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The Hangover: Part II, Transphobic?

10 Jul Posted by in Genderqueer | 1 comment
The Hangover: Part II, Transphobic?

So what’s the deal with The Hangover: Part II?  I went to see the movie prior to reading any reviews or articles on it. I admit my opinion can be swayed, especially by negative feedback.  The movie itself was about as shallow and unimpressive as the first one, but sometimes we just need a stupid laugh and that it accomplished.

Several days after seeing the movie I started noticing facebook pages promoting a petition to ban all things Warner Bros.  I must say, I was taken aback. The petition was based on the fact that the transgender community was being mocked throughout the movie.  Indeed there is a scene that involves transwomen. The main characters follow a trail that leads them back to places they had been the night before yet have no recollection of. One of those places is a strip club in Bangkok. The scene unfolds in the back room with the strippers wandering throughout the dressing room. It makes reference to one of the male characters having had sex with one of the strippers and then the realization that the stripper is indeed a transwoman with an intact penis.

For me this was quite a pivotal moment. I was shocked, but not how many others seem to be.  I gave big props to Warner Bros. for having the gonads to show actual transwomen.  I remember thinking the exposure would be great for the trans community.  That people need to see this community exists, that they are real people, and that they are mainstream. I have always believed that exposure desensitizes people. This holds true for all communities that have faced the odds, prevailed and are now mainstream.  Most people don’t know what a transsexual or transgender person is, and even more certain they probably haven’t met one that they know of.  I thought Warner Bros. profiling the transwomen was a huge leap.  And I congratulate them.

The scene showed the characters obvious distaste for the sexual act he committed with the transwoman. However I think to say it degraded the trans community and mocked their existence is inaccurate.  If I, as a lesbian, were to awake from a stupor to find out that I slept with a man, would my repulsion mean I am mocking all thing about men? Would it make sense for straight men to petition everything I do because of my sexual preference?  Hardly.  The character was a straight male. There is no reason to believe he would be ok having a sexual encounter with someone that clearly doesn’t fit his orientation.  Big deal. We would all do that.  And we would all have friends that ribbed us for the incident just as his friends did throughout the rest of the movie.

The trans community is so small and so isolated.  It doesn’t quite fit into any other larger group comfortably.  Small sub cultures are always at risk for harsher ridicule and less exposure.  Seeing a true transwoman on the big screen, in a movie geared to mainstream, was incredible to me. I think the community as a whole should be thanking Warner Bros. for the exposure.  Thank them for showing people transmen and women are real and do exist.  Instead of using the time to further the hate and risk future exposure, the trans community needs to realize that although the character may not have been portrayed as having the classiest of careers, they were portrayed and visible.  Perhaps a petition to portray the trans community in more movies would be a better use of time and effort.  I consider myself an advocate for the trans community and certainly the gender queer community and I have to say kudos to you Warner Bros.

Echo resides in northern New Jersey with her wife and the two youngest of their five children. You can visit her blog at

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One comment

  • joey brite says:

    As someone who hated hated HATED the first idiotic piece of celluloid that was the precursor to this one, I commend you for sitting through this second waste of time. After watching another film in a multi-theatre building, I happened to slip into where it just began screening to see if it was as horrific as the first one and walked out after 10 minutes – because it WAS!

    The fact that it included a scene as you describe is not surprising to me at all because it would be more believable happening in Bangkok for those characters – more ‘exotic’, not ‘mainstream’ – as it would have been if it happened in West Hollywood or the Castro. And the fact that you began seeing facebook protests launched to boycott all things Warner Bros. I would bet came from a typical over-reactionary mass of loudmouths-who-love-censorship connected to the bay area, Ca., aka, GROUND ZERO for the trend of TRANS where one is not supposed to question ANYTHING or make ANY comedic references to ANYTHING related to transgender issues. (Just look at what 130 signatures of protest did in 2007 to squelch a comedic short that was a sci-fi fantasy view of a potential future where evangelicals join in with science & technology to surgically alter any female who presents a little on the masculine side. Hello! It IS what’s happening to butches in California up-and-down the coast!)

    As long as BIG PHARMA along with the medical, psychiatric and a hella lotta other institutions are making big bucks off of this trend, the protests will reign the day so that even screenwriters will have to beware the wrath of those small minds who lost any ability to think critically.

    As far as the awful HANGOVER franchise with a sequel that will likely (unfortunately) follow this last one, I hope the screenwriters include the stupid foursome ending up in San Francisco at a gay male sex club, being forced to have S&M sex with a gay male top who turns out to have a vagina. Now THAT would be comedic fun. But I’m sure the protests will be even larger than facebook if that happened.