Created by trans director Sam Feder and produced by Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, Disclosure is a documentary made about and by transgender people. Still, these voices are often ignored when creating films and shows, making a wrongful portrayal even harmful to the community.
Trans* is not a punchline
For a very long time, cross-dressing was considered illegal. But during that time, it was being used in comedy sketches as a punchline to jokes. Just look at The Jeffersons (1975), Bosom Buddies (1980), and even Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994). Although Jim Carrey is absolutely hilarious as Ace Ventura, the movie made a huge mistake in depicting trans* people. The villain turns out to be a man who dressed himself up as a woman to commit crimes. When people find out, they all start vomiting, and that is supposed to be the hilarious ending aka the punchline. We’re told by the media to be disgusted by the appearance of a trans* person, which is an incredibly damaging way of thinking.
Either trans* people are laughed at or they are portrayed as the criminal like in Silence of the Lambs (1991). The villain skins women to be able to take on the female form and to literally become them. These kinds of roles are fine, however, if these are the only portrayal the trans* community is getting, they can send the wrong message.
Let’s be clear, though, cross-dressing itself isn’t transphobic. But the assumption of it being funny and enhancing dangerous trans* stereotypes is. Transgender people are depicted as deviants, perverts, psychopaths, and killers. Because of these misconceptions, trans* people have a harder time coming out.