The LGBT Center, the Women’s Center, and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program sponsored an event on trans* feminism on Jan. 22 in Metcalf Hall, coordinated by junior Taylor Strelevitz. Students enjoyed Thai food while watching the documentary Beautiful Daughters. Beautiful Daughters is a 2006 film directed by Josh Aronson focusing on a Los Angeles performance of The Vagina Monologues by a cast made up of transgender and transsexual women. After the documentary, trans* women and a Tufts lecturer discussed trans* feminism and representation in the media.
One of the guests was a stand-up comic, journalist, and trans* woman named Lorelei Erisis, who was a member of Chicago’s Second City comedy group. Erisis talked about her difficulties transitioning in Hollywood and the need for increased representation in today’s entertainment. She discussed the increase of trans* roles in movies and television shows and how the media is becoming more diverse. Erisis emphasized the importance of trans* feminism is fighting for trans* rights, which is fighting for human rights.
Another one of the guests was Laurie Wolfe, a trans* woman who was trained as a healer and is a graduate of Tufts. Wolfe believed that while The Vagina Monologues is important for showing how women still experience violence, the show itself could be very exclusive. She made the point that not everyone who identifies as a woman has a vagina, and not everyone who has a vagina identifies as a woman. She acknowledged the show’s helpfulness, but expressed hope that a more inclusive type of media would be created soon.
The third guest was visiting lecturer Shannon Weber, who teaches a Sexuality and Society class in the sociology department at Tufts. She too discussed the importance of changing the media, using the popular T.V. show Orange is the New Black as an example of progress for trans* representation, despite the series’ flaws.
The event was important because it highlighted trans* women’s issues, especially within the context of traditional feminism. It presented different viewpoints on a controversial topic, while still affirming the importance of women’s rights and human rights.