When I first saw the trailer for Disclosure, I was excited. I was really fucking excited. I knew it was going to further the conversation and bring more trans stories mainstream. I wanted to learn about the representation of trans people. I wanted to learn about my community’s history. From my community. I even told my mom to watch it in an effort to work up the courage to come out to her as nonbinary
I don’t know a lot about where I come from, where my transness comes from, where I can see people like me. I pressed play hoping for community and representation. And I don’t think I really got that. I felt if anything, more isolated within the trans community. A community I’m trying to find my way into.
The documentary hit a lot of great points. Representation helps us figure out ourselves as well as help others understand us. They were also right when they said their shoddy or lack of representation harms them. But the only representation they seemed to care representation within the gender binary.
To be fair, they did mention nonbinary and genderqueer people. A whole two times. Asia Kate Dillon’s character in Billions gets a brief moment on the screen as well. But for a 1-hour 40-minute film, I have the right to expect more.
A 2015 survey said nonbinary people make up 35% of the trans community. So why can’t our representation be close to that, especially when the documentary is on trans representation itself? Even if they had said, “There isn’t a lot of representation of nonbinary people until recently” or had a nonbinary person interviewed talking about how trans people’s representation in the media affected them that would be something. Anything.
Some of the trans people interviewed in the film talk about how even if the representation they had was shoddy, it helped them figure out who they were. Imagine if you had no gender representation, having to figure it out on your own. Their leaving out nonbinary perpetrates the kind of harm they say they want to stop.
Nonbinary people face invalidation from people outside and within the LGBTQ community, doubting our identity or diagnosing us as confused or not able to choose. It’s the bisexuality of genders. The last thing we need right now is to be further ostracized from our own trans brothers and sisters.
And maybe they didn’t mean to leave us out the way they did. Maybe we really did slip their minds through the writing process, filming, and post-production. But then I don’t know what’s worse: no one saying anything the whole time it was being made or if someone did, they were ignored.
I’m tired of nonbinary people being left when we talk about gender. The trans experience encompasses the experience of anyone who identifies as trans, and that should extend into our representation in the media and in the overall conversation. If we’re going to talk about transgender people, we need to make sure we encompass all transgender people. Otherwise, we’re no better than the system we claim we want to end.
It’s an important film, and I’m grateful we have it, but I can’t help but feel disappointed. In the film for forgetting to save a seat for me and my nonbinary siblings and in myself for critiquing a film that does help the trans community and did help me as much as it could. This is the fun part about living in marginalized communities. We get so little representation that oversights become glaring omissions.
The film also said that having more representation in the media will make our “clumsy” representation not as glaring. I think that’s true. And I look forward to the day when nonbinary people have enough representation in the media where this documentary won’t feel like such a broad strike of erasure.