Created By: MidorinoSaru on June 11, 2012 Last Edited By: MidorinoSaru on October 3, 2014
Nuked

Tranny in Custody

In police stations, interview rooms or police cells, there is a brief scene or glimpse of an obviously transgender person in custody.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A policeman's (or lawyer's) lot is rarely a happy one, and as a shorthand to show what a wild and wacky time they sometimes have, and what low-lifes they have to deal with on a routine basis, police stations seem to be populated with many supposedly marginal characters. Along with the hookers, pimps, and druggies, there is often one or more transgender people, always male-to-female, and who are usually being showy or highly vocal. Though it is a long time since cross-dressing was against the law, it is still a short hand for law-breaking in the world of the television cop show.

Examples:
  • In French detective series Engrenages series 2, Episode 1, a flustered looking lawyer is interviewing a transgender person who is obviously meant to be a vexatious and unworthy client. The camera pans across the cleavage area before going to the face. The transgender person is overly made up, wears a blonde wig and dresses in an overtly "tarty" way, and is describing a defence for a case of exposure. The lawyer sees a potentially more lucrative client pass outside, and hurriedly leaves the transgender, who looks frustrated and confused.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • June 11, 2012
    AgProv
    trying to add reply. Is there a problem with this?

    EDIT - evidently not. is there a filter that prevents certain words being used or certain concepts being introduced? Trying to add "real life" general example of how the law in many western democracies was changed to allow M-F t-sexuals who commit crimes to go to a womens' prison. This was not the case beforehand and could lead to very real distress.

    EDIT 2 - note the above was evidently permissible but the text of my original comment is still being hung up in limbo and seemingly not allowed publication - cannot see whny as it is a thought-out, sympathetic, informative comment in this context and the last thought on my mind is trolling or being offensive!

    Edit 3 - blowed if I know what the problem is but the damn thing is still not accepting my original posting however I try to revise it.

  • June 11, 2012
    MidorinoSaru
    Thanks Ag Prov... sorry about your editing woes - yes it's an interesting point you are making.
  • June 11, 2012
    peccantis
    Obviously transgender... or obviously transvestite? Hm?
  • June 11, 2012
    AgProv
    still being pernickity...

    Thank you for sympathy... I was referring to the law and its practical interpretation being many, many, years behind great leaps ahead in medical technology. Law relating to gender identity in most Western domains, especially Britain and the USA, went back a long long way and effectively equated gender with the witnessed possession at birth of the matching set of genitals and secondary sexual characteristics. The law in 2000AD defining primary gender being exactly what it had been in 1000AD, basically. If you were recorded at birth by the professional medical witness as male or female, that was it for life, and that was how you stayed. (This caused great distress in the USA for a hermaphrodite wrongly classed as female - as the doctor presiding felt he had to make a definite choice one way or the other. corrective plastic surgery removed visible external evidence of masculinity, leaving her apparently female. It became abundantly clear as "she" grew up that the person self-defined as male....)

  • June 11, 2012
    AgProv
    Late twentieth century advances in cosmetic surgery allowing for viable gender re-assignment were not covered by law. If somebody was born male and committed a crime, the thinking went, then they bloody well went to a male prison despite "vanity surgery" having been done to them. It doesn't take too much imagination to see the potential horror of this situation...

    I will agree, though, this only applies to transsexuals and the transgendered. Mere transvestites....
  • June 11, 2012
    MidorinoSaru
    @peccantis - I can see us getting stuck in a labels quagmire, but the term transgender was chosen to cover all possibilities, but I guess we could say and/or transvestite.
  • June 11, 2012
    animeg3282
    We might not want to say 'tranny' here.
  • June 11, 2012
    MidorinoSaru
    Yes, I hear this word is considered more negative in the US than it is over here in the UK. I am wondering how to get a snappy sounding title though.

    I am also thinking that there is a wider phenomenon than this, with the stock shot of the wild and wonderful characters seen in police stations. I'm thinking Hill Street Blues and Cagney and Lacey here. Needs more research on the wider context...

    Plus - there is a general "criminal transgender or transvestite" scenario - I'm thinking one episode in CSI and a recurring comic scene in "Run Fat Boy, Run."
  • June 11, 2012
    MorganWick
    Ag Prov, if you're still having trouble, take your original text and post it in the Tech Wishlist/Bug Reports forum and see if they can identify anything that might be causing a hiccup.
  • June 11, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Maybe something like All Dolled Up For The Police Station? Okay, I know that sucks but a catchier equivalent. Most importantly, it avoids the term "tranny" but covers transexuals and drag queens AND then we could include women who are dolled up in a way that is obviously supposed to make us think they're prostitutes. I feel like that's just as common a type.

    Also, the transexuals used in these scenes aren't just dressed normally, they're always SUPER done up with make up/big hair etc.
  • June 11, 2012
    Earnest
  • June 11, 2012
    BearyScary
    Token Police Station Transperson? Background Police Station Transpeople? Just throwing those out there as possible names.
  • June 11, 2012
    Earnest
    ^That sounds good, maybe even just shorten it to Token Trans Person and leave it as a more general trope?
  • June 11, 2012
    Duncan
    I think this was originally "random prostitute in the police station", and when that became a Dead Horse Trope, they became transvestite prostitutes for extra shock value (which would explain the overdone makeup/clothes).
  • June 12, 2012
    TheNinth
    Duncan's right. It's really just "prostitute in a police station" with the occasional transvestite prostitute thrown in for shock or "comedy". They're not being arrested for being cross-dressers. They're not intended to be interpreted as transgendered people, either -- unless it's plot-relevant, and then they're not "stock background".

    It might be better to expand this some sort of "stock background players in a police station" trope.
  • June 13, 2012
    bananasloth
    ^ I agree with this. But if you don't want to expand to that, Token Police Station Transperson sounds all right ("tranny" definitely has to go). And while I know this is always Played For Laughs, I think it would also be advisable to note in the definition that this is actually a sad Truth In Television as many trans people get targeted based on their identities (especially when they have an intersecting identity e.g. POC), and get disproportionate charges because of them.
  • June 13, 2012
    surgoshan
    I disagree. I think Token Prostitute Prisoner would be the way to go. The trope is about showing how the arrested person is in a foreign situation, and that's only about men in drag sometimes.
  • June 14, 2012
    TheNinth
    "Transperson" is also not good, because that term is almost exclusively used to mean someone who is transitioning from one sex to the other, not a cross-dresser. "Token Crossdressing Criminal" maybe?
  • June 15, 2012
    Etherjammer
    I think a lot of the confusion stems from the fact that TV writers who fall back on this trope often don't seem to understand that "transvestite" and "transgender" aren't the same thing.

    Like Duncan said, this feels like a combination of two tropes - Token Prostitute Prisoner and Crossdressing Prostitute (since There Are No Pre Op Transpeople in fiction) - which should probably be launched as separate tropes, with a note on Token Prostitute Prisoner's page that many writers are now using Crossdressing Prostitutes since the straight Token Prostitute Prisoner is becoming a bit of a dead horse.
  • October 2, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    The title needs changing - it's an offensive slur - but I can recall this trope
  • October 2, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Barney Miller a transvestite is arrested for wearing a dress. He gets a bail ticket but can't leave dressed as he is or else he'll get arrested again, so he has to call a coworker to bring him some male clothes. The coworker doesn't know he's a transvestite, so he tells his friend he got robbed and those were the only clothes he could find. (Which doesn't explain the money in his purse.) He's not showy, vocal, or overly stereotypical - he's just a man who likes to wear dresses.
  • October 2, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    Needs a better name, and Midorino Saru it is just as much of a slur in the UK than it is elsewhere. I vote this be discarded and re-created using a clean name. MTD.
  • October 2, 2014
    rexpensive
    Most of the time I have seen this it is not clear whether the individual is trans or cross-dressing and it is ALWAYS a visibly male-bodied person in female clothing/ make-up.

    I have no idea how to encompass that idea in a title that does not conflate the two things in an offensive manner.
  • October 2, 2014
    Larkmarn
    I think Token Background Prostitute is still the only way to really take this.
  • October 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ because this trope IS offensive.

    Okay, it's not meant to be offensive, but some time ago being a trans is indeed something wrong and the obvious way to show it is a male wearing female clothes.
  • October 2, 2014
    bejjinks
    It isn't always offensive but like Token Minority, it is usually offensive primarily because they so rarely show trans except as a criminal. If they showed more law abiding trans, it wouldn't be so offensive.
  • October 2, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    • In an episode of The George Lopez Show, George is in jail for punching his father. In one scene, a guard comes by to let one Lopez out, and as George is about to stand up, the guard says he's addressing Ms. Lopez, and a tranny in the same cell walks out.
  • October 3, 2014
    ElectricNova
    The hell?

    Are you serious with that name?

    That's like naming a trope about black people The N word.

    Change it.
  • October 3, 2014
    Bisected8
    This YKTTW is over 2 years old and the sponsor/creator hasn't got any active forum posts or recent edits.

    Unless someone wants to discard it and start again or take over as sponsor, just replying to it (or directing statements at Midorino Saru) isn't going to achieve anything.

    Personally, I think it would make more sense to have something along the same lines as ISO Standard Urban Groceries for the occupants of a police station (e.g. Ambulance Chaser lawyer, token upper middle class kid demanding their lawyer, gang members, etc), instead of a trope which focuses on just one of them.
  • October 3, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    So any objections to me just hitting the discard on this thing given the grossness of it?
  • October 3, 2014
    SolipSchism
    None here. I do think the trope is valid, but as many have already noted, desperately needs to be reworded in both title and description.
  • October 3, 2014
    Bisected8
    None here; there's probably a trope somewhere, but this doesn't have anything worth keeping.
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