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6 Transgender Films to Watch

Last February, What’s A Geek gave a list of four LGBT films to watch for Valentine’s Day. We kicked off more recommendations with lists for lesbian films, gay films, and bisexual films. In our final entry, we have six transgender films for everyone!


Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Release: 2001
Running Time: 92 minutes
Language: English

Hedwig Robinson (John Cameron Mitchell), a transgender singer, travels across America, trailing an old flame and singing about her life’s bad turns. As a boy, she was convinced by Luther Robinson, an American soldier, to undergo a sex change so that she can marry him and leave East Germany for America. The doctor botches the surgery and an inch of flesh remains. But no matter, since her husband leaves her for another man on their first wedding anniversary, which is followed the next day by the destruction of the Berlin Wall. She finds solace in writing music, which another flame, the one she trails presently, has stolen and through which he became famous.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a mixed bag, an unsentimental examination of a deeply flawed, and deeply angry, transgender. It is difficult to absorb at times due to Hedwig’s abrasive over and above the numerous indignities that made her abrasive in the first place. (It is not even clear whether Hedwig wanted to be a woman, of her own volition, before Luther suggests she should be one.) As a victim, robbed at every turn of what she could be, she cannot reconcile her failures with her dreams, and as a result lashes out at those around her, with a song and dance number to boot. It makes for a perfect statement on sex change not being the end all and be all of being transgender – it is only one way of being whole.

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Romeos

Romeos

Director: Sabine Bernardi
Release: 2011
Running Time: 96 minutes
Language: German

Lukas (Rick Okon) is transitioning from female to male when he is assigned to live in a female dormitory with his former best friend Ines (Liv Lisa Fries), who struggles with accepting Lukas’ transition. Waiting to be reassigned to male dormitory, he becomes acquainted with someone there, the ladies’ man Fabio (Maximilian Befort), Lukas’ ideal image of manhood made flesh. But his respect becomes infatuation, and soon it becomes apparent that Fabio may be as interested as he is.

Romeos is a competent introduction to the trans community, with its teenage characters and their lighter preoccupations with youth culture balancing the heavier double whammy of transitioning and finding out one’s sexuality. And by addressing the online support system of trans people, it gives a more hopeful, and more modern, perspective of the transgender life, which is always welcome in a field crowded with both mindless tragedies and campy farces.

Transamerica

Transamerica

Director: Duncan Tucker
Release: 2005
Running Time: 103 minutes
Language: English

Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman) finds out one day that she has a son, Toby Wilkins (Kevin Zegers), from a previous girlfriend. (Toby was conceived when she had not yet realized she was transgender.) Toby is in jail, and has called for help from his father, Stanley Schupak. Bree wants no part of her former life, but a therapist blocks her vaginoplasty, demanding that Bree reconcile with her past before she undergoes gender corrective surgery. Bree bails out her son from jail, but has to cross the country looking for a shelter to take him in, all the while not disclosing that she is his father.

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It is difficult to see the way the past arrives to disturb and arrest a trans person’s development. Here is laid that very specific trans problem of how one treats new family, new connections, when their experience of family is full of hurt and distress. Bree’s family determines how she is able to connect and bond with others, and the problem of Toby’s existence is essentially the problem of Bree’s solitary existence.

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Abdul Rafi O
Abdul Rafi O
Not a comedian but definitely a cringe. A walking argument for Shift-Ctrl-T for the brain, this dork likes to wallow in shallow pools of soft, pillowy cake where he can read and geek in peace. His life's dream is to be a Mashrou' Leila groupie. Caps lock rage at him: @vecordy
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