Outrage Watch: Last night’s ‘X-Files’ is being accused of transphobia

02.02.16 1 year ago

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Welcome to Outrage Watch, HitFix's semi-regular rundown of entertainment-related kerfuffles. Not feeling anxious enough already? Get your fix of righteous indignation below, and stay posted for outrage updates throughout the week.

Last night's Darin Morgan-scripted X-Files episode “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was the best-received episode of the series revival yet — our own Alan Sepinwall said it “lived up to every wish and hope I had for it” — but not everyone was in love with the “monster-of-the-week” throwback.

Enter Jezebel contributor Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, who writes that while she enjoyed “Were-Monster” up to a point, Morgan “fumbled [the episode's] 'trans narrative,'” which involved a monster-bashing transgender prostitute played by former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant D.J. “Shangela” Pierce. 

The crux of Escobedo Shepherd's argument revolves around three major plot points:

1. The prostitute Annabelle is “cast stereotypically as a sex worker”; 

2. The fact of Annabelle's transition is shoehorned in with the “deeply non sequitur” line of dialogue that has the character proclaiming, “I transitioned last year.”

“Unrealistic and insulting to trans women,” Escobedo Shepherd writes, “it”s just the beginning of this potentially good, utterly disappointing episode.”

3. Most pertinently, the experiences of transgender individuals' experiences are analogized to the episode's titular monster — a horny toad who was transformed into a toad-human hybrid against his will. As Escobedo Shepherd puts it: “Giving Morgan the benefit of the doubt…[the analogy in question] may have been the writer”s awkward stab at trying to increase trans awareness? I guess? But tantamount beneath that was the episode”s core, gross plot point: that trans people”s experiences are at least nominally parallel to that of a horny toad who morphs into a man, and that trans narratives are still fodder for cheap, hateful jokes-a premise it”s hard to believe even exists in 2016, or any year.”

It bears noting that this isn't the first time The X-Files has been accused of transphobia. The Season 1 episode “Gender Bender” has also weathered criticism for a plot that revolves around an alien capable of changing genders who goes on a sex-fueled killing spree. This YouTube video does a good job of breaking down the controversy:

Not surprisingly, Escobedo Shepherd isn't the only one who came away offended by last night's episode. Here's a sampling of more outrage from the Twitters:

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You can read Escobedo Shepherd's full critique here

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