UPDATE: Netflix has responded and has changed the description of “Boys Don’t Cry” to accurately reflect the movie’s storyline. The summary now says: “Based on actual events, director Kimberly Peirce’s powerful, often harrowing drama stars Hilary Swank (in an Oscar-winning performance) as Brandon Teena, a transgender young man searching for love and acceptance in a small Midwestern town. But even as he forges a deep connection with local beauty Lana (Chloë Sevigny), the prejudices of the community threaten to doom the fledgling romance.”
When I watched the movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” I was moved. It’s a rare occasion to see a movie about a transgender person, and even more rare to see a movie with a transgender person that is easy for transgender people to relate to.
In the movie, transgender teen Brandon Teena lives his life as a man, until locals discover that he was born female. The movie is a great commentary on what it’s like for transgender people, especially those living in towns that aren’t necessarily accepting.
Netflix, though, doesn’t seem to understand that the movie is about a transgender person. Their description of the movie is highly inaccurate and offensive. They refer to Brandon Teena using female pronouns and say that he “passes herself off as a boy… until the truth is revealed.” The description also says that the character shows “one woman’s voyage of self-discovery.”
“Boys Don’t Cry” is a movie about a transgender man, not a woman. The character should be referred to using male pronouns, because that was his preference. The notion that Teena was passing herself off as a boy but was truthfully a girl is particularly harmful to transgender people. The truth is that Teena was a boy and was expressing himself honestly, and to suggest otherwise is to say that being transgender isn’t legitimate. Furthermore, the movie isn’t about a woman’s voyage, it’s about a transgender man’s voyage, and how difficult it is for transgender men to live in a society that doesn’t understand and is disrespectful of transgender people.
Please ask Netflix to change their description of “Boys Don’t Cry” to accurately explain the movie’s storyline. The movie’s summary should show respect for the character’s transgender identity and should refer to him using male pronouns.
Photo credit: hinnosaar