'We Know the Devil' Taught Me to Be Proud

Transphobic media made coming out a terrifying proposition. 'We Know the Devil' slyly points at a better way forward.

Jennifer Unkle

"Einhorn is a man!"

I am a child, nestled in a sleeping bag on our carpeted computer room floor, staring at a 10-inch television. My parents taped a copy of  Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, edited by ABC for a network audience. In ABC's mind, Jim Carrey violently vomiting into a toilet after discovering the woman he dated was a former field goal kicker fits right in with his animal noises and obsession with flatulence.

He thinks so little of this woman's humanity that as an answer to the film's whodunit, he strips her in front of her superiors with the help of NFL superstar Dan Marino. In these filmmakers' minds, encountering a trans woman is just another slapstick gag, on par with a well-placed banana peel. Could a banana peel ever be respected or loved?

"Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me."

I am a teenager, watching Buffalo Bill dance in front of a camera in  The Silence of the Lambs. She is painted as grotesque, wearing an ill-fitting wig and applying makeup beside (not over) masculine facial features to highlight them. It's why she's sewing a suit made of women's flesh: she's meant to be an invader, a predator who has the gall to think she can fit in with the rest of the girls.  My eyes turn to the ground, unable to stomach the rest of the scene. I yearn to be a woman, but the films and cartoons I've consumed warn me that even suggesting such a thing could ruin my life. Best to keep it bottled up and continue as usual.

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