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Inclusive Syfy TV show criticised for depicting anti-trans violence

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  1. Deborah Pearson 20 Jan 2013, 2:56pm

    I don’t think it was meant to be trans-violence. The stories are about mythological creatures and in mythology a shape shifter can be male or female or human or non-human looking. I think there may have been an over reaction here.

    1. Julian Morrison 20 Jan 2013, 5:08pm

      It’s a very cis privileged attitude, to think that it’s fine to not even know that “unmasking” has been a LIFE THREATENING anti-trans trope since well before “Ace Ventura”. There is no “over reaction” here, when the story is telling viewers that after you “unmask” someone who seems to be a woman as a “man”, it’s then okay to drag her off and kill her. Some of them already believe that. We’ve seen it happen in the past, over and over, with a resulting body count. The “trans panic defence” sometimes even works in a court of law. But hey, you’re cis, so you don’t care, don’t even care to find out, right? And the stuff you do is fine, because you didn’t mean it badly. Intent is magic, after all.

      1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 5:24pm

        that was my point, this can’t be seen only in terms of an an enclosed reality of the tv show and it’s mythology

        1. But by that same argument – Can I question Shakespeare plays for the misogyny, anti-semitism, racism, ableism etc contained within the pages? And if so, what should be done with them?

          OK, a leap connecting Lost Girl to Shakespeare – But if you bring a piece of artistic media outside its enclosure, where does offence begin and end?

          I get the point you are making, but I think it is something that is worthy of debate.

          1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 6:02pm

            yes you can, that’s what literary criticism is for

          2. OK, but this isn’t about a literary critique of Lost Girl. Unless I’m not understanding your word usage?

          3. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 6:24pm

            the same principles can be applied to any cultural product

      2. But the Liderc was NOT killed for being a man – the characters who did it were not kill on sight male (not friendly, but not KOS either). I know that because I know the episode. Are you sure you are not responding to partial facts as presented (fallaciously) rather than what actually happened?

        1. The liderc was killed for behaving in the way that conservatives and radical feminists claim trans women want to behave. I know this because I know the plot of the show and my country is currently trying to get trans people’s civil rights protected and is facing these exact bogeyman stories from the conservative pundits.

  2. Ok, if the character was meant to be a shape shifter, they weren’t a very good one were they? The producers may not have intended to be anti-trans, but should be experienced enough to know what it might look like.

    1. Deborah Pearson 20 Jan 2013, 3:10pm

      The point is that Bo is a very powerful Fey, she can beat most of the dark Fey and also can see things other Fey can’t. It would make sense that Bo was the one who saw through the shape shifter. This was not about a person trying to be recognised as a woman, this was about a dark Fey who was trying to disguise themselves as anything for the purpose of the story. What would you have preferred that the warden was perhaps a sunflower instead? It could have been, after all it was a shape shifter. It was not about transgender, this was simply a story about mythology, shape shifting is very much a feature of a lot of mythology and I think that we are heading down the road of being overly sensitive and seeing homophobia where there isn’t any.

  3. With 2 exceptions, all the characters in this show are based on known/recorded myth. For want of a better word, they are “magic”. The Liderc (Warden) in question is not the first shapeshifter and certainly won’t be the last since they are common in human legend.

    Context is key. There is nothing, at any point, to indicate that the character identified as transgender. The violence was in response to a murder, since eye for an eye justice is common in that fictional world.

    However, Prodigy Pictures did the right thing to listen to concerns and I am pleased they issued an apology (I like this show and support it – it is very LGBT positive). I think there was no intent whatsoever to offend.

    What I AM bloody furious with is GLAAD trying to inflate this by – in their statement – correlating this to the Moore scandal when Moore (and cohorts) was openly and deliberately transphobic. To mention the two in the same article was a disgusting and provocative over reach.

    1. Spoiler not intended, and not really present. Lost Girl is a violent show and people who watch it are aware of that, deaths are common – just as they are aware that it is an urban fantasy with characters who are not human and don’t act with human motives.

      1. It’s like saying if you watch Game of Thrones you somehow agree with incest, or think that depicting incest in that way is wrong.

  4. Often shows like this have stories and messages that are supposed mirror issues in real life. Like the way X-Men has the concept of equality/discrimination underlying it.

    A decent producer would have recognised the potential for a storyline about “a man who was really a woman” to be perceived as a metaphor for transgender people and made sure the plot was responsible.

    1. They recognise this, hence the prompt apology. Bear in mind that they draw from myth and the Liderc is not a fabrication – that is against their rules. It is a Hungarian variant of incubus/succubus since it can be either gender at will (it can also be a chicken…but then myths may not make sense). Fans of the show are used to inhuman entities using their powers to facilitate their needs.

      Is the issue here one of context?

      For example, one of the few characters who ever asserts her sexual orientation (hetero) is often accused of being homophobic since she doesn’t like the lead character’s female love interest. But that is a false correlation to make since the reasoning for this dislike is character based and cannot be demonstrated to be due to the gender/orientation of Bo’s lover. The assumption of “Kenzi doesn’t like Lauren+Lauren is a lesbian=Kenzi doesn’t like lesbians” is made by those who don’t really watch the show. At what point can or should they be accommodated?

      1. Its natural form is a chicken. The nonhumanoid natural form is the only thing that distinguishes a lidrec from being a completely generic shapeshifter. They chose to have their character that they call a lidrec resemble the bogeyman version of a transexual woman that conservatives and radical feminists use to prevent trans people making any social progress instead of actually following the mythology.

  5. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 3:34pm

    i’m sorry but ‘it’s not real life’ simply isn’t good enough

    1. How about – this was unintentional and is completely dependent on individual interpretation of what people THINK they can see, rather than what is actually being portrayed, frame by frame and word by word, on screen?

      Some people interpret the Liderc as being MTF, but that is not in the script and not in the story. There is nothing to indicate any identification beyond “Liderc” at any point.

      People who watch this show understand this because it is in the context of the show – and in the parent myth. People reading the articles and not knowing or viewing the show are viewing it through the prism of their own interpretation.

      And this is NOT like Moore/Burchill, which is a link GLAAD tried to make. There is a world of difference between me stepping on someone’s toe by accident (even if by own admission, a little clumsily) and then offering a prompt apology – And stamping on someone’s foot and then glaring at them for daring to protest.

      1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 4:42pm

        i wasn’t about to suggest there was a link with the moore/ burchill thing and i am grateful that they apologised.

        my point is that no cultural products exist without reference to the culture they are produced in so simply saying ‘it’s not representing the real world’ when you defend it isn’t enough.

        1. Honestly, I’m happy that Prodigy Pics made a quick reaction to an expressed problem and think attempting mediation and offering apology was just.

          But please be aware, GLAAD did mention the Moore issue in their press statement. PN don’t mention it, but I saw it and read it and that is what makes me angry here.

          The culture being represented is myth – We’ve had mongolian death worms, we’ve got a succubus, we have characters from sidhe legend, we have sirens, brownies, werewolves etc etc. It draws from culture and then repeats it – it is part of existing cultural product.

          People who know and watch the show watch it knowing that. People who dip into 2 minutes of an episode don’t get it and add their own interpretation which isn’t a fair reflection of what is actually taking place. That’s a problematic thing to do.

          1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 4:55pm

            i appreciate the mythological argument but even myths are open to a politicised interpretation :-)

  6. Blown out of proportion… As others have pointed out, context is everything. The character was in no way identifying themselves as transgender at any point. Plus, what about the fact that the episode in question was about Amazons, who were labeled (according to the actual myth) as anti-male and who throw out their male babies? Should someone make a big deal of that and criticise the show for anti-male violence description? Over-sensitivity can be just as bad as nonchalance…

  7. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 4:30pm

    i think what people are not getting here is that this is about how the violence was represented not if it was phobic or not.

    1. But what the article doesn’t represent is that the violence is not as a result of the discovery – but as the result of what was a horrible crime. It was NOT “argh, kill the man” it was about a response to something quite awful that I don’t want to spoiler. Retributive justice is common in this show – and Fae who do awful things tend to get into a mortal fight for their life.

      Which is once more a problem of context – and news aggregates such as PN not providing it. I’m a fan of the show, I can’t dodge the spoilers, I know exactly what happened and why in the closing dramatic act and it is not represented correctly in this article.

      1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 4:58pm

        perhaps so, i am willing to be wrong if i am misinformed.

        what was it cromwell said ‘from the bowels of christ we beseach you to think you may be wrong.’

        1. Please keep in mind, that some people were offended is absolutely accepted and the statement in response is what I would expect from Prodigy.

          I’m really wary of those responding to the story about the ep, rather than the ep itself.

          And I find it sad that an otherwise VERY positive show trying something unprecedented – showing that a f/f relationship in a mainstream show can and does appeal to everyone and is marketable and that consigning LGBT characters to niches is wrong and unnecessary – is taking a beating.

          Put that in context of how lovingly GLAAD (and they are the ones I have the objection to here) stroke a show like Glee – which is horribly misogynistic – and I find myself confounded by what they (GLAAD) are actually doing.

          Encourage and mediate with the positive, if a mistake is made bring it out in the open and talk about it. But it seems to me that GLAAD have gone for the throat, while having a poor record of supporting the things that this show does well.

          1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 5:41pm

            gladd attacked glee for being anti-trans

          2. But GLAAD also overlooks constant misogyny and the negativity that the other LGBT women are portrayed, and rewards the show with an award nomination.

  8. Why would a “shape-shifter” have facial stubble? That fact alone is enough to make this character trans rather than mythic, IMHO.

    1. But you don’t have the facts, just the selected out of context bits that are being repeated for you here, and that’s part of the point here that I keep trying to make.

      1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 5:26pm

        unfortunately not everyone who watches this or hears about it has all the facts’ either

        1. That is very much likely – this ep won’t air in the UK until March at the earliest. But should that not prompt people to at least be circumspect and limit the urge to make definitive statements while not fully informed?

          1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 6:05pm

            my point, however, is that regardless of how much context it has it can be misinterpreted and used to validate violence against trans people.

            this is a little to close to the experience of many people for comfort.

  9. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 5:31pm

    another thing here is the difference in how trans and cis people see this.

    what seems innocuous to a cis person may not to a trans one

    1. Um. Please don’t construe this as targeting you. I do think this is a conversation worth happening.

      That is very much likely, which I guess is how this issue happened in the first place.

      Prodigy Pics concede that there was offence (this show isn’t made by Syfy, it’s a Canadian company) and offer apology, while committing to check themselves in future to prevent it happening again. I’m not sure where this story goes from this point?

      1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 6:27pm

        and i think it’s great that they did but the debate over representations and how they are viewed by different groups (ie. does, say, cis privilege make you less lightly to view this as problematic) is an interesting one

        1. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 6:28pm

          basically: why do i and there trans commentators see this as an issue while others do not?

          1. Personally? Because I know the show and didn’t see the character as a man or a woman, but a Fae, a Liderc, a magical entity out of a mythology encyclopaedia. I know that no one in the show is ever what they seem to be – something clear from season 1, episode 1, minute 1. In the same way I will look at everyone in – say – Star Wars, as an alien.

            I don’t dispute offence, neither did Prodigy. But I don’t think any vilification is just either.

            You will call the privilege. OK. Given the space here, I don’t know I can explain – But I am wary of trying to view media through eyes and experiences I don’t have, making assumptions that are not based in my truth. And I feel wary because I have been told, in the past, to not try to do this (and honestly this isn’t my reality, and to attempt to place myself in it, also seemed offensive).

            Net result? I feel a little helpless.

          2. I didn’t explain what I wanted to well and there’s no edit button. Umm. I don’t know you’ll understand that and am not sure how I can make it more clear.

          3. theotherone 20 Jan 2013, 7:00pm

            don’t feel bad, you’re atleast open to other’s experiences :-)

  10. Surely it’s a good thing to depict this kind of thing though…. I think we should see this violence, it should be shown to us.

    Just because something is disgusting doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show it. We show rape, and incest, murder… they all turn our stomachs because of how wrong they are. Why not show that kind of violence and let people see what it looks like?

  11. I have– it deals with Fae (fairies and other magical creatures). In the episode in question a Fae with shapshifting abilities was presenting as a female Amazon in order to turn a female-only fey prison into a baby breeding farm, and surrupticiously impregnating the prisoners with its own children. When the plot and deception was exposed the notoriously misandrist and xenophobic Amazons that made up the guard staff turned on the character violently.

    I didn’t see it as the show endorsing anti-trans violence. If anything, I would say that the character in question was intersex (given the description of the race it belonged to) and not trans at all. Beyond that, the character was a sex offender (forcing pregnancy without knowledge or consent and then tampering with the mind and memories of it’s victims) that lied and manipulated the people that attacked. To me it was very much a matter of ‘reaping what you sow’.

    1. theotherone 21 Jan 2013, 10:39am

      and a ‘man in a dress lieing to get into a female only space to rape women’ isn’t something transwomen get accused of?

      1. Downvoted for actually saying the truth. My sympathies. The story they wrote was identical to claims that conservatives and radical feminists make in order to defame trans women, and did not really resemble the mythology of the lidrec, which is not supposed to be humanoid in its natural form.

  12. off subject a bit but is it not SCFI not syfy? Or have i missed something

    1. It used to be Sci-fi Channel. The new name of the TV is SyFy (since 2009 I believe).

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