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FTC Mass Comm student Sean Lanigan reviews the documentary which takes a deep dive into media representation of transgender people in Hollywood.

By Sean Lanigan

"Over the past two decades, Americans have experienced a significant evolution in their understanding and cultural acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people." This statement is from GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide. It’s inspiring to see some of this progress in Hollywood because, sadly, it wasn’t always this way. The 2020 Netflix Documentary "Disclosure" takes a deep dive into several ways that Hollywood has harmed the transgender community with what people see on screen.

This documentary does an incredible job educating people about the issues without giving them the guilt trip. Peter Debruge, a writer for Variety, explains further in his review of the film. "Rather than making audiences feel bad about trans themed movies they may have naively enjoyed in the past, it educates on the larger issues while unpacking a legacy of problematic representation."

Throughout the 108-minute film, transgender Hollywood actors, writers, and filmmakers discuss how the media’s historical long-standing portrayal of transgender characters has led to stereotypes and generalizations. Stars such as Laverne Cox and Candis Cayne discuss how difficult it was to see harmful representations that didn’t reflect their lives’ realities. More positive and accurate pictures on the screen can do so much for the well-being of a transgender person.

"Disclosure" dove into movies from the past several decades, where the representation of transgender people has been extremely negative, demeaning, and caused viewers to be fearful. The documentary highlighted films such as "Psycho", "Dressed to Kill", and "Silence of the Lambs."