What Would 1960’s Feminism Make Of A Modern Transgender Documentary?


In the last couple of days I’ve watched two documentaries: the first a relatively recent one, “Being Me”, about transgender young people.

I found it powerful and moving, showing the sadness and pain but also the clarity and importance of having support for the journey.

One young person, asked what her life would be like if she was forced to live it as a man, said: “Sad, bleak, and short. Very short.”

A doctor working in the transgender clinic at a children’s hospital talked about the comprehensive assessment process, and the importance of taking young people seriously. She said that the risk of self-harm and suicide [from forcing gender transconformity] is very high, compared with the risk of later regret [from a change of mind] which is low.

My second viewing experience was “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” (or at least the trailer for it) about feminism in the 1960s.

The question arising for me is about the changes, shifts, and developments in feminism since the 1960s. No doubt volumes could be written on this subject but, for the record and for me, an important aspect is increasing sophistication in seeing dimensions of structural power as intersecting – particularly those of sexuality, gender, and race.

While I was in the process of writing this post, I also came across this article on transmisogyny, about the intersection of sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. In the 1960s, we didn’t even have language for transmisogyny or transphobia. Sexism and homophobia were only just being named.

Feminism of the 1960s was prone to fragmentation around sexuality and race. Perhaps current feminism still is (and rightly so while some continue to feel excluded). But the concept of intersectionality at least provides a way forward. If we can build and reach the vision. Our thinking would, of course, need to encompass trans people who are male, and other aspects of cis-gender and cis-sexual privilege.

Written By Joan Beckwith, PhD

What would feminism (circa 1960) make of a transgender documentary (circa 2014)? was originally published @ 2020 Social Justice and has been syndicated with permission.

Photo by tedeytan


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  1. Joan Beckwith, PhD Joan Beckwith April 13, 2015

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