Monday, April 21, 2014

SVU Raises Questions

The other day, I was watching Law & Order: SVU. It's admittedly an addiction of mine. But this particular episode made me think a lot about not only theories of masculinity, but gender roles as well.

In this episode, a boyfriend appears to be covering up for his girlfriend, who is suspected of committing a murder. Obviously, the plot twists and turns throughout the course of the story, but the biggest plot twist comes when it is revealed that the girlfriend is biologically male. She intends to get sex-reassignment surgery, but her boyfriend is unaware of her biological sex. When he finds out, he allows her to go down for the murder -- disgusted by the fact that she has a penis. But then the issue is presented: what jail does this woman go to?

The district attorneys argue on whether or not she can go to a women's prison, which is eventually denied. Instead, this woman is forced into a male prison, and subsequently is abused and I believe murdered in the end.

How is this possibly fair? She identifies as a woman. She is in the process of becoming a woman. Why can't she go to a women's jail? Further, it brings up the violent nature of masculinity in a prison setting, because it was basically known before she entered the prison that she would be assaulted, yet they forced her into the jail regardless. I understand that this is a TV show, but what of the transgendered people who have to be incarcerated? Do they conform to pretend that they are the sex their biology represents? Or do they hold true to the person that they are, potentially risking everything?

1 comment:

Deborah Dietrich said...

Hello Ashley,

I can't wait to see this episode. It brings to light a real issue.

Fifteen years ago I was married for the first time. My best friend was a trannie who had both boobs and a penis. She always wore the most amazing dresses and high heels. We went to a bar in our hometown of Key West to celebrate. Key West is an openly gay town and my friend was a bit of a local celebrity. We were thrown out of the bar that night because she used the women's bathroom.

Acknowledging rampant male homophobia, entering a male bathroom is as dangerous for a trannie in Key West, as it is for a college coed. Would business change there tune if they were required to have a separate bathroom for those deemed as "other"