By Haley Costen
Multi-media artist Chase Joynt presented a series of short films broadly dealing with the policies and practices of transgender orientation on Tuesday.
Joynt presented his latest films, “I’m Yours,” and “Akin,” along with the work of other queer and trans filmmakers, including Alexis Mitchell, Jess Mac, Chris Vargas and Greg Youmans.
Before showing the films, Joynt spoke of what inspired him to create films exploring representation. He also explained how his work is often at odds with prominent treatments of transgenderism in film, citing examples like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Crying Game.”
The project stemmed from Joynt’s personal need to find different kind of representations relating to transitioning.
“When I started transitioning there was pretty much one narrative attached to transitioning subjects in the media, which was one of being born in the wrong body, finding intervention through services, and emerging as a resolved human, free of struggle,” Joynt said. “And I thought, that is not my struggle.”
Joynt said a classroom visit by transgender activist and author Kate Bornstein was the first time he’d knowingly encountered a transgender person in public, and that the experience changed his way of thinking.
“Something happened to me sitting halfway up that lecture hall,” Joynt said. “It revolutionized my capacity to think about what it could mean to be a trans person in public making work.”
The first film Joynt presented, “I’m Yours,” was a commentary on the repetitive ways the media speaks to and about trans subjects. The film featured himself and trans artist Nina Arsenault answering probing and personal questions about their transitions.
Joynt also presented another film, “Akin,” which explores his relationship with his mother, who converted to Orthodox Judaism at the same time he was transitioning. He talks about their shared history of violence and the strength of their family being the survival of women, despite the fact that Joynt does not identify as a woman.
“The Break,” by Alexis Mitchell focused on the relationship between gender and the singing voice. The film features transgender singers speaking about their voices in relation to their personal and gendered identities.
Jess Mac’s film, “Feeling Reserved, Alexus’ Story,” is the first part of her project, “WHERE WE WERE NOT.” The film was an experimental animated documentary in collaboration with indigenous trans women in Saskatchewen.
In the film, a trans woman recounts how Saskatoon police arrested her for no reason and took her jacket and shoes before leaving her on an isolated dirt road in winter. The subject speaks about being marginalized and criminalized because of the local police force’s racism and prejudice.
Joynt called Chris Vargas and Greg Youman’s piece, “Work of Art! A Reality TV Special” a pop culture intervention. The film takes on mainstream LGBT representation through a creative reimagining of the reality TV show “Work of Art.” In the film, Vargas and Youman compete alongside “Work of Art” contestants and try to create the best “successfully failing” genderqueer piece of art.
Joynt also answered questions about his work and spoke about the issue of transgender policies at women’s colleges.
“I think it was nice to bring in someone who was more aware of the real complexity of transness, our experiences and narratives,” senior Dee Moore said. “As somebody who doesn’t identify as a woman at a women’s-centered space, it leaves a lot of confusion and inability to address it. I think showing these screenings gave space to something that we really don’t talk about.”