GLAAD calls out ‘shockingly awful’ history of transgender images in film and demands MPAA reconsider rating of The Weinstein Company’s ‘3 Generations’

Trans woman launches Change.org petition after first mainstream film to portray a trans teen receives restricted ‘R’ rating from MPAA
April 20, 2017

Matt Goodman
Associate Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8028
mgoodman@glaad.org

New York – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today continued calls for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to reconsider its decision to give the upcoming transgender-inclusive film ‘3 Generations’ a restricted ‘R’ rating. GLAAD also announced a Change.org petition launched by Blair Durkee, a transgender woman in South Carolina, which also urges the MPAA to reconsider its decision and highlights how the current lack of transgender images in film negatively impacts transgender youth.

The Weinstein Company’s ‘3 Generations’ follows Ray, a teenage boy who is also transgender and is played by Elle Fanning. In the film, Ray’s mother, played by Naomi Watts, and his grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon, advocate for Ray and come to accept him for who he is.

Graduate student Blair Durkee’s petition calls for the community to join her in calling on the MPAA to reconsider its decision in part because of how trans images in the media played a role in her upbringing:

“I saw characters that I could look at and see myself reflected in – and that made a huge difference in my life… It breaks my heart when I think about those kids who won’t be able to see this movie because of its 'R' rating. This is a story about them, being denied to them, simply because the MPAA doesn’t know what to do with the subject matter.”

To sign her petition: https://www.change.org/p/motion-picture-association-of-america-change-the-rating-of-3-generations-to-pg-13

GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, sent a letter to the MPAA Chairman Christopher Dodd and Chairman Joan Graves earlier this week. The full letter be viewed via GLAAD’s Twitter here: https://twitter.com/glaad/status/854437338965037056 

In the letter, Ellis calls out the film industry’s poor history of telling trans stories:

“The film industry has a shockingly awful history when it comes to telling the stories of transgender people. For over 50 years, transgender characters have been used as fodder in films where they were either psychopathic killers, deviant freaks, or pathetic victims. In GLAAD’s most recent report on the film industry, we counted just one transgender character in mainstream film in 2016 and that character existed simply to be laughed at and mocked. “

GLAAD most recent Studio Responsibility Index, which tracks LGBTQ images in film, showed an abysmally low number of transgender characters in films from major Hollywood studios. According to GLAAD’s research, ‘3 Generations’ is the first mainstream film ever to portray a transgender teenager. Belgian drama Ma Vie en Rose, which received the Golden Globe Award in 1997 for Best Foreign Language Film and a GLAAD Media Award as well, was about a 7-year-old transgender girl. It was given an R rating from the MPAA. GLAAD also found that there has never been a transgender character in a film rated G, PG or PG-13 with the exception of films like Hot Pursuit, Instructions Not Included, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, all of which were rated PG-13 and received criticism for their defamatory depictions of transgender women.

Ellis’ letter goes on to point out the strong messages seen in ‘3 Generations’ and argue why ‘R’ is too strong of a rating:

All that differentiates the film from other PG-13 films is a few instances of strong language. The film does not include graphic violence, drug use, or nudity – it merely portrays a modern family. The Williams Institute at UCLA estimates that there are 150,000 transgender youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States. These are families who deserve to have their story told in a way that's accessible to those most affected.

The Motion Picture Association of America should represent all Americans, including transgender youth.

The MPAA is scheduling a call with GLAAD to discuss the film’s rating. GLAAD plans to continue sharing stories of trans people and parents of trans youth leading up to 3 Generations’ premiere on Friday, May 5 as part of its work to advocate the film industry for increased trans storytelling.