2017 Film Descriptions

October 21 — Trans in the 21st Century


Taryn: When Taryn McLean was a little girl he would dress up in his father’s military uniform and play soldier with his cousins. He has always had a deep-seeded desire to serve his country – one which lead him to join the Navy. However, when McLean decided to start his gender transition he put in a voluntary separation package to leave the Navy and made his intention clear: “It was either staying in and being unhappy or transitioning and running the risk of getting kicked out,” said McLean. The separation was denied. Thus began his struggle of becoming a man in a profession where it was illegal to do so. On June 30, 2016, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced – effective immediately – transgender service members can openly serve. As a result, McLean was finally able to complete his gender transition with confidence and get on with his life. (Filmmaker: Benjamin Wilson, TRT: 3 min, 2017). 


Transgender, at war and in love: In the documentary, Logan and Laila discuss the challenges they each face while serving from both the male and female perspective. For Logan, he has been able to gain a level of acceptance as he is allowed to present and identify as male. For Laila it is an entirely different story. Though she identifies as and looks female, she is forced to identify herself to others as male and dress according to male guidelines. Failure to do so would result in being discharged. The story explores how the experience is entirely different for “female to males” compared to “male to females”. Though these differences exist, both are faced with losing everything as they just to simply exist as who they are both individually and as a couple. (Filmmaker: Fiona Dawson, TRT: 13 min, 2015). 


Called to Serve: After his family and church rejected him, Z becomes the marine he always wanted to be. His life is upended when he’s kicked out under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and he becomes an unlikely activist. Join Z as he searches for love and belonging amidst rising political tensions. Episode addresses civil rights, faith, and LGBTQ history. (American in Transition, Episode 3, TRT: 20, 2017).


Becoming Johanna: How does it feel when your mom prays everyday for you to be someone else? That’s the struggle Johanna, a 16 year old transgender Latina faces. At first her mom thinks she’s confused, or joking, but as Johanna’s transformation continues, her mom simply can’t handle the fact that her son is Becoming Johanna. (Filmmaker: Johnathan Skurnick, TRT: 27 min, 2016). 


A Place in the Middle: This is the true story of a young Hawaiian girl who dreams of leading her school's all-male hula troupe, and of an inspiring teacher who uses traditional culture to empower her. (Subtitled). (Filmmakers: Roberto Ruiz Cespedes, Sancho Ortiz de Lejarazu Martin, TRT: 16 min, 2016).


Siempre Fui Alex: Alex is 12 years old and lives in a small neighbourhood in Madrid. While he plays, dances, dreams and laughs with his parents, much of our society does not accept him as he is. (Subtitled).


A Womb Of Their Own: Six articulate, charismatic and diverse masculine-identified people discuss their pregnancies and chest-feeding experiences, demonstrating the non-binary nature of gender. (Filmmaker: Cyn Lubow, TRT: 85 min, 2016).


October 24th — Not To Be Missed Gems


Mx. Enigma — This short explores the intersectionality of Jay’s life in an Orthodox community and their gender identity, and how one suppresses the other. (Filmmaker: Mx. Enigma (Je' Jae Daniels), TRT: 8 min, 2017).


Abreast — The first short biopic to show the struggle of a transgender man coming out in Romania (Filmmaker: Patrick Braila, TRT: 11 min, 2016).


Spot — A group of twenty-somethings circle around a stoop and share a joint whenone of them gets lost in the mystery and beauty of the urban sidewalk – a mosaic of stories emerge. With an all transgender cast, Spot pushes the known boundaries of diversity and inclusion in indie filmmaking. (Filmmaker: Jamie DiNicola, TRT: 9 min, 2017).


Dusk — This 15 min film is a dramatic tale which follows the story of a trans man from childhood into late adulthood (Filmmaker: Jake Graf, TRT: 15 min, 2017).


That's My Sister: Transgender Life in jail and on the Streets — More than one-third of transgender inmates in US jails and prisons report sexual assault. When the San Francisco sheriff announced a plan to implement changes for transgender people in the county jail, film-maker Nick Leader went out to meet the inmates who would benefit. What he found was a strong community of people, struggling with their place in society both on the street and in the justice system, with only each other to lean on. (Filmmaker: Nick Leader, TRT: 9 min, 2016).


I Am Isak — I am Isak is the first installment of I am the T. Filmed in 2014, I am Isak is a captivating documentary short about Isak, a young trans man living in Norway. Isak’s story reveals the transformative power of becoming your truest self through the lens of gender identity. From past to present, the film explores the physical, emotional, and social implications of transitioning. It combines cultural context with firsthand storytelling to explore what it means to be trans: do you have to forget your past to become the gender you were meant to be? (Filmmaker: Tony Zosherafatain, TRT: 22 min, 2014).


Ballroom Boys — Tensions arise as Lemington and Nejc train for the European Ballroom Championships in Blackpool. Will their relationship survive? (Filmmaker: Micheal Stylianou, TRT: 13 min, 2017).


Headspace — This film follows a group of different trans characters and allows us to hear their internal monologue — like in the British cult TV comedy Peep Show — as they go about their day. (Filmmaker: Jake Graf, 5 min, 2017).


Miss Diamond — The film follows the story of Miss Diamond, a talented artist and a fierce activist who knew from a young age what other people saw, was not who she was. Her journey was long and her journey was hard, but according to Ms. Diamond, “I didn’t want to die pretending, I didn’t want to die living for everybody else. I wanted to die being happy.” In a world that constantly asserts that transgender people are garbage, those transphobic messages are deeply ingrained and have devastating impacts. Rejected from their families, housing, jobs; many transgender people have to figure out other means of survival. This community is intensely profiled by the police and when incarcerated rates of sexual assault and abuse at the hands of both inmates and guards are 10 times higher for the transgender community as compared to the general population. Most transgender people are forced to serve time in facilities that don’t align with their gender identity. Ms. Diamond’s story unfortunately is only one of many. (Human Picture Film, TRT: 5 min, 2016).




October 26 — Not Your Token: Trans People of Color Voices in Film & Media


Over Stigmatized — Created by and for trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary and allies from GAP’s SupaFriends LGBTQ media program, this thriller tells the story of how Brave, a racial justice activist and filmmaker, responds to the loss of his ex-girlfriend Kelly, a trans justice organizer, and grapples with his own guilt about hiding their relationship. This film tackles the epidemic of transphobic violence and the silence around the murders of trans women. (Filmmaker: Giselle Bleuz, TRT: 22 min, 2016).


35 — Released on Trans Day of Remembrance 2016 "35" is a video original poem written and performed by Sasha Alexander and filmed and edited by Olympia Perez and Sasha Alexander. "35" is about the experience of being black and trans, in love and feeling the pressure of violence – it is specifically about the average life expectancy of black trans women reported in stats from violence over the past few years to be 35. The reality is the age is much younger for many of the sisters who have been killed and as young black trans people art is a tool we use for resistance and to reframe the value and worth of black trans peoples. (Filmmaker: Sasha Alexander, TRT: 3 min, 2017).


Inside My Notebook — This film  captures the story of Trans woman in today's society. Accompanied with music by Aurora Lloyd from her mixtape (#InsideMyNotebook) and poetry by Venus Selenite from her book (Trigger) we are taken into a world that is about the trans community. (Filmmaker: Aurora Antoniá Lloyd, TRT: 15 min, 2017). 


Rest In Power Juan Evans — Dedicated to Juan Evans family in love and remembrance of Juan and his work for justice, this recorded interview breaks down mass incarceration and TGNCI criminalization, his own experiences, and vision for all black trans people rest in power. (Filmmaker: Black Trans Media, TRT: 18 min, 2016).


Passing — This short film profiles the lives of three men of colour who have undergone gender transition from female to male. The film explores what life is like living as a black man when no one knows you are transgender and how each of them now, perceives their own journey with gender after many years of being interacted with by the world as a biological man. (Filmmaker: Lucah Rosenberg-Lee, TRT: 23 min, 2015).


Garden of Eden — Following an altercation with her father about her sexuality, 17-year old Jaliyah is forced into homelessness just neighborhoods away. Coming to terms with her sexuality, Jaliyah's identity evolves as does her disdain for religion, society, and cultural norms. (Filmmakers: Imani Dennison, Robin Williams, TRT: 32 min, 2017).


November 2 — Back to the Future: A trans retrospective in film, then and now. 


Outlaw: Leslie Feinberg, a self-identified "gender outlaw" who has spent much of zir life passing as a man, speaks with passion and intelligence about zir experiences in this video manifesto. Raw and confrontational, this film asks its audience to examine their assumptions about the "nature" of gender and calls for more sensitivity and awareness of the human rights and the dignity of transgendered people. Feinberg is the author of STONE BUTCH BLUES (Firebrand), an account of a working-class lesbian who passes as a man. (Filmmaker: Alisa Lebow, TRT: 26 min, 1994).


Queens at Heart: Produced in 1967, this amazing short introduces us to Misty, Vicky, Sonja and Simone—four pre-op trans women who are subjected to a six-month psychological project about their personal lives. Queens at Heart offers a rare and poignant glimpse into pre-Stonewall queer life as it takes us to a New York City drag ball and follows the girls through their daily lives. (Filmmaker: Jenni Olson, TRT: 22 min, 1967)


America In Transition Episodes:

— Learning to Recognize Myself Again: Arkansas: The threat of violence is an everyday experience for trans people. When Tiommi Luckett’s worst fears come true, she struggles to reconnect with the bold, adventurous woman she’s always been against a backdrop of self-imposed isolation. Episode addresses HIV criminalization, sexual violence, and healing from trauma (Ep1)


— A Family Matter: Milwaukee, WI: Dezjorn is a pretty boy. After modeling from infancy, his mother struggles to understand why her child wanted to become a man. Even as he became a transgender public figure, he hid his gender identity from his mom. Now they are trying to understand one another before it’s too late. Episode addresses family acceptance and social transitioning. (Ep2)


— Called to Serve: North Carolina: After his family and church rejected him, Z becomes the marine he always wanted to be. His life is upended when he’s kicked out under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and he becomes an unlikely activist. Join Z as he searches for love and belonging amidst rising political tensions. Episode addresses civil rights, faith, and LGBTQ history.