Review: Disclosure Educates Us About Transgender Issues

Documentaries used to be something that people would just put on in the background while they completed chores or relaxed with friends, but not anymore. Recently, they have garnered a wide audience by becoming slicker and far more intriguing. Especially Netflix documentaries, because they are known for being not just factual but also educational and engrossing. And ‘Disclosure’ is no different.

For the transgender community, it has been a very notable, scary, and yet hopeful Pride Month, one that is seeing visible change all across the country. So, ‘Disclosure’ could not have been released at a better time.

Disclosure: Plot Summary

Told from the mouths of transgender people themselves, ‘Disclosure’ or ‘Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen’ gives us a look at Hollywood’s depiction of their community through the ages. It reveals the impact their representation has had on American culture along with how that has led to the way they are treated nowadays. It gives us a fascinating narrative that depicts the dynamic interplay between trans representation on screen, the society’s beliefs, and the reality of trans lives.

Disclosure: Review

This ambitious documentary, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival is directed by Sam Fender. It presents a comprehensive discussion of transgender representation – and misrepresentation – in Hollywood and will definitely give way to further discussions and genuine depictions. And why is that important? Because it’s high time. And one of the most important things we can do is look back on our history and learn from the mistakes previously made so as to understand trans people better and support them in every way possible.

In this documentary, leading transgender representatives in today’s world, including Laverne Cox, Jen Richards, Nick Adams, Yance Ford, Zeke Smith, Lilly Wachowski, Candis Cayne, Michael D. Cohen, and Jamie Clayton, offer an unprecedented and eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television in some of the most beloved moments in cinematic history. They re-frame the scenes and characters in a new light and tell us how the once-loved moments now bring out new feelings.

‘Disclosure’ sifts through trans portrayals in different movies and series’ going as far back as 1914 with ‘A Florida Enchantment.’ Other movies that they talk about are ‘Psycho,’ ‘Dressed to Kill,’ ‘The Crying Game,’ ‘Boys Don’t Cry,’ and ‘Pose.’ It effectively frames these and so many others to talk about the emotional impact they had – for better or for worse – on them and on our mental state and how we view what’s “right” and “wrong.” It opens up about the damaging stereotypes that the media has engraved in our minds. From trans people being thought of as a joke, to their transitioning ways, to them being considered perverts who are queer for the sake of being queer, there is a lot that we need to unlearn.

According to a GLAAD study, more than 80% of Americans don’t personally know someone who is transgender, so most of the information comes from the media and their perception. Which is not at all safe, not just for the people who hope to by ally’s but especially, also for the ones who are questioning their own being. With most of the roles that trans people have previously gotten having predominantly been sex workers, rape and murder victims, psychotic killers, or unhinged villains, more roles, higher visibility, and reliable information is obviously required.

Yes, trans visibility in the current cinematic industry is at an all-time high, but that doesn’t mean that it’s enough. Because all the new representation now is being mixed with the old ideas and thoughts, so, there needs to be a lot more education and information for the marginalized community to actually be seen and feel safe. And ‘Disclosure’ takes one step towards achieving that goal. The enlightening documentary shows us where we went wrong in the past and gives us an opportunity to do right by them in the future.


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