A central motivation of the piece is to identify and catalogue these representations, drawing them together to situate them in relation to one another, re-contextualising each as a contribution to filmic transgender representation.This article first defines the key term ‘transgender’ and situates it in relation to Queer Studies and Transgender Studies.Transgender and queer scholars have effectively distinguished cinematic moments of transgendering as relevant to broader cultural and social conceptions and experiences of gender, and this article upholds the objectives of such work in its investigation of Australian transgender representations.
It then takes its focus back to the commencement of filmmaking to begin an investigation of transgender in mainstream Australian film leading up to the release of .
Just as Transgender Studies and Queer Studies locate and analyse assorted transgender representations in varying screens texts, so too does this article as it chronologically sets out instances of cinematic male-to-female transgender performance from the silent era until the late 1980s.
Considering a broad span of films unfortunately means there is not space to analyse each in the depth they deserve.
‘Film capitalizes on our most primary means of communication, employing visual images that move us deeply…
Each decade’s cultural anxiety and hope about gender is coded frame by frame in the celluloid representations of gender nonconformists’ (Mackenzie 1999, 206-7).
flounced onto cinema screens in 1994, it marked a significant transition in Australian cinematic representations of male-to-female transgender. This camp romp through the outback was the first mainstream Australian film to take the lives of gender-queer individuals as its central focus and explicitly address issues surrounding non-normative gender-identities and sexualities.Such a watershed in Australian screen culture was not, of course, created in a vacuum and much of the extensive scholarship on this film considers its role in Australia’s cultural and social history.However, there is a question regarding ’s triumphant arrival?Representations of male-to-female transgender have long existed in Australian cinema, with filmic gender-crossings appearing in diverse guises throughout the twentieth century.Although these depictions differ in terms of generic and historical positioning, they are contained in terms of medium, theme and timeframe, and together form a related body of work.This article acknowledges this history and traces male-to-female transgender representation in mainstream Australian cinema throughout the twentieth century, from silent era films and early ‘talkies’, to features of the ‘Australian Film Revival’ in the early 1970s, and even the 1980s ‘blokey’ blockbuster (Peter Faiman, 1986).