This is a site dedicated to depictions of trans men throughout film, television, documentaries, and video games.
I'm writing from the perspective of a trans man, and my primary intended audience is other trans men (as I can best speak about FTM experiences), but I also wish to give AFAB non-binary individuals a place to seek out media that represents them. So, there are also reviews of non-binary and transmasc characters.
Invisibility of trans men is perpetuated by documentaries like Disclosure, which (while a good production overall) erased many of the films I'd have liked to see critiqued. This is an effort to collate media which often goes unappreciated and unmentioned.
These reviews are my opinion only. I recommend doing your own research into media before you engage with it, especially since many trans-centric plots and discussions may bring up bad memories of your own experiences. There are spoilers ahead, to forewarn potentially upsetting scenes. There is also discussion of challenging themes, including assault, homelessness, and bigotry. Some reviews include potentially dysphoria-inducing topics, like pregnancy, and there is the occasional reclaimed slur too.
Some butches identify as transmasculine (as seen in this Reddit thread and this butch video), so a few reviews have been written with those transmasc butches in mind. However, the author recognises that not all butches identify as being within the transmasc community. To learn more about butch gender complexity, the book Stone Butch Blues is recommended (provided you are prepared for extremely confronting content). You can access it here.
For more information on labels and gender terms, see this list as a starting point. Please refer to this page for information on chest binding. This page features FTM and transmasc videos that you might connect with. If you'd like to say hello, please use this contact form!
Man Made (2018)
Man Made will bring tears to your eyes, and revolutionise your understanding of trans male communities. It is refreshing, honest, gritty, and diverse. Man Made doesn't shy away from the realities of being transgender, doesn't sugarcoat what it's like to be assigned a gender that you innately can't connect with, but ultimately offers a message of love and acceptance. Everything is discussed: Transitioning, sex, love, work, fitness, family, ethnicity, suicide, depression, euphoria, homelessness, and so much more.
Plenty of content warnings apply to this film, but only because the trans director wished to give his interviewees ample chances to share their stories. There is so much wisdom, pride, and complexity in this documentary.
In Man Made, a trans man lifts weights while wearing a binder. View this page to understand why that could be dangerous for you.
Passing: Profiling the Lives of Young Transmen of Color (2015)
Passing features interviews with trans men of colour. They discuss invisibility, transitioning, relationships, and feeling erased within LGBT+ spaces. It is an absolutely wonderful film that I highly recommend watching.
Everybody should connect with the insights that these men can offer, no matter your gender or sexuality or ethnicity. Trans men are historically (and currently) very erased, and this is especially an issue for trans men of colour. This documentary is an efficient and eloquent way to push back against that erasure, and dismantle limited rhetoric about what being trans looks like, and who has a voice in trans spaces. Trans men of colour, and all trans men, deserve to take up space and be listened to.
YOU DON'T KNOW DICK
You Don’t Know Dick: The Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men (1997)
You Don't Know Dick is a wonderful documentary, especially for 1997. It stars amazing trailblazers Jamison Green and Loren Cameron, who have been largely erased as trans pioneers. I would highly recommend watching it. It features interviews with trans men, discussing all aspects of their lives: Romance, surgery, families, parenthood, aspirations, coming out, mental health, sex, religion, libido, etc. At least one of the men is a bisexual, one of them is gay, and several are straight. The documentary features interviews with family members of the trans men, most of whom are supportive. Unfortunately, you may need an academic login to watch this one.
Shinjuku Boys (1995)
This documentary follows three Japanese transmasculine people, one of them hormonally transitioning, as they work in an LGBT bar. Gender identity, sexuality, and complicated relationships to gender roles are discussed in honest, unflinching interviews. As this documentary is set within the context of Japanese onabe communities, some of the mindsets and language may be unfamiliar, but that shouldn't scare you away from watching. Many of their experiences are universal among FTM and transmasculine communities. You can learn more about Japanese trans men here.
There is unsafe binding in this documentary. Visit this page to learn more.
TWIZ & TUCK
Twiz & Tuck (2017)
This bonkers documentary series is six episodes long. It follows best friends Twiz and Tuck as they embark on a wild, chaotic roadtrip. Twiz is a masculine gender-variant person with Tourette's syndrome. Tuck is a trans man with a past career in adult films, who loves adopting dogs. The series oscillates between crass, explicit jokes and activities, and softer, more meditative scenes. They talk about finding family beyond your biological relatives, affirming yourself through surgery, and being in the grey area between (and outside of) male and female.
This documentary really allows the personalities of the interviewees to shine through, and is the furthest thing you can imagine from the sanitised, one-dimensional, stereotypical depictions of transmasculinity that movies like 3 Generations offer. The final episode includes some heartbreaking moments, particularly when Twiz discusses his father's transphobia and hostility.
Southern Comfort (2001)
Robert Eads was a transsexual man who died of ovarian cancer, after being denied a hysterectomy by transphobic doctors. This documentary follows him in his final year of life, and is both heartbreaking and beautiful in its honesty. Robert’s friends and partner are all interviewed, along with his parents and other members of the community, making this a valuable snapshot of an important moment in FTM history. Multiple trans men, and two trans women, are interviewed about Robert's life and their own experiences. Relationships, sex, transitioning, parenthood, and family are all explored.
Some of the language and mindsets are now outdated, particularly in terms of the interviewees' negative views on FTM bottom surgery. For what it's worth, bottom surgery options have improved a great deal since Southern Comfort was filmed, and many trans men have undergone satisfactory operations.
FROM DADDY'S TUMMY
From Daddy’s Tummy (2015)
This is an amazing documentary about an Australian man who postponed his hormonal transition in order to carry his own child. I would really recommend watching, and (surprisingly) this film didn’t trigger my dysphoria at all. I could never do what AJ did, but I admire him so very much for his commitment to being a father.
Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth (2019)
Seahorse is very beautiful and is wonderfully filmed, if a little slow-paced for my taste. It is a unique and very special glance into the journey of a trans man who chooses to carry his own child. I would personally recommend From Daddy's Tummy over Seahorse, but it's still an important production.
NOT A BOY, NOT A GIRL
Not a Boy, Not a Girl (2020)
This is a pretty good documentary about young people who identify as non-binary. Their families are interviewed, and doctors offer their views about puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. A child psychologist discusses how they approach treating and assessing young people who are outside of the gender binary, and they also defend the legitimacy of non-binary identities and labels. It's mostly aimed at convincing cis people that non-binary individuals deserve respect.
Coby is about trans manhood, and features extensive interviews with a trans man, his partner, and his family. The film alternates between modern, feature film-quality footage of himself in his daily life, and archives of video diaries that he took throughout his transition. Viewers get to see him in his youth, with a higher voice and a smaller body, and his subsequent boyhood as he began to grow facial hair and change into a man. I’d definitely recommend this documentary to other trans men, and to families who are trying to adjust.
This documentary features numerous transgender men and women. Many guys are interviewed, from an early-transition boy named Cris who previously identified as a lesbian, to Jamison Green, who was a pioneer for the FTM community after Lou Sullivan passed away. My one complaint about the documentary is that it’s outdated in some respects, and is needlessly triggering (to the point of being exploitative), but certain scenes can easily be skipped. The rest of the documentary really is worth viewing, despite how cis-centric it is. You can view excerpts here, but be prepared for mentions of self-harm, hate crimes, and transphobia.
Probably the worst scenes in this documentary include interviews with a family whose attitudes and actions led to the suicide of a young trans woman. Far from holding themselves accountable, some of them seem to just be enjoying the spotlight. Those interviews were extremely uncomfortable, and I skip them whenever I dare rewatch this documentary.
There is unsafe binding in this documentary. Visit this page to learn more.
LOU SULLIVAN INTERVIEWS
Female-to-(Gay) Male Transsexualism series
FTM pioneer Lou Sullivan discusses transitioning and fighting for the rights of gay trans people, which was a new concept in an age when all trans individuals were expected to be heterosexual. To get some perspective on the work done by previous generations, to fight for the right to self-identify in any way preferred, I would highly recommend giving this series a watch. Thank you to Kasper for reaching out and providing these links!
You need to prepare yourself for outdated viewpoints, language, and a logic of FTM identity that borders on misgendering (from Dr Ira Pauly). But these interviews are groundbreaking nonetheless, and hearing Sullivan's voice and story is so important.
Trans men are often erased from retellings of trans history, but we've always been here, and we've always made an impact.
Don't be fooled- this isn't just a documentary about clothing! It's about so much more than that. Filmmakers take the time to interview a range of trans people, who have different identities and are at varying stages of their transitions. Family life, transitioning, employment difficulties, gender dysphoria, and a huge range of subjects are discussed. The majority of the interviewees are transgender men and transmasculine people.
Mental health, suicidal ideation, and bigotry are discussed, but nothing graphic or too confronting; just people sharing their life stories and struggles. One interviewee reclaims the f-slur, so if that will be upsetting for you, be prepared for that. A trans man is filmed as he goes in for his hysterectomy, and is interviewed while sitting in his hospital bed. Fair warning, he uses potentially dysphoria-inducing anatomical terms for his organs and genitalia.
Overall, I'd say this is a pretty positive and diverse film!
NO ORDINARY MAN
No Ordinary Man (2020)
Rather than a straightforward documentary about a historical figure, much of No Ordinary Man features auditions where various trans men read a script and put themselves forward as candidates for the role of Billy Tipton. It's not clear whether this hypothetical film will actually be made. No Ordinary Man tries to walk the line between this odd premise and a genuinely insightful commentary on transmasculinity and trans manhood. Much of the time it succeeds, although I think it's somewhat bogged down by the strange approach it took. I found it very weird that many of the trans men auditioning to play Tipton did not look like him in the slightest. But I think the inclusion of drastically different trans men is more of a statement about FTM diversity than accurately portraying Tipton.
All that being said, this is a film that features heaps of trans men at many different stages of their transitions. It is unparalleled in terms of what it offers for our community. Marquise Vilson, Amos Mac, Scott Turner Schofield, Jamison Green, and Ryan Cassata are among the cast. Billy Tipton Jr. is interviewed, and he is very affirming of his father's identity.
If filmmakers say they can't find trans male actors, No Ordinary Man is evidence that they just didn't try!
Meet The Girl Who Became A Man (1937)
Peter Alexander, interviewed in Sydney, speaks of his sex change from female to male. He discusses the aspects of his personality which influenced his decision, his view of women in society, and his plans for the future. Remember- trans men have always existed, and we deserve to be included in trans histories!
THEN AND NOW
Then and Now: Trans Men Share Their Stories (2015)
A beautiful, but tragic, interview with two Australian trans men. Andrew and Dale founded The (FTM) Shed together, which has since expanded to be a transmasc space. They discuss their advocacy, and Dale shares his experiences... which are devastating. He talks about the conversion therapy he underwent, being homeless, accessing illegal hormones, being abused, struggling to find work, and the specific issues faced by ageing trans men. This history matters.
9-1-1: LONE STAR
9-1-1: Lone Star (2020)
Brian Michael Smith made history when he became the first out, black trans man in a series regular role on national television. I really like how this show handles trans representation, how his character is depicted, and how strong he is. It’s absolutely wonderful to see myself represented by Paul (Smith’s character). I would highly recommend 9-1-1: Lone Star as a refreshingly progressive (and inclusive) procedural firefighter show. I'm so glad this series exists! Paul's struggles with dating, transphobia, disclosure, and family acceptance are thoughtfully handled.
Overall, the show has a decent number of gore/accident scenes, and the occasional self-harm depiction. Drug addiction and alcoholism is also tackled.
Depending where you're located, you should be able to watch this show on a number of different platforms.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Work in Progress (2019)
Work in Progress is very sweet and authentic, right down to the casting. A 45 year-old, self-identified "fat, queer dyke" (who also identifies as "not a lesbian") falls in love with a 22 year-old trans man after meeting him at the restaurant where he works. Chris, the trans man, is played by Theo Germaine, a trans actor.
The series tackles issues including family conflict, suicide, death, STI stigma, bathroom safety, OCD, and dysphoria, but it's not depressing to watch (for me, anyway). It's one of the most unique shows I've ever seen, and it's very funny. I would not trust many shows or films to portray a romance between a "dyke" and a trans man, without delegitimising and invalidating the manhood of the trans guy involved. As it is, Work in Progress is very respectful, and at all points, emphasises that Chris is happy to enter into the relationship. Abby sees Chris as a man, and refers to him as such.
TALES OF THE CITY
Tales of the City (2019)
I barely even know where to start with Tales of the City, and its contribution to trans male representation. Jake Rodriguez (a trans man) is played by trans actor Garcia, who does an amazing job of communicating the complexities of transitioning to male whilst still in a relationship with a lesbian.
Beyond the stellar acting and being able to see a body like mine onscreen, I think I was struck by Jake's storyline because it brought to mind Jess T Dugan's interview with Mitch, a 55 year-old guy who had remained with his lesbian partner, despite now identifying as a gay man. There are complexities to being a trans man that many mainstream depictions of transmasculinity bulldoze over, and Tales of the City completely avoided such trope-heavy mistakes. Instead, we get to see Jake exploring sex with men, juggling the new gender roles he's been landed with, and trying to reconcile his love for a woman with everything he's learning about himself. Importantly, the show gives equal time to Margot, Jake's girlfriend. I highly recommend watching Tales of the City for their storyline. It should be available on Netflix.
Billions (2016, S2 onwards)
I like the trans representation in this show, and I like how the character’s gender is handled. Taylor, a non-binary person, is androgynous and non-conforming, and very much breaks the mould of an otherwise typical drama show. Several of the protagonists become adversaries of the non-binary character, but even when plotting on how to take them down, they continue to use they/them pronouns to address their enemy. The consensus is that Taylor’s business practices and dealings are fair game to criticise, but their gender is not. I really enjoy that aspect of the show.
Taylor is played by a non-binary person (Asia Kate Dillon) who made history with this role. Taylor has relationships with both men and women. Provided you’re comfortable with the nature of the program overall, Billions is a great example of transgender non-binary representation. There’s no escaping the fact that (as per the show’s name), the central themes include obscene wealth, capitalist corruption, and rich people’s drama. I find Billions bearable, though it's not my favourite program. The worst aspect of the show is its misogyny, including the tokenising of a female rape survivor.
THE GOOD DOCTOR
The Good Doctor (S04E09)
This episode uses an Autistic character as a vehicle to show what is, and isn't, acceptable to say to trans people. A trans man who is in hospital to have a brain tumour treated is discovered to be pregnant, which complicates the treatment options available to him. I did like some aspects of the episode. The trans man is in an established relationship with a gay man, he is played by a trans male actor of colour, he discusses his desire for fatherhood, and the seriousness of dysphoria is addressed. The Autistic protagonist overcomes offensive views and apologises for invasive comments, which was good. It was very sweet to see Rio (the trans man) say "we're going to be dads" to his partner.
Rio's partner initially insists that it's impossible for Rio to be pregnant, because Rio is on Testosterone. This is misinformation, as AFAB people can fall pregnant even while on HRT, so birth control (like condoms) is still recommended.
Orphan Black (S02E08)
This show is a science fiction thriller focussed on a group of clones trying to figure out their origins, and wrestle back independence from their creators. Midway through season 2, a new clone (who is assigned female at birth) is introduced, with facial hair and a deeper voice. His name is Tony Sawicki, and he is secure in his male identity, even when confronted with the truth of his conception. I really, really enjoyed this brief representation of FTM experiences. Within one episode, they showed Tony injecting Testosterone, wearing a proper chest binder, and flirting with a cisgender man. Most trans representation comes alongside triggering scenes, and Tony was a refreshing example of casual FTM characterisation.
While (ideally) trans actors should be the ones to play trans roles, this was quite a unique situation, as Tony was a clone. So, the actor obviously wasn't going to be trans. Some trans viewers disagree with that take, and believe he should not have been included in the show at all. Each to their own.
Y: THE LAST MAN
Y: The Last Man (2021)
In this rebooted series, Elliot Fletcher plays Sam Jordan, and Harrison Browne (famous FTM hockey player) briefly plays Silas. Both of these men are trans. The premise of Y: The Last Man is that everyone with a Y chromosome has died. Rather than mimicking the source material and leaving it at the idea that "all men are dead", the reboot clarifies that cis men, trans women, non-binary people, and some intersex people all died, because they had Y chromosomes. Whereas cis women, trans men, some intersex people, and many non-binary people survived.
The title of the show references the survival of one final cis man, who did not die when all other cis men did... Why they chose to retain the title, when he is evidently not the last man left alive, puzzles me. I didn't like the show, and dropped off after the first two episodes. It wasn't very compelling- but that's just my opinion.
The Fosters (2013)
The Fosters features two trans male characters, named Cole and Aaron, both played by trans actors! Aaron is particularly central to the show, and had a groundbreaking romance with his girlfriend, which you can read about here. I'm yet to watch the show myself, but it seems to be decent in terms of trans male representation.
The OA (2016)
Speaking for myself only, this is a badly-written and uncomfortable show. I found it confusing at best and insulting at worst. I stopped watching season 1 when a psychologically traumatised cis man was raped by a woman, and his experience was met with a complete lack of support or seriousness, despite the fact that he was utterly unable to consent to what happened. The transgender representation was not enough to keep me watching, especially when the plot is so thin and tenuous.
You may enjoy this show, and it does get points for casting a trans person (Ian Alexander) in a trans male role. Be prepared for a confusing premise, misgendering, deadnaming, and violence if you give it a go. Also, a ridiculous (and inappropriate) scene that implies magical hand-waving can deflect bullets during school shootings.
Faking it (S3)
Overall, I found Faking It so insufferable and poorly-written that I skipped around and exclusively watched Noah's (Elliot Fletcher's) scenes. It's pretty stereotypical, but still good in terms of the representation it offers. All of Noah's dialogue is as cliché and predictable as everything else that every character says, but issues referenced throughout his storyline include homelessness, disclosure, transphobia, and the separation of gender and sexuality. That's worth something, despite the quality of the program. The writers conjure Noah's transphobic brother out of nowhere, in S03E10. He deadnames, misgenders, and insults Noah, then backs off (with unrealistic restraint) when Noah is defended by his cis gay boyfriend. All in all, a cheesy but sweet few episodes.
THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
The Bold and the Beautiful (E7073-E7140)
I sat through several episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful in order to provide this review. You owe me.
This show is terribly written, painfully cis-centric, and generous with its heapings of transphobia (mainly directed at a trans female character), but Scott Turner Schofield’s appearances are fun. He's a trans guy playing a gay trans man, which is shockingly progressive for such a piss-poor show. (Again, these reviews are not impartial.) He jokes about storing Testosterone, at the expense of a clueless cis character who has no idea what that means. That gave me a laugh. Anyway, probably give this one a miss? Unless your tastes are drastically different to mine. Which is entirely possible. Lower your expectations and have fun, I suppose.
Umbrella Academy (S03E02 onwards)
Elliot Page has been extremely public about his transition and, following this, his character on the Umbrella Academy has transitioned as well. In this interview, you can listen to Page speak about his experience on set, and about feeling respected as a trans actor who got to influence the show's transition plot. I did not enjoy the Umbrella Academy in earlier episodes, so I won't be watching it, but the trans aspect of the show appears to be solid.
I feel obligated to mention the reasons I stopped watching the show originally. Not only did a main character (Allison) abuse a man by using mind control to make him love her, it was heavily implied that she raped him while he was in this altered state, leading to her becoming pregnant. He was portrayed as the 'bad guy' for holding her accountable, and for protecting himself and their daughter, which I found disgusting. In season 3, reportedly, Allison escalates to attempting to rape her adopted brother. My personal opinion is that Page's character is not worth the repeated mishandling of sexual abuse storylines.
DEAD OF SUMMER
Dead of Summer (2016)
I watched this show purely because I heard there was a trans male character in it, and I wouldn’t repeat the experience. Chiefly, the show employs shocking and disturbing themes which, even given the fact it’s a horror series, are totally unnecessary and unwatchable. In particular I was disgusted by the awful depictions of suicide and self-harm. They did include a warning before such content, for what it's worth... Even so, it was awful.
That being said, I did enjoy the trans male characterisation in this show, up to a point. The actress did her best to be respectful and portray a trans male well, but the plot turned his gender identity into a sinful secret that he was hiding from those around him, which is an old (and harmful) trope. He spends much of the show being blackmailed for his gender, or being haunted by a ghost of his past self, but he does get a nice gay romance too.
CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)
Theo, who began the series as Susie, is a transgender boy played by trans actor Lachlan Watson. The series itself is (in my opinion) a weird mix of juvenile and awful, but many young folks will likely relate to depictions of dysphoria, same-gender attraction, and masculinity in an AFAB kid.
Theo is pretty savagely beaten at the start of the show, and faces transphobic bullying throughout the episodes, which does cease as the series progresses. Be wary of that.
Star Trek: Discovery (S3 onwards)
The trans representation in this show is certainly rooted in science fiction and extraterrestrial themes, but it’s pretty beautiful nonetheless! One of the trans characters is a non-binary person who goes by they/them pronouns, and clarifies this with their crewmates during their first episode. They are portrayed by a non-binary actor (Blu del Barrio), and their trans love interest is portrayed by Ian Alexander, another trans actor.
Shameless (US, 2011)
For various reasons (the crass and deliberately offensive themes, for one), Shameless is not my cup of tea. Elliot Fletcher plays Trevor, a trans male character who is just as flawed and imperfect as the rest of the dysfunctional, occasionally abusive cast of characters. I haven’t watched the whole show, so you ought to approach it with caution in lieu of an actual review to guide you, but it does get points for casting a trans man in a trans male role. He sticks around for several seasons and is the love interest of a cis gay man.
Golden Girls (S03E07)
Gil Kessler's transition and gender identity is played as a joke. From the beginning of the episode, another character states that she could tell something was "wrong" with Gil, and this is apparently confirmed when he outs himself as a transsexual, needlessly revealing his birth name to a room of people. He is characterised as wimpy, effeminate, and weak, the implication being that he is neither a real man nor a particularly impressive one. This is a poor and offensive depiction of female-to-male transsexuals.
This is a sweet coming-of-age film, featuring a young transmasculine actor (Sasha Knight) in the role of a trans boy. It's wonderful, and a recommended watch for anyone who has felt disappointed by mainstream representations of transmasculinity during youth. I wish I had been able to watch this film growing up.
I particularly loved the film’s depiction of a cis father who, despite being uneducated about trans people, is desperate to support his son. He also struggles to manage his bipolar disorder, which is an arc depicted with great sensitivity. As this review puts it: "Steve Zahn plays Troy with an excitable warmth, sensibly avoiding the wide-eyed mania which is often the tedious go-to." Great stuff.
A gay trans man played by a trans actor (Pete MacHale) has fun with his boyfriend, and they discuss his gender presentation. The movie has a happy ending. It’s very sweet and light-hearted. I only wish it was the length of a feature film. The trans man has the goal of embracing flamboyant clothing and painted nails, now that his gender dysphoria has been alleviated by top surgery and masculinising hormones. It is apparent in the film that he is versatile (sex is discussed, and viewers see his penile prosthetic).
Dungarees can be viewed as part of a gay short film pack, available here. Apart from that, you may need to do some hunting to find it.
This is a beautiful film, if a little overdramatic. My main complaint is that the directors prioritised deaf representation, and considered a deaf actor very important for a deaf role… but they did not, it seems, consider a trans actor to be as important in a trans role. I was disappointed to see a trans man portrayed by yet another actress, especially considering the filmmaker’s claims of diverse casting... in 2020.
The FTM character is deadnamed twice and misgendered once, but the film overall is not cruel or exploitative. There is a happy (but bittersweet) ending. Depending on your location, you may be able to access Unsound on a number of platforms, as it got quite a bit of attention overseas, especially considering its relatively indie status.
This movie features exercise (lifting weights) while wearing a binder. This is dangerous for many people, and you should be very cautious before attempting this. More info on chest binding here.
Rūrangi does what Unsound fails to: It addresses multiple social issues in one film, and represents multiple minority groups with equal enthusiasm. I liked Unsound, it was fun, but it can't compare to Rūrangi. Particularly because a trans man (Elz Carrad) was cast in the role of a trans man, and there are multiple trans actors who populate the whole film with a realness that Unsound lacks. Beyond that, Māori actors play Māori characters, and average townsfolk are represented by actors who you could easily imagine inhabiting an actual dairy farming community. The film looks, feels, and is authentic. 59% of the cast and crew are non-binary, and Rūrangi was filmed on-location in Auckland and Taranaki. The writer, Cole Meyers, is trans.
Caz, the protagonist, returns to his hometown to reconnect with his father. It's a tough reunion. His father initially resists acknowledging his son, and is bitter about his child's decade-long absence. The film acknowledges the feelings of both father and son, and gives you empathy for both characters. The film tackles transphobia, homophobia, suicide, alcohol misuse, and mental illness, so you should be prepared for that. There is a happy ending!
The Conductor (2018)
Scott Turner Schofield (a trans actor) stars as Robin, a trans man who doesn’t have the language to explain his gender, but lives as a man nonetheless. A really beautiful picture of trans male persistence even without any community resources! And a major motion picture that featured a trans male lead, which broke records.
This film isn’t necessarily about a trans boy, but you can interpret the protagonist that way, because the movie was deliberately made without labels. Tomboy follows an AFAB child who chooses a new name (Mickaël) and goes by he/him in a new hometown. It is relatable for trans men, transmasc non-binary people, butch lesbians, and many kinds of gender non-conforming people. It’s a very beautiful film. There are confronting scenes, but I’d recommend it regardless.
Ultimately, the protagonist is outed against his will, and faces some nasty bullying as a result, as well as aggression from his mother. Under pressure from local kids, Mickaël's girlfriend looks inside his pants to "prove" whether he is male or female. I got through it alright, but you've been warned. The ending, in my opinion, is hopeful rather than a sad ending. We see Mickaël smiling, and we get the impression that he will persevere and eventually flourish.
Romeos follows a young trans man (Lukas) as he discovers his sexuality, and realises that he is attracted to men instead of women. The film doesn't shy away from the many unfortunate realities of transphobia and, in the case of Lukas' gay love interest, internalised homophobia.
I won't deny that the film is confronting. Both young men are wrestling with their identities, Lukas has to fight off an attempted sexual assault, and slurs are thrown around frequently (ableist, homophobic, and transphobic in nature). But viewers are led to appreciate the solidarity of trans male communities, the selflessness of young men who give advice to their brothers via forums, and the struggles of dysphoric trans men. Romeos is one of the few movies out there that grown trans men can relate to, and I will always appreciate that.
There is unsafe binding in this film. Visit this page to learn more.
3 Generations (2015), AKA About Ray (2015)
I personally enjoyed this movie. Despite leaning heavily on trans tropes and emphasising the “struggle” of cis family members in adjusting to a trans boy’s journey, it’s still very relatable. And the actress cast to play the protagonist, for what it’s worth, approached the role with a great deal of respect (and much more respect than the other actors involved). This is an imperfect film, but not that bad if you manage your expectations and prepare for transphobia.
Ray, the protagonist, has to fight off a transphobic bully, but does so successfully. He deals with being misgendered by family members in a similar way to my own experiences. There is a happy ending.
At the time 3 Generations was filmed, there wasn't as much society-wide discussion about trans actors playing trans people. That’s one reason, among a handful, that I dislike 3 Generations far less than I hate movies like A Good Man. Make no mistake, 3 Generations is not perfect… or, arguably, even that good. I’ll call it my guilty pleasure and leave it at that.
There is unsafe binding in this film. Visit this page to learn more.
TWO 4 ONE
Two 4 One (2014)
Despite the tacky film poster, which may lead you to assume the movie is making a mockery of trans men’s ability to carry children, this film is actually pretty good. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite (and the acting leaves something to be desired), but it does explore the dilemma of a middle-aged trans man accidentally falling pregnant and having to face the dysphoric choices therein. That’s a first, for a casual comedy!
I feel the same way about Two 4 One that many cishet people (I have heard) feel about crappy romcom flicks. Don't expect anything super amazing, but it's fun.
BOYS DON'T CRY
Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Though I related to this movie immensely, I would not advise that anybody watch it. Especially not trans men. But I've included it in this list because it was is historically important, and I'd rather address it openly than allow trans men to be traumatised by certain scenes it contains.
Boys Don't Cry is an unflinching, unforgiving, factually incorrect, whitewashed, graphic depiction of a crime committed against a member of the trans male community. In 1999, it was revolutionary. Nowadays, I would encourage trans men to connect with our history, to deeply research what our people have been through, but the extreme nature of this movie will do nothing more than terrify you. However, I related to this fictional depiction of Brandon Teena on a very deep level. I have rewatched the film's early scenes (before the violence) and enjoyed them.
There is unsafe binding in this film. Visit this page to learn more.
52 Tuesdays (2013)
This indie film follows a bisexual teenager as she adjusts to her "mother" coming out as a trans man, and also explores her own identity. It's quite a confronting film, because it very accurately captures Australian bigotry and transphobia, hurtful comments frequently employed as a way to delegitimise James' transition.
Billie, James' daughter, is a precocious, stubborn young woman. She's not meant to be likeable, and while I developed an amount of sympathy for her as a character, I did feel that her hostility distracted from the movie's main plot of acceptance and love. Overall, the film's quality is not spectacular, but you may relate to several scenes that involve the trans main character.
Again- there is unsafe binding in this film. (Are you sensing a theme?) Visit this page to learn more.
MY FRIEND FROM FARO
My Friend From Faro (2008), Mein Freund aus Faro (2008)
The protagonist of this film, after meeting a girl, spontaneously decides to go by a male name and he/him/his, and from that point onwards works very hard to live a double life. I believe the character is a butch lesbian, but could also be another kind of transmasculine person, or even a trans guy. Regardless, the film is likely relatable for all of those demographics.
There is an arguably happy ending, as it's implied that the protagonist leaves to live their happiest, most masculine life, but not everyone will enjoy this film. I quite liked it. Towards the end of the movie, Mel/Miguel is pursued by bullies who threaten to undress them to discern their sex, but they fight back and escape. Beyond that, you should prepare for instances of homophobia, and an accidental age gap.
Pierrot Lunaire (2014)
This disaster of a production is a mockery of trans male experiences, bodies, and surgeries. It includes mutilation, murder, misgendering, and pathetic depictions of transmasculinity. Don't watch it. It's a waste of your time. The director knows nothing about transmasculinity, except how to portray a cheap (and violent) caricature of it. If he didn't intend to make trans viewers feel alienated and dehumanised by his film, he ought to have avoided making transmasculine people seem like deranged, sexually perverse madwomen.
A GOOD MAN
A Good Man (2020)
I did not like this film, for many reasons beyond the fact that an actress was cast to play the trans male lead. The trans man, at one stage, gives a self-flagellating speech about how he "deceived" his friend by living as a man and not coming out as trans earlier. Absolute bullshit. A man living as a man is not deceiving anybody. No self-respecting trans man, who has been stealth for years, should demean himself like that.
At another stage, as the trans man lies unconscious in a hospital bed (after fleeing a gay bashing), his transphobic mother is afforded a long, uninterrupted scene where she stands wistfully at a window. She misgenders her son and laments the fact that he has always been difficult, not like the oh-so-perfect daughter she wished to have. The trans man's partner, who is in the room, doesn't stick up for him.
At the end, the trans man is left to give birth on his own (his girlfriend fucks off), except that his transphobic mother magically starts giving a shit, and he's magically comfortable with her seeing him give birth. No accountability needed. I'm not saying all trans men will hate this film, but I didn't like it.
Girls Lost (2015)
Three friends, one of them a closeted trans boy, discover a magical plant that allows them to switch into different bodies. The two girls seem attracted to the magic because it allows them freedom from misogyny and social pressures. Kim (the third protagonist) expresses a desire to change his body from the beginning of the film, and this desire is affirmed when he gains a penis and a flat chest.
In a body that is socially received as male, Kim explores a gay romance between himself and a cis boy. At one point, Kim is asked "are you in love with him, or do you just want to be like him?" That is a struggle that many gay trans men face.
If you do want to watch this movie, you need to prepare for misogyny, lesbophobia, gay bashing, attempted rape, and extreme gender dysphoria in response to menstruation. The f-slur is also used by a character struggling with internalised homophobia. I thought this would be a sweet, fantastical coming-of-age movie with trans plotlines, so I was pretty surprised when such heavy themes were introduced. Ultimately, it's implied that Kim is going to commit suicide using a gun, following a previous discussion of firearm suicide.
WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP
We Forgot to Break Up (2017)
I began watching this short film with expectations of something nice or enjoyable, and I was really shocked by how awful and anxiety-inducing it was. A trans man named Evan (played by trans actor Jesse Todd) reconnects with his past bandmates to announce that he's written a book about his time performing with them. The casting of a trans man in a trans role doesn't really make up for how crap this was to watch. There isn't even a happy ending. You get some horrendous bigotry chucked at you and then, boom, it's over.
There was one particular moment I really didn't appreciate (amongst the misgendering and unapologetic transphobia), when a cis woman touched the trans man's chest and asked "is this real?" referencing his post-surgery body. I'm not a fan of women touching men's chests without consent and prior discussion, especially because the reversed gender dynamics are immediately recognised as sexual harassment/assault. Women getting away with that kind of uninvited physical contact, no questions asked, is something that pisses me off. There's a reason that men are held accountable for even briefly touching a woman's chest without consent. Women need to be held to the same standard.
Princess Cyd (2017)
I really, really enjoyed this film. The protagonist is an initially headstrong, arrogant young woman who is beginning to explore her sexuality, and also growing up as a person. Her aunt could possibly be asexual, though that’s a personal interpretation rather than a definitive fact. The main love interest of Cyd is a gender non-conforming person named Katie, played by non-binary actor Malic White; the director has mentioned that the character would have come out as non-binary after the conclusion of the film, and a small scene commenting on the character’s gender identity is a nice subtle way of indicating this. The film tackles themes around suicide, harassment, violence, and self-harm, but it’s still really enjoyable. And there’s a happy ending! I would say that Katie is relatable for butch lesbians and many transmasculine people overall.
Strange Circus (2005)
For all my criticism of cis-centric films and actresses playing trans men, no films or shows discussed thus far can compare to Strange Circus in terms of horrendously misrepresenting trans men. It's an understatement to say that I would not recommend watching this movie. I won't go into detail about the plot of this movie but, suffice to say, it portrays probably every upsetting thing you can imagine. Gore? Yep. Child abuse? Yep. Incestuous abuse? Yep. Torture? Yep. Suicidal themes? Yep. Transitioning portrayed as a reaction to trauma, and not an authentic identity? Yep. Gender-affirming surgeries portrayed as self-mutilation? Yep.
This definitely isn't a film for trans men. Unless, I suppose, you're a trans man who is deeply embedded in Japanese guro/horror culture, and you wouldn't be horrified by what Strange Circus offers. My personal opinion is that this movie is grotesque and awful. But that's the aim.
The trans director of Adam tried to cram as many young trans actors into this film as he could, and while I appreciate that effort, the diversity of the cast doesn’t compensate for the central premise. In short; a cis guy pretends to be a trans man in order to date a lesbian. The whole time you’re watching this movie, you’re sitting there thinking, what the fuck? Why would anyone lie about that? It’s so baffling and gross that you’re not compelled to watch this trainwreck of a situation culminate in a breakup and inevitable backlash. The whole movie is painfully awkward. Leo Sheng's performance was great, though. Crap or not, I'm glad this movie propelled Sheng forward in his career.
Another thing I really, really hated, was the unapologetic use of slurs. Main characters cheerfully call a young trans man a “little faggot” behind his back, and an aggressively sexual chaser uses the word “tranny”. I did not like this film. If people I barely knew, and some that I hadn't even been introduced to, were calling me a faggot, I'd be extremely angry.
I sympathise with Ernst (the director) in that he did his best to make this more about trans people than cis people, and I applaud his casting choices, but I still didn’t enjoy the film.
Predestination is a mind-bending science fiction thriller that features an intersex individual who transitions from female to male. Pre-transition, the character John/Jane mentions feeling trapped in the wrong body, not understanding sex, being confused by female gender roles, and not fitting in with girls. After falling pregnant, he undergoes surgery and socially transitions (for reasons that are dubious but do somewhat make sense in the context of the film).
The trans aspect of this film is less about representation than it is science fiction. The character’s intersex traits are central to the film’s plot, for reasons I can’t describe without ruining the entire storyline. The character’s transition is so surreal that it doesn’t trigger any dysphoria for me personally.
Some commentary on forced intersex surgeries could possibly be gleaned, but that’s not really what this film is about. If you go into this viewing experience expecting "representation", you might be disappointed. And if you're intersex, particularly an intersex person who has undergone unwanted medical treatments, you likely won't enjoy this film. Prepare for a homophobic slur and misogyny, too.
Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
Cremisius Aclassi, also known as Krem, is a trans man whose inclusion in this game I really appreciated. He discusses packing with socks, affirming himself through a masculine presentation, and his history of struggle. The in-game Qunari culture has a concept called "Aqun-Athlok", which translates to "born as one gender but living like another", and this is a concept that Krem identifies with. His friend, named the Iron Bull, insists that Krem is a "real man", and defends Krem's manhood during dialogue if the player chooses to ask questions. Krem was the first transgender character to appear in a BioWare game, and in my opinion, the outcome is awesome. Especially since the player can ask questions in this fictional context and be met with the insistence that Krem is a real man, which may cause them to hesitate before asking similar questions in real life. Krem is consistently characterised as a guy, and I reckon that's really valuable.
TELL ME WHY
Tell Me Why (2020)
I've not played this game myself, but it features a trans male character voiced by a trans man (August Aiden Black). This character is the first playable transgender video game hero, from a major studio and publisher. By all accounts, the game handles his transition and gender very well, and his voice actor made contributions in the development of his storyline and personality. Apparently he faces some offensive reactions to his gender identity when he returns to his hometown, but I can find no other reports of transphobia that potential players should prepare for.
LAST OF US
The Last of Us Part 2 (2020)
Trans male character voiced by trans actor (Ian Alexander). Not yet reviewed.