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Art Essay History Humanities Nonfiction Other Photography Social Sciences Theory

Tracing the History of Trans and Gender Variant Filmmakers

By Laura Horak, 2017

Most writing on transgender cinema focuses on representations of trans people, rather than works made by trans people. This article surveys the history of trans and gender variant people creating audiovisual media from the beginning of cinema through today. From the professional gender impersonators of the stage who crossed into film during the medium’s first decades to self-identified transvestite and transsexual filmmakers, like Ed Wood and Christine Jorgensen of the mid-twentieth century, to the enormous upsurge in trans filmmaking of the 1990s, this article explores the rich and complex history of trans and gender variant filmmaking. It also considers the untraceable gender variant filmmakers who worked in film and television without their gender history becoming known and those who made home movies that have been lost to history.

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