Although Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to embracing transgender films and actors, there have been quite a few transgender movies that have managed to make it into the mainstream. While most of these transgender films aim to show what life is like for someone who is transgendered and society’s response to trans-sexuality, they tell diverse stories of transgender life. From a Midwestern father and husband who decides to live the rest of his life as a woman to a man who is brutalized after his sexual identity is discovered, these films have helped pave the way for transgender movies and other types of LGBT cinema. Check out these transgender films at your local Redbox and find mature LGBT films at Adam & Eve.
Produced by HBO Films in 2003, Normal tells the story of Roy Applewood, a married factory worker who, after 25 years of marriage, decides to live the rest of his life as a woman named Ruth. Jane Anderson wrote and directed the movie, which was adapted from her play “Looking for Normal,” was an official selection at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and received great accolades and numerous award nominations. As one of the first major Hollywood films dealing with trans-sexuality within a typical American family, “Normal” sets out to show how trans-sexuality can affect everyone, including the average “normal” Midwestern family.
Transamerica, staring Felicity Huffman won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal as Bree, a transsexual woman on the brink of sexual reassignment surgery whose life is thrown into turmoil after she receives a call from her long lost son in jail. Although the film highlights the final stages of Bree’s sexual journey to womanhood, the main focus of the movie centers on her relationship with her son and her estrangement from her family. Not only did Transamerica receive positive reviews from critics, it also garnered praise within mainstream media and was a box office success, raking in more than $15 million.
A Belgian drama directed by Alain Berliner, Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink) tells the story of Ludovic—a young boy who insists to his family and community that he is really a girl. As one of the first “Hollywood” films to take on trans-sexuality, Ma Vie En Rose, explores trans-phobia as it shows Ludovic and his family struggling with his sexuality and the community’s response to his desire to be a girl. Although, Ma Vie En Rose, won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, the film itself encountered a trans-phobic response from Hollywood, receiving an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America although it has minimal sexual content, violence, and mild language.
In Neil Jordan’s 1992 psychological thriller, The Crying Game, the topic of trans-sexuality is explored through a dramatic, romantic, and dark tale of secrets and lies. Although the main character’s sexuality is a major part of this movie, the film also focuses on race and politics. While this film was way ahead of its time, The Crying Game, received glowing reviews, as well as six Academy Award nominations, including a win for best original screenplay
Based on a true story, Boys Don’t Cry, details the brief life of, Brandon Teena, a troubled young person who was viciously murdered for hiding their sexual identity. At the time of its 1999 release, the film was viewed as controversial due to its horrifying images of Brandon’s brutal rape, beating, and murder. Besides its explicit depiction of Brandon’s death, the film is also uninhibited in its portrayal of Brandon’s lifestyle as a transgender male. Although the film did moderately well at box offices, Hilary Swank, who plays Brandon, won a Best Actress Oscar for her role.