Trans-Girls and Gun Hill Road: Marking International Women’s Day For All Girls

The following post is part of Blog for International Women’s Day hosted by Gender Across Borders. This year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

Trans-girls of color need to be a part of how we mark International Women’s Day, especially in a year when the theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.” Often absent from our discussions about girls’ education and girls’ empowerment programs, trans-girls remain invisible to our re-imagining of a dynamic and inclusive future for all girls.

That’s why today I screened the film Gun Hill Road (2011) for my high school students taking my LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) literature and film class. Winner of the Best Acting Ensemble Award at the Ashland Independent Film Awards, Gun Hill Road features the story of a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx whose patriarch, Enrique, returns from prison only to learn gradually that his son, Michael, now identifies as a young woman, Vanessa.

As a queer teacher of color, I personally feel a responsibility to bring a range of narratives about the LGBT experience, especially those that have an intersectional lens of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, to my students, who themselves acknowledge that the queer images they see in the media are too often of white, upper middle class Will & Grace types. For me, screening a film about a young Puerto Rican trans-girl is imperative for teaching students that we need to disrupt mainstream narratives of what it means to be queer, young, and of color in today’s transphobic, misogynistic, and racist world.  Continue reading