Monday, June 7, 2010

Selection of Trans-Positive Films in Film Festivals

Bringing a film to a film festival is not necessarily such a hard thing to do, other than meeting the criteria for entry and of course, having the artistic merit. As St. Louis Q-Fest 2010 was about to begin, the rather salacious and trans-exploitative film by Israel Luna was being prepared for its debut at the Tribeca International Film Festival in New York City. While I had previously looked at Q-Fest's line up here in St. Louis and saw there was no 'Transgender-related' offering, I did note to myself 'maybe next year' and then actually had a sigh of relief, as I did prefer not having to address such an issue such as 'TO#WK' rather than have just 'anything' offered up to settle the inclusive mindset that I possess.

In the course of watching many films where there is a transgender individual portrayed, I have come across any number of the scenarios where it is exploitative in any sense of the word or the person is portrayed in a 'down-on-the luck' scenario and rarely if ever is the transgender portrayed as successful or as a well-educated or 'tech' person. As we all know (and if you don't, I suggest some rather high intensity, remedial reading over at 'Wiki') the transgender individual is no less smarter, no less intellectual than most anyone else. Yet most films will dwell upon something else thus perpetuating the myth that 'gender identity disorder' is an impairment or psychosis of the brain function.

So with the possibility of TO#WK being brought to town, I contacted the Artistic Director of Cinema St Louis, which produces the St Louis International Film Festival ((SLIFF) and we began to look at bringing the film “Paulista” to SLIFF this year. After a copy of 'Paulista' was obtained by SLIFF, we sat down for a acceptance screening and it was indeed accepted and will be shown at the Festival here in St. Louis, in November. What follows, is my estimation of what it takes to bring a good film to a festival. Note: I am writing this from a 'Transgender aspect, it should apply in most any case.

1. Know the film, either through reviews by a reputable film critic or through reviews coming from other transgender folks who have seen it at other festivals. There's no point in bringing in a film you don't like yourself. And the first thing the selection committee / Artistic Director will be looking for is credible artistic value. Don't waste their time.

2. Determine the criteria from which selections will be chosen: Remember, most film festivals will not bring in a film that has been previously fully released to the public and/or available for sale on DVD or Blu-Ray.

3. Establish contact and meet with the Festival's Artistic director / Selection Committee: Explain why a marginalizing / exploitative film is damaging / dehumanizing to the Transgender Community and hurtful to the entire Community as a whole. Then explain why a trans-positive film is needed in a film festival, including the need for Transgender representation in the festival.

4. Ask to attend the acceptance screening of the film: While many films may seem innocuous simply by title or summary, there still may be that one little bit that is unacceptable as far the point you are trying to make. Remember, you are representing the Transgender Community. Also, you will be able to have a feel of what the 'age-level' will be for those “Not Rated” films, with regard to vulgar language and sexual situations. Remember that vulgarity and sexual situations are quite acceptable in a film if it isn't being used to titillate or becomes the main feature of the film. Be prepared to answer questions as to why the film is acceptable to the Trans Community

5. Is there a person, group, organization or business willing to financially sponsor the film?: Many festivals are produced and run by non-profit organizations and there is a cost to bring in the film, promote, advertise and show the film. Having a sponsor no doubt makes it attractive to the festival, but do yet remember, the film itself must pass other success criteria.

Revlon Robyn (aka Robyn Carolyn Montague)
for TOXIC Ticked off Tra**ies With Knives Clearinghouse
June 7, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Transitory Stay In A Roman Catholic Hospital

Having not sustained a major illness, condition or injury since transitioning, being admitted to a hospital since then was not only a new experience, but also offered me the opportunity to 'rate' a major medical facility in the St Louis area for friendliness to the Transgender Community. I must admit that I had a small fear of issues and went to the ER with a bit of not only reluctance, but also ready to battle.

I went to St John's Mercy Medical Center on New Ballas as it not only is the hospital of my Primary Care Physician but also is owned by the same Sisters of Mercy religious organization that owns the health insurance plan that underwrites my Medicare Advantage plan through my pre-retirement employer. With that in mind, I not only went to a hospital, but also one owned through ties to the Roman Catholic Church.

Basically everthing went smoothly, yet not without anticipating a few pronoun problems. The first three people I dealt with in the ER, to register, to assist me in my mobility and the first level of caregiving , call me with male pronouns. In each case, I immediately responded to the "Sirs" with "Ma'am" and in each case, the party acknowledged that and immeadiately corrected themselves and apologized. Do note, I was wearing a nice, flowered summer dress, so there should not have had been that problem, per se, but I did give them the benefit of the doubt and did not crucify them for their blatant errors.

In my room, I did not have that problem at all. To begin with, they placed me in a private room. My thought was at first, that this was their solution to an issue not knoiwing what to do, or simply because I was in the Heart Hospital section and they do tend to place people by themselves due to the extra level of care and the isolation from catching things from others. One thought though is that they have actually have a 'sensitivity policy' in place and this placement of a transgender person separately is their rule of thumb. One other note that I wish to make is that on the worksheet form for ER treatment, for gender I crossed out "Female" and wrote down and circled "Trans Female," as sort of a 'heads up' to them as how I wished to be treated and handled as female.

All of the nurses, who were (cisgender) female, male, Anglo, African-American, Pacific Islander treated me with respect and as female. There were no questions of my medications, those for my heart issues, for diabetes and my hormone replacement therapy and each were dispensed without question. Privacy issues such as attaching montior electrodes, in which exposure of my breasts was required, was done in decorum and as a matter of medical necessity, ie no gawking or snide looks in any of these ocassions. Any time that I was transported out of my room, I was certain to be covered so that my privacy and dignity was respected.

In conclusion, I found St John's quite friendly and understanding of the transgender patient. There was a moment of confusion by the nun that came into the room expecting to see a cisgender woman, but she recovered admirily and in her quick chat, did not use the moment to chastise or lecture. Yes, there were a couple of quick glances one might suspect unfriendly, but I also saw their quick return to a thought of professionalism within the confines of the hospital, that the purpose of thier mission was to heal and not to hate.

Not having stayed in a hospital after transitioning, before, and considering the dogma behind the organizations running St John's, I definitely will give them a gold star with an additional A+ for effort.

Robyn Carolyn Montague
June 4, 2010