Is it responsible of the band All-American Rejects to portray trans sex workers in this way?
“Gives You Hell” band All-American Rejects have released a new EP with the songs “Sweat” and “Close Your Eyes,” both tracks appear on a video short which has already been generating some controversy.
In the first part of the video narrative, frontman Tyson Ritter portrays Betsy a cross-dressing sex worker by night who goes home to his nuclear family before daybreak.
The “daytime” Ritter hosts a family gathering which becomes a little bit stressful because he realizes there is still nail polish on his fingers from the night before.
The video has come under some scrutiny from the transgender community. Some say that a straight, white, cis-male portraying a transgender woman who chooses sex work is disrespectful and dangerous especially since these women are under attack and being killed at an alarming rate.
Ritter has said of the video, “The film is a story about this functioning identity crisis and expectations on how we’re supposed to be in a public place,”
Some critics also think Ritter’s portrayal perpetuates the stereotype that “men in dresses” are deviants who get their sexual fix from paying johns.
Often times the sex industry is the only place for some people to make money because of discrimination or fear of being persecuted in mainstream society.
Ritter’s performance seems to indicate that a man with a fetish can don a dress and wig and walk the streets then go home to his well-to-do suburban family to deal with domestic problems.
Back in 2013 Jared Leto was criticized for trans-misogyny when he portrayed Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, a role many activists said should have been played by a trans person.
"Given that transgender people are invisible in contemporary media, it becomes problematic that Leto is taking the role of a trans person when there are trans actors out there trying to find roles and work … the stories of under-represented, oft-ignored and misunderstood communities may be best told by the people who live those lives," wrote Chelsea Hawkings in Salon.