Having listened to Chloë Sevigny talk about her role in “Hit and Miss” on yesterday’s Woman’s Hour (It’s right at the start) I think I have to stand by my first view that the production company are seriously lacking in clue, as shown by the fact that their initial casting call was for a pre-op trans woman. (The pre-op bit was explicit)
The way such interviews usually work is that the production or publicity company will have a fact sheet or similar that they will give to the show and, although Chloë has some interesting views as a result of playing the part of a trans woman, (Perhaps enough to make me watch the show) it’s pretty clear from the interviewers questions that the fact sheet and likely the show itself will be awful.
We’ll start with the usual rant: Transsexual is an adjective, not a noun. The interview was littered with the interviewer committing the usual crime of referring to Chloë as playing “a transsexual” instead of “a transsexual woman” or “a trans woman”. (Chloë did not make this mistake once)
Interestingly, the text accompanying the podcast refers more correctly to her as playing “a transgender contract killer”.
The worst bit is, predictably given the requirement for any trans people playing the part be pre-op, the rampant genital essentialism which sounds like it’s going to be present throughout the series, and not in a good way. As well as the interviewer referring to her not having had “the full operation”, there’s this exchange:
Interviewer: “And we see her naked on a number of occasions and you wear prosthetic genitalia. Why was it important for the audience to see that?”
Chloë: “According to the producers…” (Laughs, slightly nervously: I don’t feel she’s comfortable with this explanation) “…they wanted, that was their way of reminding the audience that she is… still a man or still has her male genitalia… and I think it was provocative.”
That’s rather worrying for a series like this: They want to be provocative and they want to remind the viewers that she’s “still a man”. (Because as we know, you’re not “really a woman” until you’ve had “the full operation”… ugh!)
Interviewer: “And how did you deal with this, wearing it?”
Chloë: “Not very well. It was painful… physically and emotionally because Mia, of course, has a very bad relationship with her genitalia as most, I think, people that are transitioning do. It’s very uncomfortable and humiliating being naked with it on. It’s hard enough to be naked yet then to have… you know, I just felt like a freak which Mia does, it helped me inhabit the character”
This is more interesting – as Paris Lees put it, “Sounds like gender dysphoria to me”. (Or at least, a serious degree of body dysmorphia, even if I’m not entirely happy that she used the word “freak” there)
Later the interviewer refers to an earlier role of Chloë’s, in Boys Don’t Cry as the girlfriend of a trans man. The interviewer describes Brandon Teena as “a female-to-male not quite transsexual but crossdresser” which is pretty inaccurate.
If I watch this, it’s going to be because it sounds like Chloë’s experiences playing a trans woman are interesting. From the ham-fisted approach taken by the production company, I suspect overall it will do nothing to advance Trans equality and understanding and will likely be horribly cringeworthy.