There is much to like about Muffin Top: A Love Story. Lots of smart funny women, starting with director and co-writer Catherine Michon and continuing through Melissa Peterman, Marcia Wallace and so on. It feels a bit like a collection of comic bits, but it is an essentially empowering movie
Ms. Michon feels good about a transgender character in the film who has “a great perspective on female beauty.”
The character is played by a born female woman, Dot-Marie Jones, but all her dialogue is looped, her own voice replaced by male voice.
In this voice, the character ends up sounding like a drag queen, a gay man who is a fashion stylist. She doesn’t sound like any transwoman I know.
Characters are just puppets of their authors, doing the bidding of the story. I understand why Ms. Michon wanted to get a drag voice into the tale, but because they had to appear on a talk show run by a second-wave academic feminist, they had to be woman-identified and have gone through hormone therapy which made them horny.
As a transperson, though, the character grated on me intensely, appearing false and rude. It felt completely disrespectful, a conflation that serves to offend both gay men and transpeople.
Transpeople are not props that can serve the story without any basis in real lives. The women characters in the story all represent archetypes that feel real and connected, even if they do act in a comedic way. I have little belief that Ms. Michon does know gay men who would respond as the trans character does, but I doubt she knows many transwomen who would.
Even if she considered hiring a transwoman to play the part of a transwoman, the actress would probably have some integrity wanting to bring some realism not in the part. With an composite character, a born female woman and a male voice actor, trans is completely unrepresented and is instead erased.
I wanted to like the movie. I liked many parts of it. But that empowering transgender portrayal? Not trans in any way that I know, and clearly rude, disempowering and nasty.