SYNOPSIS: Disclosure (formerly titled Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen) is an unprecedented, eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. Leading trans thinkers and creatives, including Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Jen Richards, MJ Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, and Chaz Bono, share their reactions and resistance to some of Hollywood’s most beloved moments. Grappling with films like A Florida Enchantment (1914), Dog Day Afternoon, The Crying Game, and Boys Don’t Cry, and with shows like The Jeffersons, The L-Word, and Pose, they trace a history that is at once dehumanizing, yet also evolving, complex, and sometimes humorous. What emerges is a fascinating story of dynamic interplay between trans representation on screen, society’s beliefs, and the reality of trans lives. Reframing familiar scenes and iconic characters in a new light, director Sam Feder invites viewers to confront unexamined assumptions, and shows how what once captured the American imagination now elicit new feelings. Disclosure provokes a startling revolution in how we see and understand trans people.
In a month that has experienced a major shift in public outrage and protests regarding black and LGBTQ+ civil rights issues, comes the release of a social message film that reveals the history of trans representation across the media. The film puts the spotlight on how trans people have been portrayed in the media and entertainment industry and how that depiction has affected public perception of trans people, even calling out Oprah Winfrey, who is shown in a clip asking a transgender woman, “How do you hide your penis?”. In another clip, Katie Couric reflects on a cringeworthy interview when she directly asked a transgender woman about her “private parts.” The film’s posture also exposes the role of the Hollywood film narrative and how changing that narrative is vital in eradicating false and unreal audience perception of trans people.
“I wonder if people who watch and love these shows, I wonder if they will reach out to trans people in need, in order to defeat policies that scapegoat us, policies that discriminate against us, policies that dehumanize us. Because until that happens, all that energy from the silver screen won’t be enough to better the lives of trans people off the screen,” Laverne Cox explained.
Disclosure, directed by Sam Feder (Boy I Am, Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger), not only illuminates a disturbing public perception of trans people, but also forces some of its cast to come to terms with their own self-worth in an emotion-evoking, cathartic delivery.