Tag Archives: Transgender

Creating Mum: Director Anne-Marie O’Connor and Actor Kate O’Donnell on Their Award-Winning Short Film

To say that the relationship between a child and parent is fraught with emotions, most of them far from easy to put into words, is putting it lightly. Yet this is the subject of Mum, a short film that captures a visit from a trans woman to her aging mother. Having already won a handful of accolades, it began screening as part of New Irish Shorts 3 at the Galway Film Fleadh just this past Thursday, July 13th.

Mum is the creation of many talented individuals, chief among them being director Anne-Marie O’Connor and actor and star Kate O’Donnell. In addition to being able to review the short film I was also offered an interview with the two of them that allowed me to gain a better understanding of how this particular work came to be.


First off, congratulations to the both of you on the awards that Mum has won so far, at both the London Independent Film Festival and Global Shorts. To springboard off of that into our first question, as it’s screened as part of “New Irish Shorts 3” at the Galway Film Fleadh, what helps to make this an Irish film outside of the talent involved?

O’Connor: The song that is played and sung throughout the short is Black Velvet Band. It was important to me for this to link the film as it was a song that Kate’s mum used to sing to her and a song that my dad used to sing to me as a child. And although geographically it isn’t set in Ireland, the relationship between Kate and her mum feels very Irish to me and in writing this I felt that Linda was second-generation Irish and that Kate was a product of that upbringing.

I noticed in the credits that Mum was created by the two of you, but that it was only written by Anne-Marie. Could you both go into some detail regarding the creative process?

O’Connor: Kate and I are good friends and have been for years, and as she’s a leading trans actor and activist I’ve always wanted to work with her creatively. We often discuss the way that transgender people are portrayed in film and TV (the fascination with the transition, the no-one-will-ever-love-me storyline, sex workers or outsiders) and wanted to make a short that didn’t fall into those familiar tropes, to have a transgender central character in a universal story.

So I met with Kate and I asked her what story she would tell if she could and it simply came from her saying she’d love to go home and paint her mum’s nails; something she used to do when she was younger but is impossible to do because her stepfather makes life difficult (he’s always been difficult, way before Kate transitioned!). And so we built the story around her own story. It was very important for both of us that Kate was acknowledged in the creative process. So that is why it is created by both of us.

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Mum: A Short Film Review

“Mum.”

It’s a term that elicits a broad range of emotions, with each of our respective childhoods affecting how we react to it. Who we were, growing up, is a significant factor. But what about instances when who we are now is worlds apart from the person we once were?

Having spent much of her career up to now working in television, Mum is Anne-Marie O’Connor’s first short film, and one that she created with the help of star Kate O’Donnell, a transgender actor. Her debut short focuses on a trans character of the same name whose visit home is derailed by the discovery that her mother is in very poor health.

Much like the director, O’Donnell’s limited experience is also in television, where she starred in an episode of the transgender romcom series Boy Meets Girl. As the character at the centre of this short film she delivers a performance that, while uneven at points, always feels painfully real. Continue reading

Why We Shouldn’t Care About the Intersex

The Case for Unisex Bathrooms.”

Faithful followers of this blog may recall that was a post we ran back in November of 2015, dealing with the push for equal bathroom access for transgendered folks. Yours truly made some pretty compelling arguments, and you’d expect the universe to comply with my effervescent fountain of wisdom, yet on February 22nd, the Trump administration announced it would repeal transgendered bathroom protections established by Obama.

So here we are again.

And that’s a little strange, because other than a couple incidents, I don’t recall a sudden wave of sexual assaults taking place after the Obama administration instituted its protections. Maybe it’s like how gay marriage was supposed to bring about the downfall of society, and it just takes a suuuuuuper long time to get started.

Or maybe it’s just a gut reaction to some of the more stupid elements out there. The folks who’d argue that the world should respect their choice to identify as a bottle of mayonnaise:

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Given painfully unironic martyrs like that, it’s not completely baffling why some people would push back against any unusual gender identity. Continue reading

“You Might as Well Have [insert character here] Be [insert 2-4 minority types here]!”

One of the most common adages on the internet is “don’t read the comments”. While this global network that we’re all currently using [unless you somehow managed to snag a printout of this post] has given us all the ability to share and discuss everything under the sun, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of that conversation amounts to hot garbage. You could scroll down past an article to see what people are saying about it, but chances are that it won’t be a particularly uplifting experience.

As someone who spends much of his time online reading about entertainment there’s a type of comment that I’ve seen crop up time and time again. It’s existence ties directly into a lot of the recent trends in comic books, television, and film, the push towards inclusivity and the people who are actively working to make that happen. A perfect example [of a handful I’ll be referencing throughout this article] is:

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“disabled, multiracial trans women with disfiguring facial scars” – posted on “There are more (white) women starring in movies than ever before”

I’ve been compiling these for the past few months, originally with the intent of putting together another “For Your Consideration” and allowing readers to look them over and come to their own conclusions. A general [and accurate] takeaway would be to note them as being typical of inane online comments and move on, but I’d like to spend a little time breaking down the idiocy they represent.

They Perpetuate the Default

The default person, in case you needed to be informed of who generally holds the most power and screentime across the board, is a straight able-bodied cisgendered White man. I’m painfully aware that simply listing those words in successive order like that marks me as being one of the SJWs [my thoughts on that term here], but every one is important to take note of.

Take the following:

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“black Asian gay lesbian transgender Spider-man” – posted on “Dear HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: May We Have a Word About ‘Cultural Appropriation’?”

To look at the list and mark it against the checklist of what makes a default human being, in the eyes of at least a few, we have:

  • straight  ≠ “gay lesbian”
  • cisgendered  ≠ “transgender”
  • White  ≠ “black Asian”

Other comments I’ll be including later on will add examples that include disabled people, but the general gist of every one capitalizes on the absurdity of a person who doesn’t match the standard cutout. A  straight able-bodied cisgendered White woman? Not a terrible strain of the imagination. Once you start to tick off more items that don’t coincide with the norm, however, things apparently get a lot shakier.

I don’t even think that many of these commenters are aware of the implicit message behind the words they type. By listing these adjectives and identifiers they end up with a person who most of them share absolutely nothing in common with, which exposes the very reason we need diversity at all. Everyone should be able to relate to entertainment, and for too long the industry has catered to an audience that gets smaller every day. Continue reading

If Protecting Women Against Sexual Assault was the Point, Bathroom Preference Wouldn’t Be Our Main Focus

The bathroom use of transgender people has been a topic that’s hard to avoid, especially on social media. Here in Canada, the following video began to circulate after Alberta’s 61 school boards decided to “revise regulations and hash out new policies by March 31 to protect the rights of LGBTQ students and teachers, support gay-straight alliances and create a safe learning environment.”

And in the U.S., the American Family Association recently began a boycott of Target after the organization stated that transgender visitors should be allowed to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. Meanwhile, several States have attempted to pass bills that would force “transgender people to use restrooms that don’t match the gender they live every day”.

Along with the debate, a variety of memes have popped up on both sides of the conversation. While it irritates me to see the particularly popular Chuck Norris-themed meme belittle transgender experiences, I thought trans activists were easily holding their own in the meme department by reminding readers of how difficult it can be to spot a transgender person, and therefore how ridiculous it is to police who enters which bathroom.

Unfortunately, there have already been several cases of bathroom policing, where women who aren’t deemed feminine enough are challenged for entering their bathroom (as might be expected, the video below includes some strong language).

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2 Broke Girls, S5E4 “And the Inside Out Situation”: A TV Review

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As soon as I saw the promo pictures on the CBS website I began dreading this week’s episode of 2 Broke Girls. “And the Inside Out Situation” centres entirely around LGBT discrimination and political correctness, and let’s just say that the writers on this show have not exactly shown the tact of John Oliver and co. at Last Week Tonight or the biting satire of the South Park people.

From the very beginning things look rough, as the LGBT character they chose to put front and centre, I, introduces themselves:

“To be clear, I am neither he nor she, mister nor misses, male nor female. And the only part of me that is transitioning are my heels from day to evening. I am simply ‘I’. And I cannot be labelled. I am gender fluid.”

The issue with this is when the audience chooses [and/or is prompted] to laugh. After the first joke, the reference to heels, is a given. The second, on the other hand, comes right after I tells the two girls that they are gender fluid. Now this is a word that has garnered a good amount of negative connotations in the past few years, but that is problematic to say the least. Continue reading

The Case For Unisex Bathrooms

Well readers, once again this post comes to you late- and you can blame a combination of my own schedule and the complexity of addressing theological minutiae. Rather than trying to grapple with the subject of superstition in contemporary Christianity, we’re going to be looking at an equally strange subject:

Unisex bathrooms.

Now if you’re like me you probably don’t spend much time thinking about the bathroom- except when you’re cleaning it in preparation for guests or writhing in agony after eating a Big Mac because you didn’t have any options (seriously, when did McDonald’s start putting glass in their burgers?). Which is why it should come as some surprise to you that the city of Houston is up in arms over that very subject- or more specifically, who gets to use ’em.

Now a few of you may vaguely recall that in 2014 the city of Houston passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or “HERO”, a piece of legislation banning discrimination in terms of employment, housing, and use of public accommodations. For the most part there was no controversy over most of the ordinance, which prevents discrimination against race, sexual orientation, sex, and marital status, but what really riled up some was the inclusion of the following element-“Gender Identity.”

Now the inclusion of the term “Gender Identity” is important because it means that transsexuals may, without harassment or prevention, be permitted to use the bathroom of whatever gender they identify as. In other words, a woman who was once a man would be allowed to use the male bathroom and vice versa.

Needless to say, some folks were not happy about this. Continue reading