Review for Trans: The Movie

May 17, 2012

Trans: The Movie

The other night I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Trans The Movie at the Common Ground Theater in Durham.  I didn’t know much about the movie beforehand.  I was worried that it would be another disappointing portrayal of folks from the trans community, told in a way that mystifies the topic and objectifies the people.  (Quick – name the first three trans characters you can think of from popular movies or TV shows.  IF you were able to name three, I’ll bet my hat that each character can either be labeled as one of the following:  pathetic or deceptive.  Just let me know if I owe you my sombrero.)

Much to my relief, this is perhaps the first (can that be right?) movie I’ve seen which lets people tell their own stories in a non-sensationalized manner.  These are real people, and real families, telling their stories directly to the audience.  This movie did it’s best to capture the diversity that exists in the trans experience.  And, as is true in real life, some folks have an easier time than others.

Do you have a doctor’s note for that gender?

My one hesitation about this movie is the over-emphasis of the medical options that exist for people who are transitioning.  It’s wonderful that there are so many options these days but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the trans experience pre-dates modern medicine by like a bajillion years. I worry that a lot of cis folks think medical procedures are what make a person transsexual, rather than viewing medical procedures as affirming what is already there.  (Perhaps this is why so many cis folks think it’s totally reasonable to ask a complete stranger some very intimate questions, as if they need to know if you actually have permission from medical doctors to be declaring your own gender.)

The reality is that there are many people who fully identify as being trans and don’t do any medical procedures, whether by choice or lack of access because of geography or finances.  My worry is that by focusing on medical options we lose sight of the fact that a person can forgo all medical options for transitioning and still fully embrace their trans identity and lead a happy full life.

Fight boredom.  Learn your gender.

That said, a producer of the movie took questions after the screening and he was very clear that he knew this movie only told part of the story.  And really, no one movie could ever tell the full story of the trans experience.  The complexity of gender equals the complexity of each person’s unique story and life experience.  Thank goodness.  I’d get bored too easily if it were any other way.

Watching this movie is a great way to peak behind the curtain of our culture and see some of the brave souls who dare to do the hard work of learning how to be themselves.

Side note:  When it rains it pours.  Click here to learn more about the upcoming screening of Southern Comfort on May 24 in Carrboro NC.


One Response to “Review for Trans: The Movie”

  1. Carol Uren said

    After watching the preview of the movie (freely available on the internet) I decided to purchase the DVD as I thought the stories of the people who took part were incredibly moving, sometimes sad, sometimes extremely uplifting and sometimes violent.
    This should be shown in all schools to help educate young people about what transgender people have to go through in order to become their true selves and would hopefully reduce transphobic crime in future years.

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