Laverne Cox's Netflix documentary 'Disclosure' explores transgender representation

"Disclosure" examines 100 years of how trans people have been depicted on screen.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alyssa Newcomb

Laverne Cox teamed up with Netflix on "Disclosure," a powerful new documentary that examines how transgender people have been depicted on screen over the past century.

The "Orange Is the New Black" star serves as executive producer and also speaks about her experiences in the documentary, which was released to coincide with Pride month.

"I think the way trans people have been represented on screen have suggested that we are not real, have suggested that we are mentally ill, that we don't exist," Cox said in the documentary's trailer. "And yet, here I am. Yet here we are, and we've always been here."

Cox, 48, is joined by other leading trans actors, activists and creatives in the film who open up about Hollywood's impact on their community.

"Disclosure" looks back more than a century to trace the history of how transgender people are depicted in film and television. In "A Florida Enchantment," a silent film released in 1914, "a young woman discovers a seed that can make women act like men and men act like women. She decides to take one, then slips one to her maid and another to her fiancé. The fun begins," according to a synopsis of the film.

The documentary works its way through the years, analyzing how trans people have been portrayed, from dehumanizing performances to complex, funny and heartfelt depictions. It examines movies like "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975) and "Boys Don't Cry" (2000) to shows like "The L-Word," "Pose" and others.

Director Sam Feder told Decider that every non-trans crew member hired to work on the documentary was also required to train a trans person trying to make it in the film business.

"We prioritized hiring trans people. We did a national search. When we could not hire a trans person for a key role on set, the non-trans person would mentor a trans fellow," Feder said. "We had about a dozen different fellows on set. It was an incredible experience, turning around whenever there was a break, and seeing the relationships that were formed — the bonds and the networking and the connection."

"Disclosure" is available now on Netflix.