So the Sydney Opera House is putting on a pantomime for several weeks in December, and I’m not happy about it. It’s called “trAnnie.” I could probably just leave it at that, really.
But for the morbidly curious, here is the Opera House website description:
It really is a hard-knock life for ten year old little orphan Fannie (Trevor Ashley). His parents left him in a basket on the doorstep of the Sutherland Shire Children’s Orphanage with nothing but a bracelet and a bottle of Stoli. Now he is desperate to get his long-overdue gender reassignment surgery, but there’s so much standing in his way: including that boozy matron Miss Trannigan (Rhonda Burchmore) who has just been listed on the sex-offender registry, and is bitter from years of Logie losses. Thank God Fannie has a bunch of foul mouthed orphans and his/her trusty ex-sniffer dog to help him/her survive.
When word gets out that multi-millionaire / amateur photographer Daddy Warlow is on the lookout to take in a young ward, Fannie sees her way out! But first she’ll have to pass a rigorous set of blind auditions, a “very arty” photo shoot and an appearance on evil talk-back radio personality Ellen Jones’ show. Even then, there’s still no guarantee for her sex change… she may need a Christmas miracle!
Featuring songs, audience participation, and out-of-work television personalities, this brand new adults-only panto will have you in fits of laughter… and wishing that you too could be adopted by a sexy bald millionaire.
I know, right? How clever. Such devastating wit. Such close attention to the lived realities of trans lives, to be able to make humour from marginalisation and social rejection. Utter, utter genius. etc.
Chai edi Padilla has an excellent note on Facebook that’s worth reading about this, but I’m going to keep it simpler. A text like this is essentially ventriloquism, a display of male entitlement over and aggression towards trans women. Scripted by a man, a female character to be played by a man (reinforcing societal perceptions of trans women as “really” men), for an audience, for laughs. Setting up trans women as punch lines, using a slur for a title, a slur that itself frequently accompanies violence, and giving that slur ever extended currency in the public sphere.
And the Sydney Opera House legitimises this. This is vicious, blatant sexist transphobia, masquerading as light-hearted entertainment.
You can contact the Sydney Opera House here, if you wish to complain.