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Transphobic subtitles

May 6, 2009

Today I found a copy of Itty Bitty Titty Committee with Spanish subtitles. It’s the only movie I saw that has a transmale character –Aggie– so I had thought about showing it at school to help trans visibility (I still haven’t found the courage to watch Boys Don’t Cry).

I looked for my favorite scenes and I noticed that the subtitles had typos: they said “ella” (she) when referring to Aggie. But they weren’t typos at all: every single time someone called Aggie “he”, the subtitles said “she.” Even when Aggie spoke, he used female words to refer to himself.

I am very angry at the people who translated this movie. It’s amazing how the ideology of whoever writes the subtitles can change a whole  film: it can alter a character’s entire gender on a whim. They ruined the only happy transmale character I could show my schoolmates.

We seriously need more positive movies about us; or maybe any kind of movie about us. I know there are a few films out there, but they have severely limited distribution. And they’re still only a few.

Returning to the topic, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a gaping difference –involving LGBT people– between the subtitles and the actual dialogue; once, on TV, “I know you’re straight” became “Sé que sos un hombre de verdad” (I know you’re a real man). I was flabbergasted.

In both cases, apparently, translators have the power to decide who is a real man.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2009 6:23 am

    Gah, that is total bulshit!

    Incidentally, I haven’t seen Itty Bitty Titty Committee, though I have it. And Boys Don’t Cry is a great film, but yeah it is very harsh and sad.

  2. Andy permalink
    May 7, 2009 7:11 am

    Translators are only people. Granted, they’re people who should be careful about what they think is right and wrong because of the way their job is set up, but they’re people all the same. People do things they shouldn’t because of how they feel, think, and see things. It’s not excusable, but it’s a fact of life. As for Boys Don’t Cry…. That can be a very rough movie to see…..

  3. Sui permalink
    May 7, 2009 3:33 pm

    I’ve never seen Itty Bitty Titty Committee either, but I have seen Boys Don’t Cry, it was really difficult for me to get through and such a powerful movie that it messed with my head for days afterwards. The after affect was good though, I ended up coming out after seeing it.

  4. sr. Rago permalink
    May 7, 2009 9:19 pm

    Resulta insólito, y bastante inexplicable: yo tengo entendido (empíricamente) que las traducciones menos literales se hacen al importar y adaptar modismos de un lenguaje al otro. Este…, pero bueno, esos señalamientos obedecen a otra categoría.

    Pareciera que, al momento de hacerlo, la persona que traduce se propone para ello eliminar toda fuente de confusión y hacer los diálogos, precisamente, lo más claros posible al público dialectal al que busca ampliar la difusión. Desde un punto de vista lingüístico es muy entendible porque es su tarea primaria. Sin embargo, como ser humano se ve involucrada ideológicamente con el contenido (el de la película, el que no pasó a ser todavía una apropiación subjetiva) y pasa a crear, a partir de sí, su propia aprehensión de la película (en este punto interviene la transfobia), con sus propias nociones de verdad factual (las cuales aparecen ocasionalmente [¿o siempre?] pero sobre todo en el caso de la aparición de un “elemento en suspenso”, descripción elidida, que unx espectador intenta determinar con datos de la película ordenados por su imaginación). En esta persona traductora también aparece dicha “verdad”, y si se da el fenómeno hadadístico* lo que ocurrirá es que, en su condición de desembrolladora, de desatanudos, de clarificadora, intente dar cuenta de esa “verdad” en su traducción.

    La presuposición fundamental que permite esto es aquélla segun la cual el género que unx tiene “en realidad, en realidad” es aquél con el que “se nació”; clara confusión (más bien ignorancia de la distinción) de género y sexo, donde éste, binario, determina a aquél para siempre, y es una especie de zona supralunar que no permite modificaciones. Vendría a ser como decir que los padres de alguien “en realidad, en realidad” no son sino quienes lo engendraron, los biológicos.

    *fenómeno hadadístico: gracias al cual, se presupone que todas las ideas y sensaciones de unx ante algo son las mismas que las de los demás.

  5. sr. Rago permalink
    May 7, 2009 9:22 pm

    Había flasheado que el título decía “Transphobic subtleties”, sutilezas transfóbicas. (¡Lo cual resultaba réquete prometedor/vendedor, generando la espera de una revelación en lo inconsciente!).

  6. May 8, 2009 9:20 am

    *sigh*

  7. Arkady permalink
    May 10, 2009 7:47 pm

    Almost a tangent: with my limited knowledge of rude french, I’ve noticed for years that the translation will almost always tone down any swearing. A former-Yugoslav friend noticed the same effect in the film ‘No-mans Land’. Maybe it was the same kind of misplaced prudishness going on with whoever did the translation for this film.

  8. May 12, 2009 3:06 am

    That should be illegal somehow. Its like false advertising. You can’t mistranslate so blatently! The whole point of the movie is based around the pronoun HE.

    Gah! What is WRONG with people!

  9. May 12, 2009 5:59 pm

    Oh gadz, that’s obnoxious and entirely trans-ignorant. Boo to that. Time to find out who translated it and write a very firm, but oh-so-polite, letter. Some times it’s just a matter of education. :]

  10. May 17, 2009 2:55 pm

    Come visit us!

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