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“Trans Identities in the French media” NeMLA 2020 - Call for abstracts (NeMLA 2020)

Organization: NeMLA
Event: NeMLA 2020
Categories: Interdisciplinary, French, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy
Event Date: 2020-03-05 to 2020-03-08 Abstract Due: 2019-09-30

“Transsexualité, transidentité: un tabou français?” (“Transsexuality, transidentity: a French taboo?”[1]). Such was the title chosen by the online French news magazine France Info to illustrate an article published in 2015 that discussed the lack of visibility transsexuals and transgender people still suffer from in French society. Indeed, while there has been an increasing visibility of transsexual and transgender individuals on film and TV in recent years (TV documentaries such as Devenir il ou elle (Lorène debaisieux, 2017) and Être fille ou garçon: Le Dilemme des transgenres (Clarisse Verrier, 2017) follow the lives of adolescents as they are transitioning from one gender to another; director Sébastien Lifshitz dedicated a documentary to one of France’s first transsexuals to have undergone sex reassignment surgery with Bambi (2013); while short-lived, the TV series Louis(e) (2017) had a MtoF character as its main protagonist), the number of transphobic acts in France has continued to increase over the past years.[2] Moreover, the prevalence of the French nation state weight heavily on the recognition of trans identities in order to produce a narrative that avoids any kind of communautarisme, so that trans identities are integrated within the republican values of the country to appear less “frightening” to the general public. As noted by Todd W Reeser, this has a direct impact on the way trans identities are portrayed in the media: “in journalistic prose, trans narratives, documentaries, and TV programs, transgender subjects are frequently defined through nation-based discourses, institutions, and state-sanctioned forms of power […]” (Reeser, 4).[3]    

Using these observations as a starting point, this panel wishes to focus on how trans identities have been portrayed in recent years (from the 1990’s to the present time) in the French media. Abstracts are welcome regarding the representation of trans identities in cinema (fiction films, documentaries), television (news coverage, TV series, TV films and documentaries), as well as in newspapers and magazines. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

-the evolution of the representation of trans identities in news coverage.

-transsexual/transgender characters in films and series.

-pitfalls and biases regarding the way trans identities are portrayed in the French media.

-the analysis of a specific body of work.


Enquiries and submissions should be made at the following address:

Dr Romain Chareyron (Assistant Professor of French, University of Saskatchewan): roc104@usask.ca

[1] Source: https://www.francetvinfo.fr/societe/transsexualite-transidentite-un-tabou-francais_891103.html
[2] The number of homophobic and trans-phobic acts officially counted in France in 2016 had risen by almost 20% (source: https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/les-actes-homophobes-et-transphobes-ont-augmente-de-presque-20-en-2016_1906740.html)
[3] Reeser, Todd W. “TransFrance”, L’Esprit créateur 53 (1), Spring 2013, pp.4-14.



Dr Romain Chareyron