Stories of trans joy from Out On Screen for Trans Day of Visibility

March 31, 2023

Image from Ur Aska (2019) directed by Myra Hild.

Gavin, Danny, Avery, and Charlie share what Trans Day of Visibility means to them and recommend four films illuminating different parts of the trans experience that you can watch online now.

For the first time, I felt real.

A slightly blurry photo of Gavin smiling widely at the beach looking towards their child, who is out of frame.

Growing up, I didn’t know it was possible to be anything other than what the doctors told my parents I was when I was born. I always felt “tomboyish”; I loved being outdoors, playing sports, and wearing baggy clothes. I always felt like I didn’t quite fit, but lacked the language to describe how I felt and didn’t see representations of transgender people in the media or in my communities.

I remember hearing the word “genderqueer” for the first time when I was 18; it struck a chord that resonated so strongly in me that, all of a sudden, for the first time, I felt real. Gender-queer. Queer as in strange, odd, different. Queer as in my gender.

Transgender Day of Visibility means getting to exist as I am, and, by virtue of being myself openly, offering glimmers of possibility and permission for others to exist outside of what was expected of them or who the world told them they were supposed to be.

Gavin (they/them)
Education Director

Gavin recommends Ur Aska (2019), dir. Myra Hild

Ur Aska is a Danish animated short, and presents a beautiful allegory on transition and explores how love can prevail even as our relationships with others might change. If you’re an educator, you can create an account to access all Out In Schools films and lesson plans for free. Please use your school-based email address. 

Being authentic to ourselves is itself an act of protest

Danny wearing dark lipstick and white freckle makeup, throwing a peace sign.

My name is Danny, and my pronouns are he/him and they/them. I am a queer, non-binary, trans man. I conceptualize my gender as being near enough to the “man” box that I’m comfortable with being perceived as such, but far enough from the box to have an experience of gender distinct from binary men. To me, Trans Day of Visibility is about being my true self, out in the open. 

There are risks and barriers that come with being visibly trans; being authentic to ourselves is itself an act of protest. It’s also about showing (and seeing) that it’s possible to be trans and have a life filled with happiness and love. There is so much to being trans that we so rarely get to see because the few depictions of us in the media are so often centered on tragedy. Trans Day of Visibility is an opportunity to highlight the joy and magic of our community, and all the amazing things folks are doing.

Danny (he/they)
Out In Schools Program Coordinator

Danny recommends A Typical Fairytale (2018), dir. Annette Reilly

My film recommendation is A Typical Fairytale, written by non-binary filmmaker Jess McLeod and starring young genderfluid actor Ameko Eks Mass Carroll. It’s a cute, quirky short about a young couple, their child’s divergence, and their decision to love and support their Prince despite their fears. If you’re an educator, you can create an account to access all Out In Schools films and lesson plans for free. Please use your school-based email address. 

I saw all the possibilities of who I could be

Avery looks behind them at the camera in a wheelchair, black tank and dark shades.

When I was younger, the world was so big. 

The big adults bombarded me with “possibilities” for my “potential”. And when I was younger, I did dream big—but those dreams slowly shrank as I grew. I didn’t see how “someone like me” could simply exist, let alone be in community with others like myself.

And then I found Transgender Day of Visibility. I saw so many different people’s existence. I was exposed to so many ways of being! I saw their potential, and I felt in community.

On Transgender Day of Visibility, I saw all the possibilities of who I could be while being true to myself in all aspects.

Avery (they/them)
Out In Schools Program Coordinator

Avery recommends Meet the Transgender NCAA Swimmer from Harvard produced by the Olympics

My film recommendation is the short documentary Meet The Transgender Swimmer From Harvard, which highlights Schuyler Bailar’s incredible journey to becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an NCAA level. Watch this video on Youtube.

Life has been everything I was told I couldn’t have

Photo of Charlie in a black t-shirt and looking to the left.

I grew up lonely and spent hours in front of the mirror looking for ways I could look more like a boy. It wasn’t until seeing conversations about puberty blockers in the media in 2017 that I dared to dream of what my life could have been like if I’d experienced my adolescence today.

Later that year, I was attending a queer film festival when a handsome man talked to me, and over our little chat, disclosed that he was a trans man. That was it. That was all I needed for my life to change forever.

I realized I could be the man I had been hiding all my life from everyone but myself. I could be proud, I could be out, I could feel safe, I could be happy, and I could even be handsome! Since that day, life has been everything I was told it couldn’t be: a journey filled with love, freedom and, growth. And it was made possible by the visibility of others who’d gone on this journey before me.

Charlie (he/they)
Artistic Director

Charlie recommends Disclosure (2020), dir. Sam Feder

I think everyone needs to watch Disclosure, an incredible, eye-opening documentary about the history of trans representation in Hollywood featuring trans artists and filmmakers. What people know and believe about trans people is informed primarily from what they see in the media, and trans representation in media is full of tropes and harmful narratives. Watch this film on Netflix and check out the many toolkits and discussion guides on their website to see how you can advocate for trans people in your community, school, or workplace.

International Transgender Day of Visibility takes place every year on March 31st and celebrate trans people, bringing awareness to trans experiences. Founded by activist Rachel Candall in 2009, this day specifically focuses on celebrating trans people, trans community, and trans joy.

Stories about trans people and experiences in film, TV, and media oftentimes focus on tragedy and violence as well as harmful misrepresentations and stereotypes. However, as you see in these personal accounts and films, the trans experience is so much brighter and broader than what is shown in the mainstream. Trans lives deserve to be visible in their entirety, and we invite you to join us in continuing to share and hear stories from trans individuals and artists.

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