This weekend’s Academy Awards are buzzing about Glenn Close’s new film “Albert Nobbs.”
Ms. Close and supporting actress Janet McTeer have both been nominated for their portrayal of women-passing-as-men in 19th century Ireland. Close plays Albert, a secretive and shy “man” who has worked for 17 years as the head butler of a posh Dublin hotel, all the while concealing the fact that he was once a she. McTeer plays Hubert, an outgoing, vivacious “man” living just as he chooses, though technically female as well. Meeting Hubert propels Albert into pursuing a long held dream of owning a successful tobacco shop, despite laws against women’s ownership.
Watching the trailer left me thinking about the lives of transgender folks today. I would like to be able to say that over the past 100 years we have become a more accepting and inclusive global community. When, in fact, if Albert were alive today, his life might have been much worse.
Last July, at noon on a Tuesday, two transgender women were walking down a main street in Antalya, Southern Turkey when they were descended upon by a group of 15 men wielding iron rods. They were badly beaten, tied up and paraded in front of a large crowd that had gathered, none of whom intervened nor called the police.
This was an attempted lynching, fueled by transphobic hate, and just one of hundreds of similar stories to reach the media last year. Transgender Europe reports that in 2011, 221 people were brutally murdered, on every continent except Antarctica, for doing nothing more than being transgender. In the US today, it is still legal in 34 states to fire someone if they are discovered to be transgender.
Glenn Close spent more than a decade struggling to get the support she needed to bring “Albert” to the silver screen. She told The New York Times that the psychological effect of finally completing the film was a sense of joyous closure. Stating, “there came a point where I asked, ‘Am I willing to live the rest of my life having given up on this?’ And I said, ‘No I won’t.’ ”
Ms. Close understands that this film’s importance stretches way beyond winning awards for convincingly playing a man. She recently stated about reactions to the film, “some people will change their point of view, and those who are either too old, or too blinkered, to accept the beauty of difference will just have to ‘die off’.”
Read more: academy awards, Albert Nobbs, Faces Of Change, Glenn Close, human rights, Kemal Ordek, Kiri Westby, Mr. Sadullah Ergin, Pink Life, transgender, Transrights, turkey, Turkish Ministry of Justice, urgent action fund for women's human rights
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