A recent documentary Transhood follows the growing up of four trans children for five years in the heartland of America.
The documentary Transhood, released on HBO in the US last Friday, tells the story of four transgender people and their loved ones. The documentary has been filmed for five years and tells the story of the strengthening of the gender identity of young people of different ages. The children were 4, 7, 12, and 15 at the start of the documentary.
The age of the youngest child, Phoenix, is 4 years. Parents point out in the document that no surgical changes are made to those under the age of 18, which is often overlooked in public debate.
For 4-year-olds, the process of change is purely social – which also has a huge impact. Also included is Avery, who was already quoted in the media at the age of 7 and appeared on the cover of National Geographic, among others.
The documentary is filmed only in the United States, and not in any of its metropolises. Transhood is filmed in director Sharon Liese’s hometown of Kansas. It also highlights the grim change that happened when Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
Moving and thought-provoking, the film explores how these families struggle and stumble through parenting, and how the kids are challenged and transformed as they experience the complexity of their identities.
Directed by Sharon Liese, Transhood captures the nuanced and authentic stories of four courageous families. While every journey is different, they share their honest and varied experiences as the young people display incredible resilience, facing rejection from their peers, body dysphoria and escalating political rhetoric that strives to invalidate LGBTQ+ lives.
All the while, the older kids navigate the minefield of adolescence. Sharing their most vulnerable moments, the parents reveal their ambivalence, doubts and missteps as they too transform over time.
Amid the politically and religiously conservative Kansas City community between 2014 and 2019, the parents grapple with their own adjustments to parenting while often facing resistance from extended family.
Through intimately shot verité footage of these families, Transhood takes us into the lives of:
Jay, who we first meet at age 12 and matures markedly both physically and emotionally throughout the film, struggling with a painful “outing” by his peers. He starts hormone blockers and while his mother is supportive of that step, they argue about their differing views around the very personal issue of disclosure.
Avery, who is 7 years old when the film begins, is eager to help change the world for other trans kids and, with her parents’ support, becomes a high-profile advocate, and National Geographic even features her picture on the cover of their issue on gender. Over the years, Avery grows wary of being in the public eye and makes her feelings known as she decides to pursue a different course.
Leena, who we meet at age 15, takes her family and best friend on an unexpected emotional journey as she becomes increasingly uncomfortable with adolescence. As Leena deals with the disappointment of her first love and works towards becoming a fashion model, she also experiences her personal goal of gender confirmation surgery when she turns 19.
Phoenix, who is a self-proclaimed “girl-boy” at 4 years old and later identifies as a girl but ultimately identifies as male by age 7. As Phoenix’s gender fluidity impacts the entire family, parents Molly and Zach struggle with their marriage and differing views on how to be the best parents to Phoenix.
One of the children, Jay, chooses to conceal his identity from a friend, as you might guess when it is revealed it doesn’t go well and the friendship breaks. It is not uncommon for transgender people not to immediately reveal their identities.
“It’s natural for us because we’re scared so much,” Jay stated in the documentary.
The oldest filming of the documentary is Leena, who dreams of a model career, who is seen heartily shopping for swimwear with her father. Later, viewers get to witness how his first relationship fails. Leena also talks about sex correction surgery.
In between the stories of the families, transgressive public speeches from politicians and Youtube channels have been cut, reminiscent of the reality that prevails in America.
Watch the trailer for Transhood on express below