Edited volume: “Trans Identities in the French media”
As a preamble to this call for abstracts, we want to specify that we are using the terms “transgender” and “trans identities” as umbrella terms for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Our use of “transgender” or “trans identities” thus encompasses a variety of experiences within and outside the gender binary, and a range of expressions, as trans individuals pursue many different options (medical changes, clothing, make-up, etc.) to bring their appearances into alignment with their gender identity, or may choose not to.
“Transsexualité, transidentité: un tabou français?” (“Transsexuality, transidentity: a French taboo?”): such was the title chosen by the online French news magazine France Info for an article published in 2015 that discussed the lack of visibility and biases transgender people still experience in French society. Indeed, the production of images and narratives about transgender people in a French context is a complex process that demands to be further analyzed. On the one hand, there has been an increasing visibility of trans individuals in film and TV in recent years. TV documentaries such as Devenir il ou elle (Lorène Debaisieux, 2017) and Être fille ou garçon: Le Dilemme des transgenres (Clarisse Verrier, 2017) follow the lives of adolescents as they transition into their authentic gender; director Sébastien Lifshitz dedicated a documentary to one of France’s first individuals to have undergone gender confirmation surgery with Bambi (2013), and he hired a transgender actress to play the main character in his film Wild Side (2004). However, transgender actors and actresses still remain painfully underrepresented in the French media, with most transgender characters being played by cisgender actors or actresses (Vincent Perez in Ceux qui m’aiment prendront le train (1998), Fanny Ardant in Lola Pater(2017), Claire Nebout in the short-lived TV series Louis(e) (2017), to name a few). From a societal perspective, the fact remains that the number of transphobic acts in France has continued to increase over the past years. Moreover, the predominance of the French nation state weighs heavily on the recognition of trans identities in order to produce a narrative that avoids any kind of communautarisme, such that trans identities are integrated within the republican values of the country to appear less “frightening” to the general public. As noted by Todd W. Reeser, this has a direct impact on the way trans identities are portrayed in the media: “in journalistic prose, trans narratives, documentaries, and TV programs, transgender subjects are frequently defined through nation-based discourses, institutions, and state-sanctioned forms of power […]” (Reeser, 4). Continuer la lecture de Appel à propositions : Trans Identities in the French media