Movie #232 2020: Disclosure (2020)

Though Pride Month was slightly muted this year – and rightly so – by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, I felt as though I should educate myself a little further on the T segment of the LGBTQ+ acronym. As a proud gay woman who looked on at J.K. Rowling‘s hideous twitter comments in disgust, I felt it was my duty to do something more, and that’s why I’ve decided to start donating monthly to GIRES once this period of furlough is over. GIRES is a UK trans charity that gives a voice to trans and non-gender conforming people across the country, and looks to improve the lives of those who fall under that bracket.

Disclosure takes a specific look at the representation of trans people over the years, specifically through the medium of film and television. Starting way back in the early days of film and Old Hollywood, the documentary acts almost as a history lesson to the viewer, aiming to educate and inform people of trans history on screen, and what can be done in the future to ensure more trans voices are heard.

It’s 👏🏻 about 👏🏻 time 👏🏻 that someone made a documentary about on this topic and the absolutely abhorrent behaviour that the trans community still has to endure today. The importance of this film is paramount, there’s no doubt about it. It seems as though some transfolk are a little frustrated that this doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s definitely a good place to start if you want a little insight into the thoughts and feelings of some well-known transgender actors.

Like so many documentaries of this type, the people who need to see this the most won’t give it the time of day. It’s a shame that those people who need to see it won’t, but it really highlights the fact that simply having trans characters on screen isn’t enough anymore. This documentary really shows the necessity of treating trans characters with respect and dignity and the fact that they are whole people with emotions, that they are not just their bodies, and are simply as human as anybody else. 

When you think about it logically, this argument is not dissimilar to the fight for female equality on screen and the fact that old Hollywood movies are saturated with women who were used as ‘eye candy’ rather than giving them any substantial heft within a film. What Disclosure does is make the link between the Trans Rights Movement and the Feminism Movement, stating that they are one and the same in regards to equality. Of course, the fight for women – both biological female and trans female – is far from over, and if anything, this documentary just reinforces the idea that if the cisgender woman does not recognise the trans woman as intrinsically as female as she is (*cough* J.K. Rowling) then we will never truly see an equal playing field in the media, or indeed, the world.

Technically speaking, Laverne Cox is the glue that holds this whole thing together. She’s well spoken, articulate, and incredibly smart; just what you need in a narrator of sorts. There are interviews with many other highly recognised trans personalities too, including ex-Survivor contestant Zeke Smith and some of the cast of FX’s mega-hit series Pose, all of whom provide compelling arguments and put forth something to think about consistently throughout the film.

On that note, it is without doubt that Disclosure puts forward as comprehensive a discussion as Ava DuVernay’s 13th. Watch it. Watch it and let it make you angry. Why can’t trans people just BE? At last there is hope. (Sidebar: Watch Pose too if you want to go that extra mile.)

Anyway, whilst we’re here, I’ll leave you with this: Black lives matter. Black trans lives matter. And fuck J.K. Rowling. 

Disclosure is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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