Mabz Beet: Changing Trans Representation on Screen

For decades in film and television, transgender people were often portrayed as villains with their gender identity used as a way of making them appear crazy and unstable. These days, trans people have been reduced to the butt of a joke in comedies. The reveal that a trans woman is “actually a man” has often been used to get cheap laughs from audiences who have little to no understanding of transgender people.

Trans people are often objectified by the media (particularly news reports and documentaries) with particular emphasis placed on their surgery. This often leads to trans people appearing as abnormal or “other.” As a transgender person, I use filmmaking to depict the lives of transgender people in a positive light and show society that we are just like everyone else. I particularly want to make films that portray transgender people without sensationalising their gender identity. Too often, stories about transgender people focus mainly on the fact they are transgender.

In our film, Skeleton in a Beret, we try to combat these negative and sensationalist portrayals of transgender people by showing our trans women discussing video gaming in a positive and open manner. The aim is to combat negative stereotypes by depicting trans women discussing a pop culture topic that many people, both cisgender and transgender, are interested. We felt that it was important to make a film that was about people, rather than trans women specifically, discussing the exploration of identity in video games. People across the world, from diverse backgrounds, have turned to video games as a ways of exploring their identities and playing with their gender expression. The purpose of this film is to make you feel as though these two transgender women could be from any identity or background. Underneath our differences, we can share the same interests, desires and goals.

At the end of the day we are all human beings.

In Mabz Beet’s film Skeleton in a Beret, two trans people talk about how they have actively used videogames as part of how they explore, not just their gender, but their skills, self-confidence, and self-expression. It will screen at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival as part of the SQIFF Shorts: Look at Me at the CCA on 1st October 2017. Tickets are priced on a sliding scale, from Free – £8 in £2 increments. A guide to the sliding scale can be found here.

See here for more information on access measures in place for SQIFF 2017. If you have any questions about the content of films or events or about accessibility at the Festival, please contact [email protected]. We are continually working to improve our access measures and welcome any feedback. 

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