Mountains Out of Mole Hills

Split’s Portrayal of Trans Women?

Monique Shifflette, Cactus Writer

The movie Split has seemed to cause a bit of an uproar in the LGBTQ community. The film is about a man with dissociative identity disorder (DID), and due to the mental illness, the character has 24 different identities, or personalities. The plot of the movie is that the man switches between his identities, and three of them team up to kidnap three teenage girls in order to release the presence of the 25th identity. One of those personalities is named Patricia. Patricia wears a dress and heels.

As for the transphobia, I see no reason why this film would be transphobic. The character was not trans, he had a mental illness, where one of his identities was a woman. I feel that equating his mental illness with transsexuality is potentially more offensive than the actual portrayal in the film.

That being said, a petition has begun to boycott the movie. A quote from Sarah Rose in a Movieweb article states “We’re at a point in society where male-bodied people wearing dresses shouldn’t be portrayed as offensive, strange, or scary, but films like this do nothing to counteract that narrative. Additionally, this film paints mental illness as a horror movie plot, and not a real issue that should be addressed seriously and with profound compassion.”. She is right though. Men wearing dresses shouldn’t be portrayed as anything but normal, and mental illness should be approached with compassion and understanding, and that’s essentially what the movie did.

I found the movie to be relatively respectful towards those with mental illness. The psychiatrist in the film advocated for her clients, and referred to them as her family. She was very adamant about DID being a real illness and should be treated with respect. And, yes, the movie did use mental illness as a horror movie plot, but it is a horror movie. Anyone who watches the movie will undoubtedly realize that it is about an extreme case of DID, and that people with that disorder are most likely not criminals.

Split was not a horror movie about a man wearing a dress, it was about the character’s identities scheme to kidnap young girls and feed them to the 25th identity. That, not the cross dressing, was the plot.