12 unmissable trans documentaries to watch for #TransAwarenessWeek2020

From representation on screen to growing up trans, these outstanding documentaries shine a powerful light on the trans experience across the world.

A young man runs through a field carrying a trans flag
Image: HBO

Trans Awareness Week 2020 presents the perfect time to experience and learn from some wonderful documentaries about the lived experiences of the trans community. 

From queer history to the fight for recognition, there are a wide array of documentaries available following the lives of trans people. Balancing between joy and heartbreak, these stories capture the strength and beauty of the trans community. 

In the spirit of Trans Awareness Week 2020, here are some documentaries which are both informative and impactful:

Disclosure

One of the most crucial and eye opening documentaries on this list, Disclosure openly discusses misrepresentation of trans people in media. It’s a must watch film for understanding the ongoing struggle for inclusion on screen as well as the phenomenal community fighting for change behind the scenes. 

Trans and Proud: LGBTQ+ rights in Ireland 

In this wonderful and empowering short documentary, activist Hugh Murphy speaks with trans activist Noah Halpin about how far LGBTQ+ rights have come and what still needs to be done. It’s a riveting and inspirational look at the queer community in Ireland.

Tras 

Max and Victoria smiling in front of a red door. The couple is featured in one of the documentaries about the trans community on this list

One of the most heartwarming documentaries in Ireland, Tras follows a young Irish trans couple and the obstacles they have had to overcome as they discovered more about their own identities. It features Max from Sligo and Victoria from Cavan over a six month period, during which the couple must travel to Warsaw to access medical care that is not available in Ireland. It can be watched via this link

Boy to Woman: A Story of Trans Formation

This short documentary by a pair of Irish filmmakers depicts the journey of trans woman, Nicole Barbosa-Winther, throughout the process of gender confirmation surgery. The press release for her story states, “Nicole is a big personality, full of confidence and life, in spite of having to overcome stigma, depression and the physical and emotional demands of hormone treatment.”

Transhood

HBO’s latest documentary Transhood follows the five year journey of four trans youths growing up in America. Both lighthearted and deeply moving, the film highlights how families grapple and come to terms with gender as the children grow up.

Growing Up Coy

The documentary depicts a legal battle between parents and a Colardo public school after their 6 year-old trans child Coy Mathis was told she could not use the girls’ bathroom. It’s a fascinating exploration into both the American legal system as well as the pressures of the public eye.

Becoming More Visible

Four young trans folk share their stories of facing societal expectations and family traditions in this powerful documentary. Director Pamela French uplifts each person in telling their own experiences and creates an emotional watch.

The Queens

The Queens offers a behind-the-scenes look at the competitors in the Miss Continental competition. It shines a light on the experiences of trans contestants, who open up about their transitions and the journeys that led them to compete, including rejection from family and the difficulty in finding true and romantic relationships.

The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson 

How to Survive a Plague director David France’s exploration into the heroic life and tragic death of a pioneering queer rights activist will be a truly unforgettable experience. This trans icon has become a legend in the fight for equality and continues to inspire the LGBTQ+ community to this day.

The Cockettes

The jaw-dropping documentary The Cockettes follows a group of misfit queer performers in 1970’s San Francisco who took over the city with their wild midnight drag shows. Sadly, legendary trans performer and member of the group, Bambi Lake, passed away in November 2020 aged 70.

Paris is Burning

This documentary has become quintessential in learning about queer history. Paris is Burning portrays a riveting portrait of NY’s ballroom scene, from fierce contests for trophies to house mothers offering solace from a world rampant with homophobia, transphobia, racism, and poverty.

Call Her Ganda

Call Her Ganda follows the case of a trans Filipina woman, who was found murdered in a motel room, and the leading suspect, a US Marine. The heartbreaking documentary tracks the outrage and pain of activists in the country and their demands for accountability.

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