdresser, right? That seems to be the message we’re supposed to get. The only other character development we get for him, is a scene where he talks about growing up gay, to a very unappreciative, captive audience.

Any of these zombies in heels?

Any of these zombies in heels?

Glen’s a simple stereotype, and apparently to flesh him out, the filmmakers had to underline the fact he was gay by having him try on a pair of heels. (They weren’t even particularly nice heels either.) At first, I was a little bothered by this. Mostly because it never occurred to me before, but also because it was such a cheap shortcut to try to breathe life into Glen.

Not all crossdressers are gay, and not all gays are crossdressers. And the automatic assumption that we are one and the same bothers a lot of people. I suspect it’s at the root of a lot of distrust within the community at large, and perhaps explains why there was such a blow-up over ENDA and GENDA.

So why does Hollywood feel the need to constantly tie us together?

But then it hit me. Because some crossdressers are gay. And some gays crossdress. Who’s to say Glen wasn’t a gay man who did drag at some point in his life? Or wanted to? And now, faced with the end of the world, where society’s approval doesn’t mean a thing, because there is no society, he may be asking himself, “why not try something new?”

Away from the movie, and into the real world, think of how many transgender people you know, or have seen online, who like to “play” with other t-girls? There is no shortage of crossdressers and even non-op transsexuals who have, or are looking for boyfriends/husbands.

And even if you’re a MtF crossdresser who’s only into women: let’s face it, that’s lesbianism, and that too falls under the banner of “gay”.

Coming from the other direction, if you’ve been to a drag show lately, you may have seen some of the performers with implants or other surgical alterations. What was once the province of gay men is now becoming more of a grey area, with that line of who is/who isn’t transgendered less defined.

So, then can someone explain to me why there’s so much dislike of gays and lesbians and bisexuals within the trans-community? By not supporting gay rights, you’re not supporting your friends, your sisters.

And until gay men and women have respect from the straight world, we won’t have it either.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Ronnie Rho has been writing for Transgender Forum since May of 1999. One of these days, she'll get it right. She's been described as the "world's most famous recluse," but only by people who don't know her very well. She is unmarried, and lives in Cincinnati.

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