TRANS for change

Mari Otto

Photo by Hana Isihara ‘17 | The Lafayette

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Last Tuesday, director Chris Arnold and producer Mark Schoen presented their documentary TRANS as part of LGBT History Month. The documentary that has won five LGBT film festival awards tells the stories of remarkable individuals of all ages and walks of life.

TRANS portrays the transgender minority with a brush clean of all the stereotypes and biased associations that society has painted them with. The documentary hopes to change attitudes towards the transgender community through the hearts of its audience.

TRANS was influenced by Dr. Christine McGinn, a transgender surgeon, graduate of Moravian College, fraternity member, officer in the US navy, and now a mother who fathered her own children. McGinn asked Arnold and Schoen to portray the transgender group without the negative implications that have been used to describe them in the past. Trans was the result.

One of the more memorable subplots in TRANS is the life of Dannan Tyler, a striking seven year old who, born biologically a boy, identifies as a girl.

“My daughter is fine with being who she is; it is the rest of the society that has to catch up,” father Bill Tyler said in the film.

Tyler’s story pleas for recognition that her and individuals like her did not make the choice to be who they are. They simply want acceptance, just as they are able to accept themselves.

“During one of the screenings, a small ten year old kid came to see the documentary. I was wondering, ‘What is this child doing here?’ Yet, she sat through the documentary,” Schoen said when asked what the most rewarding aspect of the documentary was. “She told me that her dad is transgender and after seeing TRANS, she, for the first time, understood her father.”

Understanding one another is exactly what the documentary promotes, in hopes for a more open-minded society.

“The acceptance of this minority group is slower than that of any other,” Arnold said.

With a suicide attempt rate of 40 percent, the highest rate in the nation, it is clear that the transgender community struggles to identify with themselves largely due to the fear of discrimination and brutality that society responds with.

“We have to look at gender on a very wide spectrum, and this spectrum is greater than I have ever imagined” Schoen said. He stresses the significance of education, leading to the understanding that transgender individuals are people whose wildest hopes could be to lead normal lives.

These touching and emotional stories of the transgender community were shared and explored through the documentary, as brought to Lafayette College by the Gender and Sexuality Programs, Film and Media Studies Department, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department.