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Transgender Serial Killers

This montage shows scenes from several films that feature transgender serial killers. Since the 1960s, many movies in the horror/thriller genre have included transgender murderers. In all cases, these transgender serial killers are transfeminine, meaning they were assigned male at birth and either identify as or express themselves as women. Some films that include the transfeminine serial killer are Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980), and Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs (1991).

 

discussion

What are some similarities between the clips and their depictions of transgender serial killers? What’s the value of seeing these scenes in relation to each other?

Why is the transfeminine serial killer scary and a convention in horror films? Does their gender identity or gender expression subversion of the gender binary contribute to the horror  they provoke?

Is it significant that these transgender serial killers are all assigned male at birth and either identify or express themselves as women? What might this suggest about masculinity? About femininity?

What messages do these representations of transgender identity convey?

Do you think these representations of transgender serial killers will remain a prevalent trope in contemporary horror films?