X-Men & The Trans Community

 

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From the comics I read as a kid, to the nineties Fox cartoon and then the X-Men film franchise that has been running for the last twenty years they have been there. At college we use to go to the local chip shop during dinner and play on the arcade game there. I was always Nightcrawler, my favourite at the time. (Well there was also Wolverine but my mate was always him)
Wolverine can of course be considered one of the most popular of the X-men. Hugh Jackman has played him superbly in the franchise with three solo movies and a number of cameos. But for me it’s a team thing. The comics, the series, even the X-Men games I still have for the Playstation it’s a group. Cyclopes, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Beast. Just a few of my favourites.

Now since starting this blog I’ve written a few posts on heroes. From the role models I’ve had over the years such as He-man and Spiderman to looking at Batman, Supergirl and the themes of identity. The X-men then also provide a personal meaning to me. They are a minority group. Created in the sixties it seems obvious that Stan Lee took themes from the racist attitudes that existed. They became metaphoric for people who were treated different because they were different. A theme still relevant in the eighties and nineties with homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. A theme still relevant now because of the issues with Trans people.

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Let’s take a look at the X-men or more precisely the mutant community. Outcasts, feared for being different and not fitting into what people consider the norm. Many of these mutants don’t have the great powers of the X-men or their enemies. Their mutation may be just something small. A little bit different in their identity and all they want to do is try and live a normal life, try to fit in with society.
This is what most Trans people want. When people shout about Trans women using women’s toilet the argument always have someone say ‘Why not have separate toilets for trans women.’ Well apart from the impracticalities, such as establishments having to fit an extra toilet area, the fact remains it marks someone out as different.

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A Trans woman is a woman, a mantra often repeated by many but with good reason. They don’t want to be seen as something different. They are just trying to get on with their lives as the person they are. They just want to go for a pee. There shouldn’t be any reason why they should have to enter through a door marked just for them, a door that advertises to those around that this person is different. A talking point. Someone to stop and stare at. A person who is now open to attack and ridicule. The toilet might as well just have a big flashing sign across the top. What this separate toilet does is force that person to identify themselves just because they need to pee.

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Ok, mini rant over but we’ll be coming back to identity later. On Twitter it is almost like there is a war going on. Trans people and their allies one side. Cis people and allies on the other. Arguing over rights, safety, respect or even the meaning of words. It’s the same as the world of the X-men. A minority group fighting for their rights, sometime to even exist, in the world and the other side against them. Or even just confused by it. In X-men 2 there is a scene where Iceman’s mother uses the line “Have you tried not being a mutant?” It’s a line that has been used against both homosexuals and Trans people. A mistaken belief that it is a choice. Something that can be turned off.
And like the world of the X-men there are different factions. Many are those just trying to live. Others are more outspoken, activists who like the X-men put themselves out there to fight and be visible. Munroe Berkoff, Paris Lee, Dr Rachel McKinnon. Sadly there are others as well who are more like Magneto’s team, willing to use violence (speech) to achieve their aims. The more extremist side. But the same goes for the other side. Many of those fighting against Trans people are just people with concerns about safety, fairness and loss of rights. There is misinformation and there is fear. But there is a few that are more hateful. Rather like the Mutant Liberation Front they don’t think Trans people should exist or if they do they should be segregated from the rest of society. And rather like scenes we’ve seen in those comics, movies and cartoons there are those who would use violence against individuals. Who are quite proud to announce on social media about what they would do if they came across a Trans person. It’s a scary world out there. To think there are people out there who I’ve never met, never spoken to who hate me for who I am and would beat the shit out of me if they came across me.
I’ve seen posts that advocates for Trans people to have to wear a symbol to mark them out in society. Even for there to be a registration. An idea I pointed out at the time was similar to the X-men.

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It’s here that we can return to the point about identity. Why do Trans people need to wear something to mark them out? Why is it important for people to be able to recognise them in the street? There is only one answer and it’s because they are seen as wrong. They are seen as dangerous. “Oh right, yeah you can exist as a woman but we need to know you were born male.” Is it so you can stop your children conversing with someone Trans? Is it so you know not to walk on the same side of the street? Does it matter that such a move would identity Trans people out to the more extreme elements of society, resulting in bulling, beatings and possibly death. Where is the concern for safety now?
The only thing such actions such as separate toilets and wearing symbols does is it makes it easier for people to identify. There has already been cases where women have been accosted in restrooms by people who believe they are trans. A woman accused of sexual assault in America resulted in some on Twitter pointing her out as Trans. When I argued what evidence they had for this the reply was “My eyes, she looks like a man.” Even Kira Knightly has come under scrutiny with some believing she is secretly Trans because of the way she is built. Fear and hatred allow such things to happen.
These themes in the X-men comics have been going for fifty years, I’m hoping it doesn’t take fifty years before Trans people are allowed to live in relative peace. Hopefully we can find a common ground. A way to provide safety where needed for both sides while allowing Trans people to live the way they want. It’ll never be perfect. Last year (2018) a man refused to sit next to a black woman on a plane. Gay couples are still refused rooms in some hotels or cakes made for their wedding. There are still calls for conversion therapy.

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I spoke in the previous blog about how I hope X-men movies still get made and with the wealth of stories out there why there is no reason they couldn’t. One of my ‘favourite’ stories is God Loves, Man Kills’. It’s hard hitting. From the very start two mutant children are killed and strung up just for being different. There is hatred spread throughout. It’s emotional, it’s hard and it deserves a movie version. It ends both on a note of hopefulness, An act of kindness from one human, and a bittersweet note as the fight to exist is only temporary halted before it begins again. The battle won but not the war. A brief respite before the arguments begin again on whether they should be allowed the same basic rights as other human beings.

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For those that are not X-men fans and are more DC then I would recommend the latest season of Supergirl. (Season four) It currently has the same themes although between humans and aliens. There is an obvious parallel with themes of immigration but also those themes of being discriminated against for being different. Given that it now features a Trans woman as a superhero it certainly highlights these themes and out of the four CW series at the moment it’s the one that I’m most into at the moment.

The X-men, Supergirl or any number of super hero stories out there can highlight injustice in the world. Call out hate and bigotry and gives us role models to look up to. But it also has to be said someone doesn’t need to have super powers to make a stand. To give respect to others and fight for peoples right to live in this world.

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Should the X-Men films be rebooted

 

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Recently I was sorting through my superhero DVDs, sorting the MCU films into a chronological order to watch rather than release date. Trying to do the same with my X-men films proved a little bit more problematic.
You have the original trilogy. X-Men, X-Men United and Last Stand. Then Wolverine Origin came out. No problem put that to the front. Then First Class. So far so good. The Days of Future Present? After First Class? After Last Stand? Ok I went for after Last Stand. After all it follows on from The Wolverine which follows on from the events of Last Stand and we see Logan’s actions change future events of Last Stand as well as a few other points. So already we have a soft reboot.
But then came Apocalypse. Were the hell does that go. Obviously before the events of X-men but after Days of Future past which is after Last Stand which no longer really exists. Suddenly I’m starting to get a headache and we’ve not yet gotten to the upcoming Dark Phoenix which seems to be a revamped version of Last Stand.

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Maybe it doesn’t really matter and with Days of Future Past how much of X-Men and X-men reunited were changed. Perhaps those films are now an alternative timeline.
But I have other problems with the franchise. First Class is set in 62. Days in 73, Apocalypse 83 and Dark Phoenix 93. While it’s a sort of cool gimmick jump a ten year gap with each movie with the next instalment set just seven years (or ten) before the first X-men movie and with 30 years pasting since first Class one has to wonder about the characters being portrayed here. Xavier and others don’t seem to age that much especially given that he is supposed to be looking somewhere like Patrick Stewart by now. In fact Wolverine Origins has a Cameo by Stewart’s Xavier and that’s is set in 79. No wonder Deadpool has to question which Xavier Colossus is taking him to see.

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So where I can believe events changed it is more challenging to me to believe the characters I’m now watching are going to become the ones we see in the original movies. Maybe if First Class had been a proper reboot it wouldn’t matter but Days of Future Past sees both versions of characters existing. Of course there could be some artistic licence here. After all in the comics different artists have put their own vision on the characters over the years and yet they have always remained looking similar over the decades.
So now that Disney now owns the rights and that they may want to use characters in the MCU maybe it’s’ time for an X-men reboot somewhere down the line. And it will definitely have to be a reboot. We have already had a Quicksilver in the MCU so as much as I love Evans Peters version it’s hard to see how he can be used. Likewise as much as it would be good to see Wolverine appear, Hugh Jackman has hung up his claws so a recast is required here. However Jackman has become somewhat iconic with the role it’s difficult to vision another actor take the part so soon. But then we’ve had three different Spider-men in the same time period.

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As a recent you tube video recently pointed out introducing the X-men into the MCU has it’s problems. We have to wonder where mutants have been all this time so it might only be possible to bring in the X-Men with a new modern timeline. Alternative some sort of universe crossover? Two separate Earths colliding allowing for the characters to appear together? It doesn’t sound like it would be a bad idea and I’m already suspecting this might be what is in store for the separate Earths of the DC CW shows next year.
But I do want to see something happen because I remember when X-men first came out around the same time as the Spiderman movies and thinking how cool would a crossover be. Of course given that X-men movies are still coming out it may be that some time is needed between retellings. But then they had no problem with Spiderman. The Flash has appeared in a DC movie despite the TV series and I think audiences today can take different versions of characters at the same time. After all there is over fifty years of comics to take from so there is really no need to repeat recent storylines. Of course they may just take a couple of characters from the X-men to use, maybe just too finally get some interesting villains. But I hope that in some way we do still get X-men movies because the X-Men represents something personal for me that doesn’t come with other heroes. But that’s another blog post coming soon.

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Trans Matters II – The Wrath of Twitter

 

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So recently I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog. Mainly because I’ve been caught up with other things. I revisited my old Twitter account. I’d started one years ago but didn’t get on with it and left it. Now I have several people I’m following and it’s been a good platform for me to interact with trans people and to come a bit more out. My profile pic is my Supergirl one.

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Of course by doing this I have got caught up with much of the ‘debate’ surrounding Trans issues especially in light of the consultation of reforms to the Gender Reform Act regarding self I.D. A move I am in favour of. To be honest I was a bit unprepared for the amount of hate coming from those who not only oppose it but in some cases even oppose Trans women. It is truly horrifying. That is to say that some people opposed to self I.D don’t have reasonable concerns but in many cases are ill informed on the subject.
My own reaction to any attack levelled toward myself is to talk back. Not shout and argue or get into arguments but just to answer back and in many ways in an unexpected and possibly weird way. A trick I learnt from the comedian Joe Lycett. For an example:
Recently I was embroiled on a thread mainly talking about Labour. Of course it wasn’t long before some people who didn’t agree with me changed from bashing Labour to bashing me, attacking me simply from my profile photo. One such individual actually posted ‘Does he really think he’s Supergirl. I want to vomit.’ Now despite my powers of being able to make a woman I’ve never met or spoken to apparently physically sick I know I’m not Supergirl. Now I could have simply told her where to go but I didn’t. Instead I wrote back ‘Of course I don’t think I’m Supergirl’. Followed by this gif.

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Weather it was meant sarcastically of because she was confused or simply she wanted to still try and get a rise out of me her response was. ‘But I guess you want everyone to think you’re a woman.’ Now there is nothing on my Twitter profile that mentions I’m Trans or questioning. I believe I mention that I’m questioning somewhere in the thread but I’m guessing that she hadn’t read this. And at the moment as I am only questioning and that I may only wish to do this in an artist way my response was ‘Personally I don’t give a shit’ followed by how I do want to get better at passing. This was then followed by her giving me make up tips and advice on how to get a better look to pass better as a natural woman. She’d gone from vomiting at the thought of me to trying to help me pass better.
While I take great delight that I managed to turn this women’s viewpoint around and count it as a victory I’m aware that I wasn’t really standing up for Trans rights in this way. It is something I try to do though. Not long after this incident the news came out about Trump trying to effectively erase Trans people. Its timing was also coincidently with the airing of episode three of the new series of Doctor Who, Rosa. (Look if you don’t know about Rosa Parks, go look her up and then come back) One reviewer of the show, who is also genderqueer, mentions that one problem with the episode is it shows no one else standing up for Rosa on the bus. It’s a valid point. Of course the Doctor and friends can’t interfere on this occasion no matter how hard it is for them. But now there is a comparison between then and now and quite rightly as this You Tuber says people do need to stand up for those being discriminated against. It can’t just be down to the victims.

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I had to remind myself of this very recently as some of the hate on Twitter nearly made me give up. A report on a woman, a mother, who abused a twelve year old in America came to light and immediately comments were made on why there was no mention of her being trans, on how it was obvious a male. The usual transphobic crap and do you know what. There was no official mention of this person being trans. Nothing mentioned in reports, just transphobic people deciding that a woman let alone a mother could do this so they changed the facts to fit their narrow minded views. And they say they can always tell. Huh.
Right deep breath.
In many ways the whole Trans thing has reminded me of the X-men graphic novel. God loves, Man kills. I recently dug it out of storage to re-read as events sparked memories of the story line. A story line where there is a movement out to eradicate mutants, such is the hate towards them. There is no attempt to try and understand mutants and the leader of the movement even turns on his most loyal follower when it’s indicated she too might have mutant genes. In the end it’s not only the X-men that stand up for their rights but one solitary police officer doing what is right, protecting one young mutant when she is threatened.

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It’s not the only X-men comparison I’ve made. Two weeks previous to writing this I tweeted about how maybe there should be a registration of Trans people so they can be policed before pointing out this was a plot of the X-men which didn’t work out so well in the end. It was a joke showing how absurd the idea is and yet this week the idea of a register was suggested. It is truly scary times we live in and I fear for those people across the pond. Certainly the X-men comics contains at its core the issues of hate against a minority. Currently the new season of Supergirl is also dealing with these kinds of issues, using aliens as its metaphor. They have also added a new transgender character. Hopefully a positive step in the right direction.
So regardless of what I decided about myself. Regardless of how I ‘protect’ myself on Twitter I will continue to stand up and fight for people’s right to be accepted for who they are. Rosa reinforced that in me and indeed the Doctor in general. In doing so I rewatched the twelfth Doctor’s speech to the Master and Missy. Because fighting a battle (even on Twitter) is not about winning, it’s not about beating somebody. It’s definitely not because it’s easy. It’s because it’s right and above all its kind. It’s just kind.

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