#3. Driving the Lane
You know how this one goes. Some idiots are playing basketball when our hero(ine) steps on to the court. "Oh look, a girl thinks she can play with the big boys," the head idiot says, shortly before he gets dunked over by our broad-shouldered fauxy-lady. "Oh shit! What just hit me in the face?" he asks, unable to sleep soundly for the rest of his days.
A huge amount of sports psychology is helping athletes deal with accidentally touching penises.
There's a slightly scuzzy undercurrent of sexism in this cliche, in that it kind of hints that if a woman is surprisingly good at something, she may possibly be a man. Like there aren't plenty of examples of high-performing female athletes already out there competing in basketball or competitive farting or whatever.
#2. Low Standards Guy
So we've got our movie trucking along now, following a guy filling out a dress like it's a sack of onions. And even thought the unattractiveness and colossal wrongness of this man-lady's appearance has been made light of for the past hour of screen time, inevitably a pervert appears on the scene whose pants get smaller in the presence of our hero(ine). "She's just my type," he'll say, tugging at his collar and slicking back his hair, because it's that kind of movie. And as we presume that his "type" isn't actually a woman with "a penis tucked between her legs" this will make the resulting series of escalating romantic mishaps all the more awkward and hilarious. Or so the filmmakers hope.
Who wouldn't love a woman with the carriage of a street fighter and the breasts of a Dali painting?
But what makes this cliche so awful is that no one seems to ask what this poor sap might do if he discovers his beloved is packing meat. If you take a straight man and tell him he's been trying to bang a dude for the past several days, odds are he's not going to cope with that too well. This is not a punch you can just roll with. The best case scenario is a lengthy spell of doubt and self-loathing, and the possible outcomes go rapidly downhill from there. Why filmmakers repeatedly choose to dance on the knife edge between "wacky misunderstanding" and "murder-suicide" is beyond me, but I like to think it's because they hate us.
#1. Hinting At Lesbianism
The flipside of the terrifying prospect of accidental "man on man-lady" romance is the terrifyingly hot prospect of "lady on man-lady" romance. Because it is all but certain that after brushing off the advances of the pervert, our man-lady protagonist will meet a beautiful lady-lady, and as is commonly the case, decide that he wants to give her lots of kisses. But there's a problem: This lady-lady isn't interested in men-ladies! If this is a typical cross-dressing movie, this will be the final straw which coaxes our protagonist to rejoin the rest of us in the world of regular-dressing.
The world of regular-dressing. Goddammit.
But don't expect this to happen simply, not when there are hi-jinx to be had. Instead, this will certainly play out in a climax where our hero, now dressed as a man-man, will use the information he's gathered as a man-lady to win the heart of the lady-lady, probably during a sequence of rapid costume changes at a fancy restaurant. "Cut!" the director says, not looking up from the game of Angry Birds he has going. "Good enough. We're not doing Hamlet here. Print it." A pause, then a, "Fuck you, Academy," as he crushes three pigs he imagines to be voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Fuck your green hides."
For more from Bucholz, check out 5 Silver Linings Now That Identity Theft Ruined Your Life and The 6 Most Overhyped Technologies.