Videographic Narrative Construction in Trans Communities

I… really didn’t know what to write today.

So instead of writing something new I’m going to post a little blurb I did for an annotated bibliography I had to write in a medical anthropology class last year. It’s… not my favourite thing I’ve ever written, but the group project that eventually came out of it was really neat so it holds a special place in my heart.

A note: I don’t think more visibility is better visibility. I do think better visibility will likely lead to better understanding, however. Looking back on this, I’m really unsure if I was successful in explaining that as my position.

I mostly just want cis people to stop thinking they know what’s best for trans people.

Disconnect within trans embodied experience (Serano 2007) may be reified through a narrative construction of temporal events—otherwise known as the fabula (Rimmon-Kenan 2006). This may be best expressed through the formal composition—or sjuzet—of a personal video blog (Dame 2013) or as ethnographic film (Coover 2007, Wesley 2013). The dangers of ethnography within trans communities may be expressed through further dissonance of experience as the ethnographer may not have the tools to gather enough information about the community (Vernon 2013), or they may not be prepared to interpret that information within the framework of the culture being studied (DasGupta 2006). This disconnect between the trans narrative and the ethnographic product may be seen as supporting the “reality” of the trans experience as the disconnect between lens/embodiment of experience mirrors the disconnect between assigned sex/embodiment of experience and allows for better emotional understanding of the narrative (Mathew 2014). Unfortunately this emotional connection may come at the cost of additional “holes” in the fabula resulting in removal of representation of racial/ethnic minorities from the narrative (DeVere Brody 2002), many of whom are already in at–risk socio–economic positions disallowing for access to medical information regarding gender–variance (Bodie et al. 2008, Vernon 2013). As a result of this lack of information trans people who are in need of medical attention may be unable to find medical practitioners who are sympathetic to their identity unless they commit what are seen by practitioners as lies of omission (DasGupta 2006, Herndon 2011). With further representation of trans embodied experience through accessible narrative channels—such as that of film—a better understanding of trans communities and their difficulties may be reached.

Bibliography [1]

Bodie, Graham D. and Basu, Ambar and Dutta, Mohan J.
2008 Health Disparity and the Racial Divide among the Nation’s Youth: Internet as a Site for Change? In Learning Race and Ethnicity. Anna Everett, eds. Pp. 175–197. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Coover, Roderick, dir.
2007 From Vérité to Virtual: Conversations on the Frontier of Film and Anthropology. 58 min. Documentary Educational Resources. Watertown, MA.

Dame, Avery P.
2013 “I’m Your Hero? Like Me?” The Role of ‘Expert’ in the Trans Male Vlog. Journal of Language and Sexuality 2(1):40–69.

DasGupta, Sayantani
2006 Being John Doe Malkovich: Truth, Imagination, and Story in Medicine. Literature and Medicine 25(2):439–462.

DeVere Brody, Jennifer
2002 Boyz Do Cry: Screening History’s White Lies. Screen 43(1):91–96.

Herndon, April M.
2011 Transgender/Transsexual Healthcare: Southern Comfort. In The Picture of Health: Medical Ethics and the Movies. Henri Colt and Lester Friedman and Silvia Quadrelli, eds. Pp. 368–371. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mathew, Wesley.
2014 Reality in Ethnographic Film: Documentary vs. Docudrama. Theme issue, “Reflections on the Lens,” Visual Anthropology 27(1–2):17–24.

Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith
2006 What Can Narrative Theory Learn from Illness Narratives? Literature and Medicine 25(2):241–254.

Serano, Julia.
2007 Coming to Terms with Transgenderism and Transexuality. In Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Pp. 23–34 Emeryville: Seal Press.

Vernon, Rosario A.
2013 Studs, Stems, and Fishy Boys: Adolescent Latino Gender Variance and the Slippery Diagnosis of Transsexuality. In Transgender Experience: Place, Ethnicity, and Visibility. David Coad and Chantal Zabus, eds. Pp. 51–67. New York: Routledge.


[1] Uh… ignore the weird formatting of this bilbiography… I think AAA Style was still A Thing when I made my table…

This post was absolutely not prompted by today’s Daily Prompt: Transformation, but it fits so I’m pinging back anyways.

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