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Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning turn as psychiatrist turned murderous cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter was nothing short of terrifying in the 1991 film adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs, the only horror movie to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture. But it was best-selling author Thomas Harris who originally brought the maniacal serial killer to life in his 1988 Anthony Award-winning novel of the same name. The story of FBI trainee Clarice Starling hunting down killer-at-large Buffalo Bill by learning to think like a psychopath from an incarcerated Lecter holds up as one of the most gripping psychological thrillers ever put to page. A fundamental serial-killer novel, The Silence of the Lambs was one of the first narratives of its kind to delve deeply into the psyche of the murderers at its center. But the book’s cultural influence has left a problematic legacy in its wake. Despite Harris’ insistence that Buffalo Bill as he originally wrote the character is not transgender, the movie’s portrayal of genderqueer identity as synonymous with evil is considered by many LGBTQ advocates to have had a harmful impact on the trans community. —Megan McCluskey

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