On November 23, Doc Films held a free advanced screening of The Danish Girl, a movie about Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Queers United In Power (QUIP) called for a cancellation and, later, boycott of the showing. In response, Doc Films announced a post-screening discussion of the film led by QUIP members.
The film initially received a negative response from QUIP because of its decision to cast Eddie Redmayne, a cisgender man as Elbe.
“This is disturbing and unacceptable...this helps perpetuate the transmisogynistic stereotype that trans women are simply ‘men in dresses,’” wrote a QUIP statement posted to the Doc Films Facebook page.
According to QUIP, the film exploits the trans narrative to generate publicity and notoriety for economic purposes at the expense of trans women.
The statement continued, “They care far more about exploiting trans narratives for their own financial and Oscar-baiting purposes than they do about the actual lives and experiences of trans women.”
QUIP asked Doc Films to cancel the screening and urged people to boycott the screening on Doc Films’ Facebook page for the event.
“We strongly urge them to cancel the screening as soon as possible.... If this does not occur...we call on all...allies, friends, or supporters of trans people to instead boycott the movie,” the statement read.
In a response on its Facebook page, Doc Films said, “Doc Films would like to apologize to any students made uncomfortable by our screening as we now understand the exploitative and transmisogynistic nature of the film.... While we are unable to cancel our screening, we have discussed this with QUIP and they have offered to hold a post-screening discussion of the film.”
During the discussion, two QUIP members plus about 10 student and nonstudent members of the audience stated a variety of issues with the film. They discussed in detail their frustration at seeing a non-transgender actor portraying a trans woman. Some hoped the fame of the actor would lead to larger audiences that would generate more awareness of the Elbe and her significance to the trans community. Others believed there was a logical inconsistency in insinuating a cis male was better suited than a trans woman for the role.
They also commented about how they believed the movie focused too much on the clichés of the trans narrative and emphasized Elbe’s preoccupation with female clothing.
The discussion ended on a positive note with hopes that this film would bring about much needed discussion about the lives of trans men, women, and gender nonconforming people. QUIP also encouraged students to support the trans community by attending the screening of the movie Tangerine on December 5 and 6, a movie featuring multiple trans actresses playing trans women with input from trans people at many levels of production.