Hollywood's Newest Tasteless Plot Device: Weaponized Gender Reassignment Surgery
Hey Hollywood, how’s it going? We need to have a little talk. Look, I know we’ve been saying for a long time that we want more female-driven movies— and that female-driven action movies would be especially cool— BUT THIS IS NOT WHAT WE MEANT. Walter Hill, who, among other things, produced the Alien franchise, will be directing a movie he co-wrote, which bears the punchline-esque title Tomboy, a Revenger’s Tale.
The script… centers on an ace assassin who is double-crossed by gangsters and falls into the hands of rogue surgeon known as “The Doctor,” who turns him into a woman. The hitman (now a hitwoman) sets out for revenge, aided by a nurse named Johnnie, who also has secrets.
Yup, Sigourney Weaver’s character TOTALLY BURNS Michelle Rodriguez’s by turning HIM into a HER. CRAZY, RIGHT? This is like Hollywood’s multi-million dollar version of a Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume. Gender reassignment surgery is not, as GLAAD— who is pissed— puts it “a sensationalistic plot device.” GLAAD’s director of programs for transgender media made it clear that they are not onboard with this movie.
We are at a crucial moment in the public’s understanding of transgender issues, and stories like these have the potential to undermine the progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Okay, I will say that this gender reassignment-as-revenge has been done really well (at least) once before (in a movie I don’t even want to mention because that point is the mega spoilery twist in a great movie, but if you Google “2011 thriller sex reassignment” you’ll find it), but I for one see that film (which again I don’t even want to name for fear of ruining it) as a MAJOR exception, not as proof that forced gender reassignment is a super cool plot device. This other film, for one thing, did not base its story around this fact; instead, it was a devastating, horrifying twist caused by an already monstrous character. It was also never played as (at least as I saw it) anything resembling a sexy Face/Off-style gimmick. What do we think the odds are that Tomboy (and oh my god can someone please punch that title in its reductive face?) does anything but sensationalize, bastardize, and exploit the spotlight that is currently on transgender issues?