“The triumph… is that it makes viewers feel the struggle, suffering and some of the victories for the children and their parents even as it provides a world of information on coming-of-age transgender.” — Baltimore Sun
In the opening scene of the documentary film, Growing Up Trans, 9-year-old Lia Hegarty is on a surfboard splashing in the ocean. From the sun, sea and her gleeful little-girl calls as she catches a wave, the sound and images move to her bedroom, where she declares, “I am transgender. I was born male, and I identify female. But I like to say I’m a girl stuck in a boy’s body.”
Lia is one of eight youngsters featured in the Appreciating Diversity Film Series’ December screening of Growing Up Trans. Lia says she “transitioned” when she was “6 or 7” to being “more of a girl.” Now, she says, “I’m almost completely female.” This year, she adds, “I changed my name officially. So now, I’ve changed my name, my clothes, my room and my pronouns. That’s really all you need except for the fifth one that I still need: surgery and medicine to help me look like a girl.”
Though Lia’s statement about her identity is disarmingly straightforward, Growing Up Trans examines the complexities in the situations facing transgender youth. Filmmakers Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor go deep inside the lives of these children, their families and friends, tracing their path toward gender identity. Told from the perspective of parents, doctors, and most revealing of all, the kids themselves, the documentary takes a powerful look at this new generation, exploring the medical possibilities, struggles and choices transgender kids and their families face today. The film gives viewers a chance to observe not only how amazingly self aware and articulate the youngsters are, but also how easily accepted they appear to be by their young friends. The experiences of these real people provide a striking contrast with the media obsession with celebrity, abuse or bathrooms.
Chief among the decisions facing these families is whether to take “puberty blockers” that delay an individual’s maturation to give them more time before making more permanent decisions about hormone therapies, and then, whether to take hormone therapy. We observe the doctors’ conversations with their patients and their families, and come away with a greater understanding of the thoughtful struggles they engage in while trying to determine the best path forward.
The Appreciating Diversity Film Series will host two screenings of Growing Up Trans. The film will be followed by a panel discussion of parents and transgender youth in both Piedmont and Oakland.
In Piedmont @ 7 pm Dec. 7
Ellen Driscoll Theater / 325 Highland Ave (at Oakland Ave)/Piedmont
Doors open, light refreshments @ 6:30 pm,
Film at 7:00 pm, followed by panel discussion
In Oakland @ 3 pm Dec. 9
The New Parkway Theater / 474 24th Street (btw Telegraph & Broadway) / Oakland
Film at 3 PM, followed by panel discussion