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Buffalo Bill (Really Not a Football Post, Promise)

I’m not totally sure what is going on here, but for the past few days now I’ve been depressed and ornery for no particular reason. I’m pretty sure it’s hormonal, because others have reported similar cycles that I seem to have as well. This doesn’t make total sense to me since my daily dosage is the same and I lack a uterus and other reproductive plumbing that I understand is the root cause of monthly cycles. Then again, most of my medical knowledge was delivered 30 years ago by the gin soaked cutups on M.A.S.H. Damn you Trapper John! Well, I’m going to use my sense of misplaced irritation and direct it toward something we have all hated for a long time. Silence of the Lambs.

Locally speaking, no one here was real thrilled with the nickname ‘Buffalo Bill’ being slapped on Jame Gumb, the evil psychotic prick in the movie. I don’t have any huge love for sports, but I still didn’t care for the local defamation. Of course I cared for the defamation to the trans community even less. That’s right, ol’ Bill was allegedly a transsexual who was trying to right natures’ wrong by kidnapping women and starving and lotioning them in a well that’s in his basement for some reason, all to skin them later to add to the ‘woman suit’ he picked up sewing to create. Apparently the author felt that this was a plausible option trans people may consider from time to time.

Look, I’m not saying that all trans people really have all their issues buttoned down tight. There are, well, less-hinged sisters out there and yes, there are problems. Big difference though between being a bit flakey and an abhorrent avatar of pure evil. For the most part, we don’t really tend to be violent people. Well, except for a rare few like that other Michelle who killed her wife (not to be confused with this Michelle). If anything, we tend to feel uncomfortable with aggression due to the perception that it is a male trait.

OK, instead of rambling on like I do, I’m going to narrow down the three things I really hate about this story/ novel/ movie. To start, this movie has two villains. One of them is such a dangerous, diabolical and frightening character that there is a need to dress him up to look even scarier in order to wheel him around town. Compared to Buffalo Bill though, the trans character, he seems pretty all right as long as you aren’t on his shit list. In fact, it might even be interesting to have coffee with him and chat a bit, as long as he didn’t feel the need to cook anything for the occasion. Bill on the other hand has no redeeming qualities. Creepo look, creepo voice, collects bugs, has horrible fashion sense, and dwells in a small slovenly house with a disproportionately large, labyrinthine basement that contains a dry well. Oh, plus the whole kidnapping and skinning thing. That’s our trans representation right there folks.

“Well Michelle, it is a horror movie and it’s not like this hasn’t been done to other groups. Not everyone thinks scientists are out there trying to create human centipedes now.” Yeah, true, no one comes off good in horror movies. At the time this came out though, trans representation was limited to Dr Frank. Fucking Dr Frank. Two popular representations in like 15 years, with a trend going extremely negative. Don’t even throw that ‘Tootsie’ shit at me either. She wasn’t even a real CD. For every evil scientist, you have a dozen hero versions out there saving the world on the silver screen. I suppose wax museum curators and clowns are in the same boat, but I’ll leave them to take that up in the more popular wax and clowning blogs.

Finally, the big cop out. Sure, in the movie the sadistic cannibal casually remarks that Buffalo Bill only “believes” himself to be a transsexual. I’ve actually read about people defending the depiction on that one half-assed line. Oh, well sure, everyone will pick up on that right away because they are all too aware what transsexuals really are. We can all breathe easy now. Never mind the fact that in terms of diagnosis, without a post-mortem autopsy, we don’t exactly have a lot of corroborating physical evidence for our status other than we are what we say we are. If there was a blood test or something, don’t you think we would be carrying the results around in our purses? “Eat this Jimmy! I tested T!”

It is just a movie, and now an old one at that, and I am just being grouchy for no good reason, but still. It sucks when the media casts us in a dark light. For many people, that is the only trans exposure they have. Someone who has only seen ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and then encounters me, I have to wonder if they are getting all sketchy because I whipped out some hand lotion or happen to be shopping for a new basket.


About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

3 responses »

  1. “…the evil psychotic prick in the movie.”

    Don’t you mean _psychopathic_? There’s a big difference between psychosis and psychopathy. Psychosis is losing touch with reality, where you think the FBI is spying on you (even though you have no good reason to believe) or the walls are talking to you or you hear voices that seem to come from outside yourself even though no one’s around or your thoughts become fragmented and scatter making it difficult to speak clearly or do basic daily tasks. Psychopathy is where you lack empathy (even though you can understand what others are feeling), are manipulative, are impulsive, and do bad stuff. Psychosis is actually quite treatable with antipsychotic medications and then therapy to prevent its reemergence, but psychopathy is generally consider to be untreatable.

    Schizophrenia is a particularly severe and persistent form of psychosis. If you would like to read about the psychotic experiences of a smart and successful woman, who first became psychotic at age 16, you can read it here:

  2. The movie was stupid but to some scary, scary stuff! Having a Transsexual with a large Basement living next door to you, I mean who would have guessed.
    I don’y think my neighbors have seen this movie they haven’t ran back into their homes yet when I’m out in my front yard, come to think about it, there is no Basements in my neighborhood, I wounder if they know this?
    Those damn Transsexual!!:)

  3. Hiya Sis,
    Just a quick thought, but outside of Western New York, Buffalo Bill usually evokes thoughts of the cowboy entertainer first.

    I continue to remain impressed with your wit. Even when you are rather on edge, you can still make me laugh even about serious subjects.

    I do agree that for many years images like this were among the first that came to mind when thinking of transsexuals. It is probably why many of us remained closeted for so long.

    Happily, the world is changing, but in order for it to continue to change we need to keep pointing out and understanding the harm done by these negative images. Great job of doing so once again.




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