8 heartwarming trans films you should watch

Enjoy these feel-good films featuring trans actors and storylines.

Two women sit across from each other at a table in the movie, Tangerine, for this article that celebrates trans films.
Image: Twitter @IWCriticwire

Transgender actors and stories are severely underrepresented in media. When trans stories are told, they often focus on the painful and traumatic aspects of the community’s experiences. In honour of Transgender Awareness Week, why not switch on one of the films that celebrates trans joy through heart-warming storylines that honour diverse gender identities.

Whether you are looking for a love story, thriller, or a comedy, here are eight feel-good films featuring heartwarming trans narratives.

Tangerine (2015)
When Sin-Dee-Rella, a transgender sex worker, learns that her boyfriend cheated on her with a cis woman, she promises her friends that she can look for them without causing drama. However, this proves to be a challenge. This film is full of comedy, friendship, and authentic connections.

Anything’s Possible (2022)
If you’re looking for a love story, Anything’s Possible is a delightful must-see. Kelsa is a self-assured trans girl who is enjoying her senior year of high school and she is trying to figure out if she has a crush. When her classmate, Khal, asks her out, they embark on a romantic adventure with all the thrills of teenage love. It’s sweet and funny – everything we want in a Gen Z rom-com.

Gun Hill Road (2011)
After spending three years in prison, Enrique returns home to New York where his teenage child, Michael, is transitioning. Enrique struggles with his own manhood and traditional ideas about masculinity, but knows he needs to overcome those struggles and accept Michael for who she is. Although it deals with complicated themes, this film is praised for its sensitivity and understanding and is ultimately an uplifting film about family and acceptance.

Boy Meets Girl (2014)
Described as both “sweetly profound” and “provocative,” this romantic comedy follows a group of 20-something friends living in rural Kentucky. A fashion designer and trans girl called Ricky decides to date girls for the first time, and on top of exploring those feelings, has to navigate difficult friendships along the way. While she encounters some transphobia, overall this film is sensitive, beautiful, and hopeful.

Laurence Anyways (2012)
When Laurence tells his girlfriend, Fred, that they want to become a woman, Fred overcomes her initial discomfort and embraces Laurence. Together, they brave all of the transphobia they encounter from their friends and families to live their love story as their authentic selves. This Canadian drama is described as a cinematic symphony with beautiful scenes about love and connection including one where Fred teaches Laurence how to do her makeup.

Drunktown’s Finest (2014)
Three young Navajo people, including a trans woman named Felicia, leave their Native American reservation to pursue their own careers. The film is written and directed by Sydney Freeland, a trans woman of colour and includes trans Native American representation.

The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is probably the most famous movie written and directed by a trans woman. Although she wasn’t out at the time, Lana Wachowski co-wrote and co-directed this film about a group of revolutionary hackers who start a rebellion against the robots who are enslaving earth. This film is full of trans symbolism and the matrix is described as, “the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you of the truth.”

Bit (2019)
Looking for a queer creatures-of-the-night feminist vampire horror film? Well this one’s for you! After transitioning, a transgender teenager decides to spend her summer vacation with her brother in Los Angeles. There, she gets invited to a party where she befriends four queer feminist vampires who are trying to rid their city of predatory men because “men can’t handle power” in this comedy horror.

These films are a great way to recharge, reflect, and celebrate Trans Awareness Week. In need of more content for your watchlist? Be sure to check out these television shows that feature trans and non-binary actors, too.

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