Last night, I went to a viewing of a new documentary called Trans at the Denver GLBT Center. It was very well attended and the film itself was one of the best representations of what it’s like to be transgender that I’ve ever seen.
I finally got to the Center about 10 minutes before everything was supposed to start. I walked into to find a large group sitting and talking. There looked to be almost 50 people (I checked with the organizer who confirmed the 50 number afterwards). It was held in the common area on the main level where they usually keep library books. But, the bookshelves had been rolled away and in their place were rows and rows of chairs. A projector and film screen stood at one end. I didn’t think that room could hold so many people.
Usually, I wouldn’t have been able to walk into a room this crowded. But, I guess I’m getting comfortable at the Center. I walked by a friend. Said Hi. But, I wasn’t entirely comfortable for small talk. For some reason, I chose to walk all the way up to the front and ended up sitting in the far left side in the second row. As I headed to my seat, several friends from group said hi to me. A couple from the other side of the room. Right in the middle of the movie, I caught a man, who might be a transman looking at me. It happened more than once. Perhaps, since I don’t pass as female (and I don’t even try) maybe he was trying to gauge if I was a transman as well. But, who knows. One person I haven’t yet met in person told me later over Facebook that she saw me but didn’t introduce herself. Damn. I guess I’ll have to work on my cloak of invisibility. Right before the movie started, the center’s transgender programs coordinator walked past me, put her hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear “Glad you could make it.”
The documentary tells the stories of several transgender identifying individuals. There was a young child born a boy, but identifies as a girl, the former Naval Officer who changed her name to a more feminine name the day before her discharge so her paperwork portrays that name, the female to male young man who evolves over the course of the film, and the story of a deceased young lady who was just coming to terms with being trans, but was in a difficult spot. She ended up killing herself.
All the stories hit buttons with me. And as I sat there, knowing things about many of the people around me since we talk about our lives in group, as certain stories were told, I would think about my friends around the room. There was the friend sitting two seats to my right who had gone through something very similar. Or the very brave person behind me who I knew had something in common with one of the people talking on the screen. There was a transman on the other side of the room who I knew had something in common with two people in the film. I wish I could have sat there with him. I don’t think many people in the room escaped without grabbing a tissue at the conclusion.
It was the story of the young transwoman who was just coming to terms with her fate when she took her own life that really had an impact on me. All through high school she suffered with anxiety. And it wasn’t until she graduated and moved away to northern California, did she come out to a female friend. But, she was in a difficult place. She had several outside stressors pushing on her and she couldn’t take it any longer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about ending my life in the way she chose. One of the most heart wrenching moments was watching her father read the last letter he had received from her. It’s horribly sad to see all these people who loved her. She was in such a dark place that she either didn’t see them or didn’t have the confidence to come to them in her time of need. I’ve been there. It’s an incredibly hard thing to live with. And I felt incredibly alone. I’m grateful that I know now that I’m not alone and that I know I can reach out to friends and family if I have too.
If you want a better idea of what it’s like to be trans without a lot of cliche’s, I highly recommend this movie. It sounds like the producers are still trying line up distribution deals. So, it’s not on Netflix yet. But, it is for sale on their site here.
Oh, and make sure you wait until after the credits roll. You won’t be dissapointed.