cover image We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV and Film

We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV and Film

Tre’vell Anderson. Andscape, $26.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-368-08173-3

Journalist Anderson’s stellar debut surveys pop culture representations of trans people. Criticizing the entertainment industry’s rocky history with trans stories, Anderson argues that such films as Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire perpetuate harmful stereotypes by suggesting that trans women and femmes are “men in wigs,” and that the graphic depictions of self-mutilation in Netflix’s 2018 film Girl, in which a cis actor plays a trans ballerina, are gratuitous and voyeuristic. Singling out reality TV as the “place where perhaps the best, most varied images of trans folks happen,” Anderson writes that trans model Isis King’s stints on America’s Next Top Model “awakened something within me.” Among other “hella personal” takes on trans figures, Anderson devotes a chapter to how Laverne Cox’s rise to fame after starring in Orange Is the New Black inspired them to start “using the language of ‘gender nonconforming’ to describe my unfolding gender expression.” Anderson’s keen critical eye and humor (“I’ve been rooting for everybody Black since I was in utero, honey”) add to a deeply personal take on the trans film and TV canon that emphasizes the ability of such stories to open “a world of possibilities of what life could be and look like.” Incisive and candid, this dazzles. (May)