I know some transpeople have a downer on traditional British (i.e. English) pantomime. It’s all that travestie: men dressing as women and making fools of themselves on stage, whilst children learn that laughing at a guy in a frock is ‘de rigeur’. Or at the very least, socially sanctioned. Which maybe some of the little blighters translate into action outside the theatre. Hegemony of ideas does have a habit of making bad behaviour ‘OK’.
I used to hold this anti-panto’ position myself at one time, primarily because I used to feel very less confident than I do now. This of course, is a somewhat egocentric position (I nearly wrote selfish, but I’m not that self-flagellating) considering the issues that many transfolk have as they come out and find a niche for themselves in the world.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that the issue is not the jokes that our society has about cross-dressing. A sense of humour is a necessary asset for anyone who has to deal with the vagaries of frocks, accoutrements, make-up, and getting feckin’ shoes that fit. BUT the problem is that the if the ONLY message that our culture gives is that laughing at trannies is fine, then we create a nasty ghetto of thinking where cruelty lives unrestrained. We need alternative narratives that give a contrast to the ‘Ugly Sisters’ routine. Things that show us in a positive light. Unfortunately the UK is still a loooooong way from getting this right; but there is (I think) some hope at the end of the tunnel (for which, may we be truly thankful).
So, yeah… panto’ is just fine. As long as the joke’s not on me all the time.