Monday, June 21, 2021
HomeNorth AmericaLaverne Cox's #RockyHorror "Sweet Transvestite" - Fan or Fail?

Laverne Cox’s #RockyHorror “Sweet Transvestite” – Fan or Fail?


Laverne Cox debuted as Dr. Frank-n-furter last night on Fox TV’S remake of the #RockyHorror Picture Show. As a transgender woman, I had very strong emotional reactions, mostly a sense of embarrassment. But watching it again this morning and seeing the response on twitter embracing her role I wonder how you feel about this. I wonder if I am out of sync with the trans movement or maybe you have reservations as well?

I was never a fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show when it first came out. In fact, I’ve never watched the first version. I didn’t know at the time why but I just couldn’t relate to it. Last night I started watching Laverne Cox perform Sweet Transvestite I experienced such an intense swelling of emotions I turned it off.

Mari Brighe wrote on Bustle

“Though it is a fun, entertaining tribute that should appeal to fans of the original and Laverne Cox’s performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter is treated perfectly, much of the original’s subversive tone on gender and sexuality is missing.”

Then today I realized that there was a reason I didn’t relate to the original version. It was a gay production played by cis gay men. Some people on twitter are lamenting the fact the Adam Lambert didn’t play the lead. It seemed the remake to lost the counter culture the cutting edge of the original.
That and the word “transvestism” is distinctly distasteful to many of us who have fought for years for people to recognize us as women, and not men who crossdress. Not to mention our well-deserved distrust of Fox and any potential branding of our history or culture.

Well, Cox put her all into playing the part and I’m not taking anything away from that but the dynamics of the part changed. I know, a transgender woman finally landed a lead role and I’m not wholeheartedly embracing it. Maybe over time I’ll come to appreciate it more.

To put this into perspective here’s the original version but I won’t vote until I have a chance to watch this a couple of times more. So…new cult hit or fail?

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Kelli Busey
Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


  1. I love Laverne Cox as a woman and as a transgender person. She is an actress with high visibility. Whether she wanted this role or not, I do not think she wrote the script.

    Personally, I came out and then looked for others who were already public, especially in the media. There were few. I did not know who Bruce Jenner was, and since I despised reality TV, I did not know of her or her show, until the press started focusing on her. I was suspicious of remarks in her famous interview and by all the subsequent gaffs. Yet, there are remarkably many in the trans community that love Caitlin for her high visibility no matter what she does.
    I saw Rocky Horror when it first came out, and loved it but I realized even then, closeted in several ways, that I was watching stereotypes of all kinds. In fact, that was what it was, a huge fugue of images made into a parody. I have not seen Cox’s acting yet, but to pin responsibility for how people see trans people on her is a mistake. Frankly, I don’t think the original movie needed a remake, so I am hesitant to see this movie.
    So, I will reserve a complete analysis until I see it, but is this going to be a focus on activism? A critique of a woman who is otherwise an activist? And a woman of color, so I am really, really hoping that has nothing to do with the “disappointment/outrage.” And I also wonder how many critics support poor multi-millionaire Republican apologist Cait?

  2. Kelli I agree with you wholeheartedly. The only thing I want to add is that the release of this remake comes at a bad time too. Just weeks away of the elections and transgender day ofrememberance. Is Frank n Furter going to be the image in the minds of those going to the polls after a hellish year trans groups from coast to coast fighting tooth and nail for right to relieve ourselves in the right bathroom, or our trans childrens right?
    And what about the onlookers that watch us hold vigils and marches in honor and rememberance of our brothers and sisters who died by the hands of those with minds that are ignorant and views narrowly cant see that all we want is to represent the true spirit of who we are in so far as our gender identity is concerned and that we arent a bunch of Frank N Furters for them to slaughter. I feel this strongly about the timibg of Rocky Horrors release. Yeah, epic fail indeed.

  3. Sorry Laverne, you are such an amazing advocate for the trans community, but this is an epic fail from a trans perspective.
    Please realise that some (many) of trans folk find this difficult to watch for a variety of reasons


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