During dinner tonight, my partner turned on the TV as she is wont to do, and chose to watch an episode of Criminal Minds titled: Damaged. My TV attention span is usually pretty poor, but tonight I more or less paid attention. Of course the BAU team was chasing a serial killer, and you guessed it-the serial killer was a crossdresser. I have always hated this nonsense. I can recall being pretty upset when The Silence of the Lambs came out. I was pretty young then and having a very difficult time coming to terms with my gender identity and that film upset me a great deal. There I was, trying to gain some understanding about myself, and this huge blockbuster comes out depicting this caricatured monstrosity of a transgendered person. I imagine that I am not the only one that was affected by this.
Anyway, I decided to write a post about this phenomenon in the media, so I started Googling, and lo and behold someone else already wrote about the topic. It is a little long, but it is interesting nonetheless. Written in 2000 it is perhaps a bit dated, as in recent years we are beginning to see some actual good quality transgender characters on TV and in films, but it serves to discuss the oft repeated trope that serial killers are transgenders of some sort and vice versa. In my most humble opinion, these depictions are a big part of the reason that we have lovely people like Michelle Duggar insisting that if transgender persons are allowed to use the bathroom that best matches their gender identity that it would "endanger" everyone's daughters. (Odd that they never worry about their son's being "endangered" by transboys/men-but whatever.)
TL;DR: So where does this nonsense come from? The transserialkiller phenomenon more or less began with Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Hitchcock was supposedly inspired by a novel based upon the story of a monstrous individual named Ed Gein, who admitted to killing two women (there may have been more) and mutilating their bodies, as well as robbing graves to gain access to female body parts. Gein has long been touted as the stereotypical crossdressing serial killer, but the author found no concrete evidence that this was true. The origin seems to have come from an interview conducted by a polygraph technician:
Q. "Do you have any recollection, Eddie, of taking any of those female parts, the vagina specifically, and holding it over your penis to cover the penis?"
A. "I believe that's true."
Q. "You recall doing that with the vaginas of the bodies of other women?"
A. "That I believe I do remember; that's right."
Q. "Would you ever put on a pair of women's panties over your body and then put some of these vaginas over your penis?"
A. "That could be."
Um. Yeah. So anyway, Gein was examined by several social workers and psychologists who "suggested that Gein was most probably psychotic" and that "none of the reports profiled him as a transvestite."
At any rate, the novel was written, the film released, and the rest is shitty history. In parting, I will present you all with this quote from the article:
"In all of my extensive reading on mass murderers, serial killers and sexual psychopaths, I have yet to come across a report of an actual transvestite or transsexual psychopath. Yet the cultural association persists— to the detriment of differently-gendered people everywhere."