Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (2020)

Directed by Sam Feder
Running time 1h 40m
Core concepts this week

trans representation


documentary modes

participatory mode

View on Netflix

Film background and summary

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen is a 2020 documentary directed by Sam Feder. It features interviews with many transgender actors, writers and producers, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Zackary Drucker, Jen Richards, MJ Rodriguez, Ser Anzoategui, and many others. The film uses extensive footage from film and television over the last 100 years to examine the history of trans representation on screen, and interviews trans members of the film industry about their experiences as actors, creators, and spectators. Much of the film focuses on how audiences–both trans and cis–are often impacted by the portrayals of trans people they see in film. Some films addressed in the documentary include Paris is Burning, The Crying Game, Boys Don’t Cry, Psycho, Ma Vie En Rose, and The Matrix, among many others. Some television series discussed include Transparent, Pose, Nip/Tuck, and the genres of daytime talk shows, police shows and hospital shows. Topics include cis casting of trans roles, historical stereotypes, appropriation, and trans visibility.

Content warnings

Disclosure contains many brief clips of other films that include nudity, sexuality, references to sex work, transphobia and violence.

Materials for this week

  • Lesson plans [Word doc]
  • Screening quiz [Word doc]
  • Film screening notes handout (same as units 1, 2, and 4) [Word doc]
  • Film studies vocabulary handout (same as units 1, 2 and 4) [Word doc]
  • Secondary texts:
    • Day 2: Aufderheide, Patricia. Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. (Excerpt provided: Chapter 1: “Defining the documentary”, pp. 1-19) [pdf]
    • Day 3: Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Indiana UP, 2017. (Excerpt provided: pp. 104-109; 137-149) [pdf]

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