Pity Is Not The Same As Respect: A Critique Of ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

feature image from IMDB

Spoiler Alert: This article contains plot details for the film Dallas Buyers Club.

Trans representation on film is pretty abysmal, ranging from mildly problematic to dangerously ignorant and hateful. The movies have given us very few trans characters at all, and those that are not blatantly offensive are often still problematic in subtler ways. This isn’t to say that no positive characters exist in cinema (and of course it’s all a matter of opinion), but for my money there’s very little out there that can be truly called a positive portrayal. Where does Dallas Buyers Club fall on the spectrum of trans representation in cinema? Despite its pro-gay attitude, the film fails to break the pattern of transphobic narratives in cinema, perhaps because it doesn’t understand that trans people are not the same as cis gay people.

Dallas Buyers Club is the story of Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey), a straight cis man who is diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985 and subverts the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Big Pharma to acquire unapproved and experimental medication. He founds the Dallas Buyers Club (sometimes written as Dallas Buyer’s Club) to distribute this medication to AIDS patients who either couldn’t afford or weren’t being helped by approved treatments. In doing so, he becomes close to a transgender woman named Rayon (played by Jared Leto), who is also HIV-positive and helps Woodroof run the organization. It’s based on a true story: Ron Woodroof and the Dallas Buyers Club are real, while Rayon is fictional. It’s easy to see the appeal of the tale: it’s about a lone man taking on The System, about courage, strength and perseverance in the face of adversity, about clinging to life against the odds.


via IMDB

When we look at the narrative that arises from these real-life circumstances, however, problems are apparent. Woodroof’s Dallas organization was far from unique, but as Noel Murray writes (emphasis in original), “there’s an extent to which this is trying to be a kind of ur-story for the whole “buyers club” phenomenon and not just a character sketch, and that’s where having a straight hero becomes somewhat problematic.” I’d go even further to argue that despite the film’s micro scale (it deals with only a handful of people), it demands a macro reading, wherein each character represents their larger community. When viewed this way, Woodroof is the Straight Cis Savior to the AIDS epidemic, while Rayon, the only developed queer character, is the Victim.

The film opens with Woodroof having sex with two women, to assure the audience that Woodroof — soon to be diagnosed HIV-positive — is absolutely definitely 100% straight. After all, the narrative doesn’t work unless Woodroof is aggressively heterosexual. His homophobia, transphobia and racism are core aspects of his personality, which enables his character arc from bigot to advocate. Sure, he spends a lot of time spitting out anti-gay and anti-trans slurs, but he eventually learns tolerance and becomes an advocate, so I guess everything is sunshine and rainbows, right? For one thing I think the whole “overcoming bigotry” arc is problematic in and of itself, when you consider the lack of queer representation and the Savior Complex that this film has. More importantly than that, though is the disparity in the treatment of cis gay men (who are bit parts and extras) and the treatment of the film’s treatment of Rayon. While cis gay men are respected (albeit narratively sidelined), Rayon, as a transgender woman, is disrespected, deprived of autonomy, and made to suffer.

Rayon is misgendered throughout the film, which I might forgive if it had been sourced to character ignorance. However, because a defining point of the film is these characters’ queer advocacy, the ignorance is clearly from the film itself. It’s worse than just misgendering, though. Woodroof uses multiple transphobic insults against Rayon, including “miss man”, “whatever you are”, and at one point he points a gun at Rayon’s crotch and jokes that he will use it to “give [her] that sex change [she’s] been wanting.” The scene is meant to be playful, because nothing shows rapport and camaraderie better than mocking the concept of anti-trans violence. It isn’t any better behind the scenes, either, with Leto describing Rayon as an “unbelievably impossible person,” an assertion that characterizes trans people as exotic novelties, rather than real human beings with real lives. Leto’s sentiment shouldn’t be surprising, though, when you realize that in the film, Rayon doesn’t really have much of a life of her own.


via IMDB

At one point in the film, Woodroof encounters a former friend while shopping with Rayon. After the friend insults Rayon, Woodroof puts him in a headlock and forces him to shake Rayon’s hand. Two things stand out in this scene: A) how little Rayon is actually involved and B) how uninterested Rayon is in shaking this guy’s hand. It isn’t about her, it’s about Woodroof showing that he is no longer okay with sentiments he once freely tossed around himself. This dynamic of Rayon serving as a catalyst for Woodroof, with little to no regard for her own desires, agency or even her life, persists throughout the film. The filmmakers themselves admit to creating Rayon to teach Woodroof tolerance. The ultimate example comes in the second act, when Rayon dies, succumbing to a combination of AIDS and drug abuse. Her death sends Woodroof into a spiral of grief, allowing him to prove that he’s changed. Yes, the only queer character in the film dies so that the straight cis protagonist can show just how much he cares about queer people now. But why did she need to die for that to happen? Rayon was a fictional character and thus not bound by historical circumstance. Rayon’s death allows Woodroof to express his newfound tolerance in the most visceral way possible, to be sure. But her death also plays into a larger cultural narrative that depicts trans people as tragic above all else.

Rayon’s existence is defined by suffering, and she lacks hope, strength, and agency. Everything about Rayon is designed to create sympathy, not empathy, and to make Rayon as pathetic as possible. The audience is meant to look on her as a pitiful victim in need of saving, the Queer Damsel In Distress to Woodroof’s Straight Cis Knight In Shining Armor. As Daniel D’Addario argues, the film portrays Rayon as “automatically a victim, unaware of how she could help herself.” Rayon takes little action of her own, and it’s problematic even when she does. When she withholds necessary contacts from Woodroof to force him to partner with her, he wonders aloud if he’s “dreaming,” defusing one of Rayon’s only moments of autonomous action by implying that such an act by someone like her is out of the ordinary, even difficult to fathom. Woodroof also infantilizes Rayon repeatedly by treating her like a misbehaving child incapable of making her own decisions. While a defining trait of Woodroof is his “will to live,” a defining trait of Rayon is her lack of thereof, which the filmmakers convey via her ongoing drug addiction (Woodroof stops using drugs cold turkey without any difficulty or reaction). This framing of drug addiction as a simple lack of self-control is problematic in many ways, including that it allows the filmmakers to blame Rayon for her own death, absolving Woodroof of any failure to complete his Savior duties. It’s also strongly implied that Rayon simply doesn’t want to live, a premise that both stems from and reinforces how tragic her life is.


via IMDB

Rayon’s character and narrative validate subtle prejudices against gender and sexual minorities by presenting a cisgender superiority that only looks favorably on trans people as it looks down on them. Unlike the more glaring instances of queer characters suffering and dying as punishment, Rayon suffers and dies to affirm hierarchies that place people with traditional gender and sexuality at the top. This kind of depiction, veiled behind positivity, inclusion, and allyship, is among the most harmful because it goes easily unnoticed, and thus can more easily create or affirm prejudices and biases of viewers. In lieu of the ally cookie this film so clearly wants, I have a message: pity is not the same as respect. Perhaps one day the mainstream will start treating us as human beings deserving of respect and not as unfortunate oddities deserving of pity, and then perhaps future queer characters will be able to have their own lives, their own journeys, and do more than just suffer.

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Eleven is a queer trans filmmaker, writer and poet from Denver, CO. She spends most of her time avoiding Real Life by immersing herself in all things cinema. You can follow her at thirteenminustwo.

Eleven has written 1 article for us.


  1. thanks for a thoughtful critique.

    I find the whole idea of a film about the AIDS crises centered around a straight guy massively problematic. It seems like the AIDS crises only matters and is only acknowledged when it affects (and is thus centered around) a white straight dude. Thanks Hollywood.

    • YES. This: “The film opens with Woodroof having sex with two women, to assure the audience that Woodroof — soon to be diagnosed HIV-positive — is absolutely definitely 100% straight.”

    • Yeah, totally. I think If there were tons of films set during the AIDS crisis, then it would be interesting to have some films examining the experiences of non-gay men during the crisis. Sure, Woodroof’s story is interesting. So are the lives of straight women with AIDS whose doctors refused to even diagnose them with the disease because they believed it could only be contracted by gay men.

      But the fact of the matter is we *don’t* have a lot of films set during that era. And gay men *were* the hardest hit and the backlash against those with the disease and inaction by the government and medical community were motivated by homophobia. So the fact that one of the few movies to examine that era chooses to focus on a straight white cis guy is just plain bullshit.

    • Well I think that while I understand the critique, the “white straight dude” you’re talking about saved thousands of lives. LGBTQ+ lives.

  2. Thanks for this. I hadn’t heard of this film before, and it sounds like one to miss. Do you have any thoughts on/have seen ‘Todo Sobre Mi Madre/All About My Mother’ by Almodovar? It has two trans* characters, one of whom has a hopeful narrative and saves the other characters in the film as much as they save her. I’m not trans though and would really like to hear some other views on the film.

    • Almodovar gets a plus for actually using trans women (like Bibiana Fernandez) in his earlier films like Matador and Kika and for casting trans actress Antonia San Juan (who’s well known in Spain for her theater work) as Agrado in All About My Mother. But… once he became more mainstream he stopped doing this and in some films of his like Bad Education or the recent The Skin I’m In, really exploits trans narratives for screwed up messages (and hired cis actors to play them). I love All About My Mother up until the trans hooker character appears who is both played by an unlikely cis man and, of course, dying. It almost ruins the film right at the end.

        • If I’ve insulted anyone using the word hooker I apologize. My mistake… won’t use again.

          In fairness, you use ‘tw*t,’ and ‘dyke’ in your profile and one of the people you listed as admiring, s. bear bergman, wrote a long, callous and dismissive essay in the defense of his use of the word ‘tranny’. So, at the very least, consistency?

        • Hang on, is twat a bad thing? Actual legit question- possible transatlantic crossed wires.

          And dyke is one of my favourite words, particularly when used in the land of AS profiles.

      • I use them in reference to myself. If you don’t understand how reclamation is different from slurring others, I really don’t think I can help you here. Also, I wasn’t aware that I had to be aware of every single thing a person had ever published, in order to call myself a fan. I’m sorry my meticulously picked-through profile didn’t meet your standards of consistency, I promise never to defend sex workers ever again.

  3. “The film opens with Woodroof having sex with two women, to assure the audience that Woodroof — is absolutely definitely 100% straight”

    That’s a first! BS.. pure propaganda Hollywood BS.

  4. Thanks for this! I’d been hearing about this movie for a while in trans circles and had a queasy sort of feeling about it, like I was probably going to want to steer clear. Nice to know (but also terribly depressing) that my gut was right.

    • No, there’s not actually. We’re too busy dying of drug overdoses and wearing tons of eye shadow.

  5. Eleven, thanks for your great discussion of Dallas Buyer’s Club. Yup, think I’m going to wait until it’s on Netflix. I’m suspecting the director saw “Rent” (the trans character is the one who dies), made her white and grafted her on to this plot. If I see another interview with Jared Leto talking about the horrible oppression he faced while walking into a Whole Foods for an entire 5 minutes while dressed as ‘Rayon’ I’m going to toss my cookies. To its minor credit, the entire history of trans women during the AIDS crisis has been largely erased and organizations like the CDC furthered that process by included them in the “MSM – men having sex with men” category.

    Yes, centering this story about a straight man is disgusting, although there were straight communities like Newark, NJ where really large numbers of straight people were seropositive and had extremely high death rates. Of course, they were poor and weren’t white. I’m also old enough to remember how Ryan White (a little boy), Kimberly Bergalis and Mary Ford became huge media figures as the public faces of AIDS mostly because they weren’t gay men, poor or black.

  6. I was already upset with this movie for the fact that they once again cast a cis person as a trans woman (especially since it’s a role they knew was going to be oscar bait). And now after reading your review/critique of it, it seems even more annoying and problematic.

    • Personally, I’d just be happy with them choosing a woman (cis or trans), if only to counter the idea that trans women are ‘really men’.

  7. Why couldn’t have the story focus on Rayon and her life? Why couldn’t they get a trans woman to play her character. *sigh* It’s great to see more transgender characters in the media but Hollywood has a lot to learn and along way to go.

    • Why? Because the people involved in this film are prejudiced against trans women, the same as 95%+ of the population. It’s not some big mystery. I could have guessed this would be the depiction of this character even before reading any reviews of the movie, even before knowing who they casted. It goes with the territory. I’m having trouble thinking of a single Hollywood movie or TV show that has EVER depicted a trans woman positively in all of history. . .it would be weird if The Dallas Buyers Club had been a first.

  8. ‘Despite its pro-gay attitude, the film fails to break the pattern of transphobic narratives in cinema, perhaps because it doesn’t understand that trans people are not the same as cis gay people.’


    Yes, thank you for that one sentence alone! Media portrayals of queer / trans people is something I think about a lot (my academic background is in media and film theory).

    A trans gf of mine referred to trans women portrayals in the media as the three Ps: punchline, prostitute, or psycho (silent P, I know). I think until we have a trans director (I would LOVE to see Lana and Andy Wachowski oversee such a project) take the reins of a smaller film that deals overtly with trans themes or has fully realized trans characters we will continue to receive such wafer-thin caricatures or worse. In my opinion trans equality is maybe 15 – 20 years behind the GLB component in the US and this is pretty much reflected in where the media presentations are.

    Is not like there isn’t great gender queer / trans literature out there that some independent studio wing couldn’t adapt from and it would be very refreshing for once to not see a dying and / or desperate tg character who is going through or obsessed with transition. You know, show them actually being people and living life — SHOCK. With Video-on-Demand becoming the go to platform for smaller films these days it is possible now more than ever for such a voice to find its audience. I would gladly pay extra price (hell, I’d even journey many hours) just to go to a movie theater that was playing such a trans positive film and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    • I’m pretty sure your average white cis gay guy 15 years ago wasn’t as oppressed as I am as a trans woman today. The very idea of that is laughable to me. Remember Philadelphia? That came out in 1993.

      • Was a rough framework Rebecca, wasn’t implying that it was a perfect analogy. That said, I believe that rights for the trans community in the US will come at a much quicker pace than it has for the LGB component by and large in the last 50 years.

  9. “Pity is not the same as respect.”

    I feel like you summed up so much right there. I hadn’t heard about this movie but I’m less than impressed based on this review. If only the people making these movies were listening.

  10. So disappointed reading this. It doesn’t come out over here until after xmas so hasn’t gotten much coverage yet. I was hoping it would be good. Obviously, a cis man is not the ideal choice (and that’s being kind) but I had hoped, from a brief interview clip I saw with Jared Leto, where he said that he had spent time with trans women listening to their stories and taken seriously the responsibility of the role etc etc, that it wouldn’t be so bad. Ah Hollywood. Why am I surprised when you do this every time?

    • “Spent time with trans women.” LOL. To most cis people this means something like, “ran into someone who looked like a trans woman at a party/at a bar/on the sidewalk and asked her a bunch of invasive and/or irrelevant questions for ten minutes, making her feel horrible and humiliated (something I didn’t acknowledge or even become aware of), and allowing me to say for the next ten years ‘hey, I have friends who are transgenders!’ whenever I want to impress people about how worldly and enlightened I am.” I’m guessing Jared Leto’s research for this film was, um, problematic. I am not at all surprised about this movie; it’s exactly what anyone would expect who understands the nature of how trans women are oppressed in our society.

  11. Just think: In only 20 years the benchmark portrayal of trans women has gone from Buffalo Bill to Rayon. Instead of seeing us as murderous monsters, now they see us as pathetic monsters. Either way, we’re meant to die; but hey, there’s progress! :(

    • Yeah. Now its “You’re dead, but we sure are sad about it!”

      I suppose that’s kind of where we were with gay men in Philadelphia, so yeah, the 20 years behind thing seems about right.

      • Um. . .I’m pretty sure people were actually supposed to identify with Tom Hanks’ character, which is definitely not the case with Jared Leto’s character. Cis people need to stop with this “20 years behind thing.” It’s preemptively giving you giving you credit for easing up on your oppression of trans women at some point in the future, which is hardly something I’m banking on. We are not “20 years behind” gay men. We occupy a entirely different universe than gay men, always have, and always will for as long as cissexism and transmisogyny puts us at the lowest position in the sex/gender/sexuality pyramid, the ultimate freaks and monstrosities that exist to lift up and/or normalize everyone else.

  12. thanks for the article – promos haven’t come out here yet but i’ll be looking at them now with a very critical eye

  13. It really seems like Jared Leto didn’t do any research at all for his character. “Unbelievably impossible person”? Give me a fucking break, you’re an actor, read a book.

  14. Should have known better than to get my hopes up. (Only heard about the movie because they used a Tegan and Sara song)

  15. Another unfortunate case of the woman existing solely for the growth of the straight male character. And then dying when she has outlived her use to him.

    We need more stories where members of our community are the subjects, rather than the objects.

    Our stories have value all their own, regardless of what straight white men can learn from us.

  16. Wow, that’s some bullshit. What are some movies that portray trans* people well? I’ve seen Paris Is Burning and Boys Don’t Cry, I’d like to see more though

  17. Idk. I really liked the film. I think it’s an important film for America, specifically because the main character is a cis straight male. I felt that the film is not only about AIDS, but also a vehicle to present a negative perspective on the FDA, the power they hold, and how it can be abused.
    There should be more stories told about the AIDS epidemic it combines so many of the shadowy parts of our nation: bigotry, corruption, ignorance, greed, etc. And on the positive side: unity, courage, empathy… This is one of those stories, and I feel the Woodroof character, the white male
    bigot, is still very much alive in our extremely polarized society, and is exactly the kind of person who needs to hear the story the most.
    I have no comment on the Rayon character. Except now that I know she is fictional I do find her death and drug addiction storyline to be completely unnecessary.

  18. not saying it’s a worthwhile film, not saying i would ever care to watch it (hate the damsel in distress stories is all) – but the total, emphasised, in your face straightness was necessary, for you ‘awesome’ ‘progressives’ not to push your ‘theories’.

  19. I’ve only seen two of previews but my initial reaction was that this was just an Oscar bait movie for McConaughey and Leto. I was already annoyed about the media falling over themselves to congratulate Leto on taking such a “risk” and his “bravery”. BS!!! Since when is it brave to play a caricature? It would have been a far better movie had they actually worked on the character instead of going with lame, old, tired tropes.

    When I first heard about the movie I hoped they wouldn’t screw it up. *sigh*

    Thanks for confirming what I suspected. I will definitely PASS on this nonsense!!!

    • Yeah. . .I think this is supposed to be amazing because it shows Jared Leto’s commitment to being an actor. He underwent this incredible transformation! The film world sees this as the same thing as Robert De Nero gaining 60 pounds to play Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull or Nicole Kidman wearing a prosthetic nose to play Virginia Woolf in the Hours. If Leto wins an Oscar for this, I’m probably going to have to avoid cis people for a month, because I’m guessing a lot of “friends”/neighbors/acquaintances/random people in bars will want to talk to me about it. I need to give them time to reset back to whether I’m getting my dick chopped of, if I love RuPaul’s Drag Race, and how they once knew someone in college who was a trans man.

  20. loved this article. I was excited when i first heard about this movie as Glaad pointed out in their report there was 0 representation of trans people last year in Hollywood. I wanted to go see it to show my support for including a trans character but after reading this i won’t. I hate that so many of us already have to have our expectations lowered about representation before we have even seen the movie especially when they turn out to be correct. After listening to the stars talk about this movie and see jennifer gardner not know that t**nny was a slur and jared leto using that word and t**nsvestite i was annoyed that he knows he is playing a trans charcter and he can’t even spend 30 minutes to research what is ok and what is’nt ok to say. Also by misgendering rayon it meant that a lot of people thought she was a cross dresser as a lot of interviewrs needed jared leto to clarify. This is why cis-men should not be playing trans characters as another commenter pointed out they think just because they had to deal with a small amount of oppression for 5 mins at whole foods suddenly they know what it actually feels like . It will become even more problematic when he is nominated for an Oscar and everyone believes this to be a respectful portrayal. They need to understand that a cis person playing a trans character is very different from a straight person playing a gay character.

  21. i was looking forward to this film, and then i heard that interview with Jared Leto on Fresh Air, and started to rethink it. thanks for the critique – it helped me put my finger on what exactly bothered me about that interview!

  22. I had not seen anything but the trailer walking into this film, and walking out there were several things I really liked about it. The main thing being I’ve worked in the field of HIV for 15+ years and was *so* surprised to see an AIDS film about a non-gay man. Since historically it has been a disease conflated with queerness, it is really important to have this narrative told.

    Additionally, I did not find him to be a hero whatsoever! He was a character, but nothing said hero to me. He was as self-serving as he was helpful, he grew a lot in the process, but I disagree with that critique.

    I also appreciated the fact that it never fully identified how the main character got HIV. Yes, it opens with a sex scene – have you noticed how many movies do that? and there is the allusion to him having gotten HIV through sex, so it kinda makes sense. But he also pauses on IV drug use and MSM (and am I mis-remembering that there may have been a flash of a man – alluding to a sexual encounter with a man)? Anyway, that’s not the point of the movie, which is why I appreciated that whole element.

    I hear ya all loud and clear that transfemale actresses should play transfemele charachters, and it sounds like Jared Leto was pretty redic in his interviews, and that is not cool. But what a great job embodying the character he was given – I turned to my friend mid-movie to say “where’s Jared Leto?” This is not to say that it was necessary to have Rayon’s character die before the main character, but honestly, it was a story of the two of them, and she also had AIDS and didn’t stop her drug abuse. Even though it doesn’t swap the trans* narrative fully, I think that the film painted a fuller picture, with more layers, of a transwoman, than many films or tv shows/mainstream media does.

    But again, I think the reason for seeing the film is the way it adds to the narrative of HIV/AIDS, and as one other commenter said, how involved pharma is in curbing (or spreading, or profiting from!) such diseases. And despite what the actors may say in interviews – they both did great jobs in the film, and I think that should count for something, cis or not.

    • The fact that Leto did a great job (a point I’d actually disagree with, but one I’ll concede for the sake of argument) doesn’t change the fact that Rayon is a caricature (and part of that is absolutely Leto’s performance). Fiction does not exist in a vacuum. Embodying Rayon effectively doesn’t change the nature of her character or her narrative, and definitely doesn’t free the filmmakers (including the actors) from the larger cultural context.

      As for Woodroof as a hero, regardless of whether or not he meets your personal standards for heroism, the film presents him unambiguously as heroic. Not just a hero but THE hero. He is repeatedly idealized and glorified. For example:


      • I appreciate your review and desire to make us all more critical viewers of what we see portrayed. I will continue to recommend the film for its AIDS narrative as well as the resilience against pharma, but with caution.

    • “This is not to say that it was necessary to have Rayon’s character die before the main character, but honestly, it was a story of the two of them.”

      I don’t understand this criticism of the movie. What the hell was she going to do, LIVE? She had AIDS!. In the time the movie was set in there was little anyone knew about the disease and little treatment for it. OF COURSE SHE DIED.

  23. Lord save us from the twenty-somethings who think they know everything! I moved to the Castro in the 70’s and Rayon is ENTIRELY consistent with dozens of people I knew, some of which, like her, are no more. First, it is NEVER clear from the movie that Rayon is trans-ANYTHING. Back in the 80’s most of us had no idea what we wanted to be but there were lots and lots of gay men who dressed like Rayon, and even suffered from boob-envy, but never wanted to actually BE a woman. So requiring a rigorously defined “trans-woman actor” to play the part is idiotic, unless you are directing the film. Second, one of the things I, as a queer person, truly long for is being defended, no matter whether I need it or not. So I found the moment in the supermarket and the response I read on Leto’s face VERY authentic. I also liked the tenderness between Leto and Garner, one of the great joys of being a trans woman is when you find someone with a vagina who accepts you for what both of you are, despite your inconvenient extra parts. That was something few straight people understand. Labels suck. Rayon was gloriously ambiguous and I loved that.

  24. I’d never heard of this movie and the cis savior trope wasn’t at all surprising, but hot damn this is a great breakdown and critique. Now I just want to print it out and go staple it to the heads of Borten and a few others. >[

  25. I respectfully disagree with a lot of what’s been said here:

    1. Because this film is meant to encapsulate the ‘Buyer’s Club’ phenomena, we are obliged to extrapolate the portrayal of every character as a statement about whatever group each character belongs to. Or in other words, take this micro portrayal and convert it to macro.

    A: Not necessarily. Transpeople are not a homogeneous group, and there are as many differences among them as there is between them and other groups. I read Rayon’s character as a tragic, but lovable and human character that just happens to be trans. Her personality and habits are incidental, and not meant to portray a group as diverse as the trans community.

    2. That Rayon’s portrayal as a hapless drug addict can only be read as well… just that. A hapless drug addict.

    A: Rayon doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is strongly implied that her plight is a result of her father being a transphobic asshole. There is some truth in that. Someone on this site mentioned earlier the poorer health and crime outcomes for transphobic people, and I’m willing to bet that much of that mistreatment comes from trans-people’s parents failing them to offer them support and/or abusing them. So what Rayon said to her father (‘You got your wish, I have AIDS’) was indispensable for understanding her.
    Personally I think that an understanding of the trans experience ought to involve a recognition of the discrimination they face, as well as some of the terrible consequences. That’s why a ‘tragic’ trans individual is not in itself problematic.

    3. That the portrayal of drug abuse is a statement about self-control, and cannot just as validly be understood as a statement about individual differences in susceptibility to addiction and relapse.

    A: It is well known that, for reasons that we don’t fully understand, some people cope differently with addiction. Some can quit cold turkey, others are chronic abusers until they die. Some of that is related to stress levels and other to biological and genetic predispositions. To say that, ‘because one person gets over it and another doesn’t’ implicates self-control is out of ignorance of this fact.

  26. your critique reminds me of that scene in th l word when Mark is trying to apologize to Jenny for the cameras and he says “living with you and Shane has chnaged me as a man and made me a better person” and Jenny says “its not a womans job to make a man better. my sexuality and existence isnt here for you. should i be happy that i did that? because im not mark.” and i know thats not exactly what she said, but damn that had struck me as so hard. its not our job as queers, or women to make shitty people better at our own expense. and Rayon is that from what you said. she’s just a way for that other guy to develop and its at her expense as a trans woman.

  27. Perfect read. I had been hearing about this movie for a while in trans circles and had a queasy sort of feeling about it

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