Documentaries, Shows, Films, and Games.
Invisibility of trans men is perpetuated by documentaries like Disclosure (2020), which erased or glossed over many of the FTM documentaries, shows, and films that deserved recognition and critique. This site is an effort to collate media which often goes unmentioned, resulting in generations of isolation among trans guys.
Disclosure also failed to criticise a cornerstone of harmful FTM representation; unsafe chest binding. This site aims to fill that gap, and record instances where media sets a dangerous example for viewers.
The primary goal of this site is to review trans male media, and promote the visibility of trans men. However, this site also features transmasculine and AFAB non-binary media.
These reviews are my own opinions only (I am an adult trans man). I have included warnings related to violence, assault, misgendering, and other content that I consider important to forewarn. If you want to avoid spoilers, you can just read the titles. Several reviews mention LGBT+ slurs, as they are common in gender-diverse media. There are also images which could be dysphoria-inducing. If you have concerns about specific themes, I recommend doing your own research into media before you engage with it.
Some modern butches identify as transmasculine (as seen in this thread and this video) so a few reviews have been written with those transmasc butches in mind. Again, though, this site is primarily dedicated to trans men.
Beyond feature-length documentaries, this section also includes documentary shorts, interviews, and experimental non-fiction films which promote the voices and experiences of real trans men. Media is sorted by year of release.
Peter Alexander Interview (1937)
Peter Alexander, interviewed in Sydney, speaks of his transition 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, folks- trans men have always existed, and we deserve to be included in trans histories!
This is an interview with a female-to-male transsexual named Henry S. Rubin, who identifies himself as previously being a “dyke” and describes the complexity of evolving identities. He says, “It’s very difficult to walk around in a world that perceives that there are only two genders and two sexes.” He speaks about the diversity of women, about the disconnect between his body and his gender, and the narrow expectations placed upon men. He also addresses the perception that he is a “traitor to the cause”, referencing feminism, insisting that “all men aren’t the enemy”. He talks about the neglect of female-to-male transsexuals, specifically regarding surgical alteration of FTM genitalia, echoing frustrations discussed in documentaries like Southern Comfort.
You Don't Know Dick (1997)
You Don’t Know Dick: The Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men is a wonderful documentary. It stars American trailblazers Jamison Green, Max Wolf Valerio, and Loren Cameron, who have been frequently erased as trans pioneers. I would highly recommend watching it. It features interviews where trans men discuss 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. Most are white. The documentary features discussions with family members of the trans men, most of whom are supportive.
This short film was made in the late 90s, by a trans man named Jay Allen Sennett who was dealing with "confusion and pain" related to his transition and his body. In Phallocy, Jay discusses deciding to transition at the age of 32, and the complex feelings he has about being a man with deep links to a female past. He says, "I ask myself, how does a thirty five year-old man who played as a tomboy, bled like a girl, reared as a lady, fucked like a stone butch lesbian, and dresses like a dandy, become a man? How do I act for this part? Which parts of me should I keep? Throw away?" He goes on to describe having sex with a woman, referring to his prosthetic penises as "tools of the patriarchy", recalling how he cried because he would never be able to ejaculate. Reflecting upon this short film later in life, on his website (linked below), Jay comments, "Listening to it now, the person I was then is not who I am now. As I’ve said before, learning to love myself as I am is my life’s work. Doing that work day after day has moved me from Phallocy to Truth, which is that I love my transsexual body very much, as it is. Phallocy represents a period in my life I will never forget, and one I’m glad to have moved through."
Southern Comfort (2001)
Robert Eads was an American, white transsexual man who died of ovarian cancer, after being denied cancer treatment 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. Relationships, sex, transitioning, parenthood, and family are all explored. The DVD has an extra interview where Eads clarifies that he wasn't allowed to attend a trans medical centre because he was a trans man. Specifically, his male appearance would "embarrass" the trans women in attendance. Despite the fact that he had cancer and desperately needed care, he was not welcome because trans men were considered too rare and unsightly to warrant inclusion. This example of FTM-specific discrimination is usually left out when people discuss Eads' death. A note regarding the interviewees' views on bottom surgery: options have improved a great deal since Southern Comfort was filmed, and many trans men have undergone satisfactory operations.
Enough Man (2005)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "Documentary meets explicit sexuality in Luke Woodward's groundbreaking debut video about body image, relationships, sex and sexuality from the perspective of nine female-to-male (FTM) transmen and their partners. Featuring health educators, college students, sex workers, activists and artists, Enough Man navigates the terrain between objectivity and personal identity, allowing viewers into some of the most personal and rarely discussed areas of transgender life."
NOT YET WATCHED. Years before Thomas Beatie attracted widespread media attention as "the pregnant man", FTM filmmaker Jules Rosskam released a documentary dedicated to the experiences of trans men who chose to carry children. The trailer, which you can watch via the link below, opens with a trans man saying "I'll always be part female-bodied, and I'll always be their mom", followed by other trans men talking about their experiences, some instead expressing a preference to be known as a dad, one man saying that he enjoys being part female and part male, part mom and part dad. Andrew, a trans man with a beard and long dark hair, talks about how he reassured his children once he began his transition. Other men have a range of different parenthood journeys, from leaving their children entirely to raising them all throughout their schooling. I am really, really looking forward to watching this one.
Boy I Am (2006)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "While female-to-male transgender visibility has recently exploded in this country, conversations about trans issues in the lesbian community often run into resistance from the many queer women who view transitioning as a “trend” or as an anti-feminist act that taps into male privilege. Boy I Am is a feature-length documentary that begins to break down that barrier and promote dialogue about trans issues through a look at the experiences of three young transitioning FTMs in New York City–Nicco, Norie and Keegan–as they go through major junctures in their transitions, as well as through the voices of lesbians, activists and theorists who raise and address the questions that many people have but few openly discuss."
Sexing the Transman (2011)
In this documentary, trans men of many different backgrounds are interviewed, including mixed-race men, black men, gay men, straight men, etc. The main topic of conversation is sex, including how interviewees' orientations have evolved alongside their bodies. It is absolutely an explicit documentary, and uncensored footage of trans men having sex is shown. So, obviously, it's for adults only. This is a Buck Angel production. Though this documentary preceded his extremely combatative and aggressive views, Angel still labels the term "cisgender" as being somehow "politically correct" (whatever that means), and confronts an FTM interviewee about the use of such language, which I found uncomfortable and quite ridiculous. This documentary is definitely outdated, too, when it comes to discussions of bottom surgery and how functional genitals are after such procedures. As a female-to-male transsexual myself, who is very intimidated by Buck Angel and the way he engages with others, I absolutely understand why many people wouldn't want to watch this documentary. He's said many things that I do not agree with, especially recently. His rhetoric gets more and more alarmist with every passing day and I do not feel comfortable supporting him. That's a personal choice everyone gets to make, based on his modern-day comments. Sexing the Transman, whatever its faults, is nowhere near as hostile as Angel's more recent Twitter/Youtube activities. There were some awesome interviews in Sexing the Transman that are really revolutionary, especially for 2011. Notably awesome, for me personally, were interviews with two trans men (Sean and Dan) in an ethically non-monogamous relationship. It was really cool to witness the pair's sexual energy and romance, and to see a t4t relationship that included a plus-size bear and a bloke who was non/pre-top surgery. Overall, the production quality is not great, and the editing is very poor. But I can see how this may have transformed the lives of trans men who watched it in 2011. Nowadays, if you would like to access inclusive, high-quality, trans-positive adult films with racially diverse performers, I'd rather recommend Crash Pad Series episodes instead. That'd probably be a better use of your money. I've included a link to their site below... while affirming, groundbreaking, and amazing, it is an adults-only space! You need to be 18 or older to watch Crash Pad Series episodes. They recommend www.scarleteen.com for young people seeking sex education.
REVIEW PENDING. I have a lot of complicated feelings about certain interviews and scenes in this film. Warnings aplenty. There are some great interviews with Masen Davis and Jamison Green, two FTM pioneers, and I liked excerpts of a speech that Zander Keig gave as part of his Phalloplasty educational talk. I wish we knew more about Yavante Thomas-Guess, a trans man of colour who is interviewed too.
From Daddy's Tummy (2015)
This is an amazing documentary about a white 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.
Then and Now (2015)
This is a heartbreaking and lovely look into the lives of two older white trans men, named Dale and Andrew. Dale describes coming out in the late 60s and 70s, and then being confined to a corrective institute by his parents. He was there until he was eighteen, interspersed with periods of homelessness. At the institute, he was forced to wear dresses and would be inspected to ensure he wasn’t wearing shorts below the dresses. If he was found to be wearing shorts, they would be forcibly removed. He was given estrogen to ‘fix’ his FTM identity, while trans girls were given testosterone to 'fix' their MTF identity. Dale also discusses trans male invisibility. When he was trying to transition, the local medical opinion was that the so-called “gender-dysphoria gene" was on the Y chromosome and, according to him, “we spent a lot of time in the eighties waiting for that to change” so that trans men could even be believed to exist. In the modern day, he talks about being refused medical care and being abused in medical settings. Andrew describes being deprived of food by medical staff in 2014, on the basis of his gender identity. These men’s experiences are an important, crucial reminder that trans men are vulnerable to abuse and discrimination– especially as we get older, another topic discussed by Dale and Andrew, relating to receiving aged care. Andrew, a younger man, insists to Dale that he won’t allow Dale to be put into an aged-care home.
Kylar W. Broadus Interview (2016)
NOT YET WATCHED. The bio accompanying this interview begins thusly: "Kylar William Broadus was born on August 28, 1963 in Fayette, Missouri... Early on, Kylar experienced gender dysphoria. While his mother sought to protect her daughter by encouraging feminine mannerisms and dress, Kylar’s dad seemed to intuitively grasp that Kylar was, on some deep level, a boy... In the mid-1990s, after informing his employer about his gender transition, Kylar’s work environment became increasingly unwelcoming and unsupportive. After being forced to resign, and having realized it was (and still is) completely legal in Missouri for his company to discriminate based on gender, Kylar began a long, committed journey to use the court system for his own protection and on behalf of other trans people. He helped develop federal, state and local protections for people regardless of their gender identity or gender expression. His many scholarly articles on transgender advocacy in family and employment law have fundamentally shaped academic and legal discussions of gender. In 2010, Kylar founded the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) to fill a gap in the private and non-profit sectors. And in 2012, Kylar became the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)."
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! And I liked that the documentary concluded with praise and adoration of masculinity. That's shockingly rare in LGBT+ discourse, lately. It was nice to watch something which reminded me that being masculine is wonderful.
Coby is about trans manhood, and features extensive interviews with a now-deceased white trans man (Jacob), 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. His mother's transphobia was difficult to watch, but very realistic to what many of us face from our own mothers. My hope would be that transphobic mothers might pause before rejecting or attacking their own trans sons, if they see the impact Jacob's mother had on him. Christian Sonderegger, Jacob's brother, directed this documentary, and would later co-write the film A Good Man (2020), with characters based on Jacob's own transition and journey. Having watched A Good Man and absolutely hated it, that does cast this documentary in a slightly odd light, but it's still good in isolation. Especially considering the fact that Jacob has since passed away. It's a gift that we get to see his life in such detail.
Twiz & Tuck (2017)
This bonkers series is six episodes long. It follows best friends Twiz and Tuck as they embark on a chaotic, unpredictable 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. They are both white. 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 episodes include some heartbreaking moments, particularly when Twiz discusses his father's transphobia and hostility.
This is a good documentary, and I say that as someone who has deeply negative relationship with the army. TransMilitary captures a key moment in history, and a struggle to defend the professional and personal worth of trans people who are discriminated against for no justifiable reason. If you believe in the mission of the military, you will likely be more moved by this documentary than I was, but even I was emotionally affected by the interviewees' struggles and victories. I am very glad this documentary exists, and I recognise its value. Beyond the reasons I struggled to watch this documentary, there are scenes which are undeniably beautiful. A trans man's deeply faithful mother describes seeking out a religious leader within her community and begging for guidance, and being told to love and cherish her son by that same religious leader. A trans woman's colleague defends her and recognises her plight. Senior officials take trans people's struggles seriously. Allies appear where they aren't expected. Cis friends passionately reject the oft-repeated cynicism about trans genitals, declaring that they don't need to see a woman's vagina to know that she's "really" a woman. A trans woman's wife tells the story of their relationship, and how they stayed together. Whether the military is good or not... that's an entirely different matter, I suppose.
Across, Beyond, and Over (2019)
In this documentary, Brit Fryer (a trans man of colour) reconnects with his ex (a white trans man) and creates an art project where they relive their earliest meetings and explore old conversations. It's a very unique and different approach, where the making of the documentary and the artistic process is part of the film itself. It's really fascinating and gorgeous to listen to these men telling stories of how their relationship ended, both men having conflicting memories of certain events, hugging each other tightly in response to a rekindled emotional connection. It's so humanising and real.
Krow's TRANSformation (2019)
This one is sweet, genuine, and lovely. Krow Kian, a white male model, documents his journey and his modelling career pre-transition and post-transition. His friends are also interviewed, and they share their own stories. Suicide, self-harm, dysphoria, and other struggles are addressed, but through the lens of a happy ending. Family members interviewed are supportive, and viewers get to see progress beyond early-transition turbulence. I'd definitely recommend this documentary to early-transition men, and to their families. Many steps are shown. Coming out, starting Testosterone, having a mastectomy, having a uterectomy, getting married, etc. I really liked an interview Krow's mother gave, referencing an emotional moment that she had while her son was having surgery. She says, "I sat down, poured myself a drink, and said goodbye to my daughter. Then I poured myself another drink, and said hello to my son." I liked that the mother's grief didn't affect her support for Krow, and that she outwardly advocated for him and supported his decisions, while also nursing her own complex feelings. The concept of grieving your child while they're still alive is a tricky one, because it's so often used as a weapon against trans people, to prevent us from transitioning and make us feel guilty for identities we can't control. That isn't what happens in this documentary. What Krow's mother shows, in a moment of profound maturity, is that it's possible to support and love your child while also commemorating who they used to be. She shows that a sense of loss doesn't mean you've actually lost your child, and you can still be there for them. I liked that this film made space for that nuance, all the while showing Krow being loved, supported, and defended by his mother.
I highly, highly recommend watching this film. With a runtime of less than 20 minutes, it has more worth and emotional weight than many feature documentaries. However, there are some serious trigger warnings to be aware of. The documentary opens with Logan’s morning routine, which involves someone assisting him so that he can wear a binder. We are then shown footage of Logan as a child, pre-transition, while he explains that he was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, meaning he's more comfortable and mobile in a wheelchair. He goes on to talk about his gender journey, including realising that he wanted to transition at seventeen years of age. He chats with a hairdresser about being excited to start testosterone, smiling happily as he describes the positive experience of being called a young man. We meet Logan's mother, who goes through childhood pictures with Logan and talks with him about his choice to medically transition. Though she has some concerns and worries about him using testosterone, she says that she supports him and trusts him to make the right choices. Logan discusses how his relationship with his mother has become strained, due to his rejection of femininity and stereotypical mother-daughter bonding activities. One of my favourite parts of this delightful, beautiful, amazing documentary is hearing Logan talk about bonding with his father, and listening to Logan's father talk about his son. Despite never meeting any other trans people prior to his son coming out, he completely supports him. He tears up, beginning to cry as he praises Logan's patience and guidance. Logan, sitting nearby, starts crying as well. Logan discusses being physically and sexually abused by his teacher, when he was only fourteen years of age. He emphasises that he is not trans because of his trauma, and this is echoed by Logan's father, who says, "His coming out as trans is just one facet of who Logan is. Logan is a visible minority, he is a person with a physical disability, he is a person with learning disabilities, he is a survivor." I am so thankful that Logan shared his story, and that cis filmmaker Navid Mashayekhi made this short documentary possible.
Our Baby (2020)
Our Baby: A Modern Miracle (2020) follows Jake and Hannah Graf, a trans man and trans woman in a self-described heterosexual marriage. Both of them are white and English. They conceive a child with the help of a surrogate, all the while dealing with lockdowns and the pressure of publicity. Overall, this is a good documentary, but not quite what I expected. I was disappointed by some of Jake Graf’s comments. While discussing pregnancy and surrogacy, he says, "there's nothing men can do that's similar [to] carrying someone's baby for nine months", aside from "wanking into a cup", referencing the donation of sperm. In saying this, he completely disregarded and erased the trans men who do, in fact, choose to become pregnant. I found these cisnormative comments quite bizarre, especially considering the fact that Jake's own frozen reproductive material was used in the surrogacy process, and surely his long career as an activist has educated him about FTM experiences different to his own. Just because he found pregnancy utterly incompatible with his maleness doesn't mean all trans men feel similarly. As he was in conversation with a cis woman when he made such cisnormative comments, I did wonder whether he'd have said such a thing when exclusively in the company of trans people. Either way, I found it disappointing. But maybe I'm misinterpreting without conversational context, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. This isn't the most moving documentary I've ever watched, but it was good. Many aspects of Jake and Hannah's relationship, and their separate lives, are discussed. Jake's struggles with alcohol addiction, family dysfunction, and gender dysphoria are explored. Hannah's father is interviewed, tearing up as he describes being proud of his trans daughter. Jake and Hannah, while filming the documentary and waiting for their surrogate to give birth, go public with their journey and do a news interview. Following this, transphobic social media comments are read out by Hannah, so you should prepare for that. I feel that there should've been more footage of the surrogate herself, and the pregnancy actually occurring. I got the sense, just from watching, that the film crew had been prevented from getting all of the pregnancy-related content they'd desired, due to COVID restrictions. I really wanted to hear the surrogate's feelings about carrying a baby for a trans man and a trans woman, and to get a deeper look at the process of birth. But, much like the Graf couple themselves, viewers are locked out of that process by the pandemic. Even if the birth was never going to be captured on camera (I can definitely understand if the surrogate felt some reluctance in that department), I think the baby could've been more of a focus. This documentary may be more fulfilling for trans women than trans men, as Hannah's anxieties about motherhood are explored more than Jake's feelings. But, even then, we don't get to see how Hannah fares in the raising of her daughter, and whether these anxieties go away. This feels like an unfinished film, if that makes sense.
Jude Patton Interview (2021)
NOT YET WATCHED. The bio accompanying this interview begins thusly: "Jude Patton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, assigned female at birth, and adopted at seven months old. Perhaps because his parents had experienced difficulty having children, they always treated Jude and his brother “like gold,” which in Jude’s case meant defending him as a teen when he cut his hair short and wore masculine clothing... Although Jude was a star student and a natural at sports, one high school PE teacher gave him an “F” because he refused to shower at school in the gendered bathrooms. Jude complained to the State Superintendent of Schools, which led to an investigation of his school; in retaliation, the school used the investigation to harass Jude further. This early experience of both transphobia and activism would herald things to come... He got gender-affirming surgery at Stanford University in 1972, one of the first trans men to do so. Almost immediately afterwards, he resumed the education he’d put on hold, becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychiatric Physician’s Assistant, and a certified Sex Educator and Sex Therapist."
The Whistle (2021)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: “A 45 year old Xicane trans man returns to his hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico in search of the origin of a secret code he learned when he identified as a young dyke in the 1980s. The Whistle tells the story of a secret code created by and shared among young lesbians in 1970s & 80s Albuquerque, New Mexico as a means of self-identification and finding community.” The trailer, viewable via the link below, looks very sweet!
Yoseñio Lewis Interview (2021)
NOT YET WATCHED. Before I include the bio which accompanies this interview, you should know that it describes pregnancy, stillbirth, and incestuous child sexual abuse. Being a survivor is a large part of Lewis' story, as is his faith, advocacy, and experiences with cancer. The bio begins thusly: "Yoseñio Lewis was born in October 1959 in Newport, Rhode Island. A transgender man and Latino of African descent, he is also a trans rights activist, educator and musician. From the age of five, Yoseñio was sexually abused by five relatives, resulting in him becoming pregnant at age 13. He only found out about the pregnancy when he started haemorrhaging blood in his school’s Science class. Sadly, his daughter was delivered stillborn. This traumatic event had a profound impact on Yoseñio and he continues to commemorate his daughter to this day... It wasn’t until he was 33 that Yoseñio came out as FTM after a friend told him, “You’re trans.” Yoseñio denied it at the time but eventually realized that his friend was correct after attending support meetings and reading the FTM Newsletter. He was so overjoyed about finally having language for his experience that he told everyone, including strangers on the bus. Amidst the trauma he has faced in his life, Yoseñio remains a powerful voice for transgender rights. He has been recognized for his activism and contributions to the community, including being one of the inaugural members of the Trans 100 List."
Jamison Green, Jaden Fields (2022)
This is a wonderful, relaxed conversation between 73 year-old FTM pioneer Jamison Green and 31 year-old Jaden Fields. I adore this video. I could watch it over and over again. I wish it was longer! I get the sense that a lot of conversation was cut to make the video shorter and more digestible, which I think is a genuine shame. This is a precious piece of FTM history. Jamison Green, a White bisexual trans man, speaks of his experience as an older man and the transition from a largely stealth FTM community to a more open community, and the complicated feelings that accompany such a change. Jaden Fields, identified as a trans man and a Black femme transboi on various social media profiles, talks about discovering his community and overcoming trauma.
This is Not Me (2022)
NOT YET WATCHED. I am really, really eager to view this documentary, but I can’t find it anywhere. If you have any information on that front, and especially if you know of any links to the full film, please get in contact! The synopsis is as follows: "Iran is the only country in the region to recognise trans people (any other LGBQ+ identity is banned). Both Shervin and Saman offer a glimpse into what life is like for trans youth, who despite loving and supportive parents are forced to live covert lives, shy away from their neighbours and even consider emigration, in order to be who they truly are. One of the many heartrending scenes in this documentary features one of the boys, fully clothed on the beach and yearning to go swimming, while the other shouts at his parents, asking whether his father is also forced to wear a headscarf. This is Not Me is a detailed depiction of the legal and social labyrinth that promises a slim aperture of freedom." Saeed Gholipour, the director, said the following about this documentary: "What drew me to this issue was the community's ignorance of the transgender community. Many trans people in Iran have fallen victim to traditional thinking and have been murdered or expelled from society... The lack of culture about trans people encouraged me to make a film about their lives, and after three years of filming the lives of Saman and Sherwin, I portrayed the process of their lives."
I Am Kai (2023)
Kai Clancy, the subject of this documentary short, has long been an advocate for First Nations gender-diverse people. For those of us who have seen his videos in the past, when he was much younger, it is wonderful to witness him as his bearded, older self. This short film opens with the words of Kai’s father. He says, “Kai is a strong First Nation warrior. Wakka Wakka, Wulli Wulli.” He goes on to say, “Amongst our tribe, the wedge-tailed eagle is one of our totems. It means guardian and keeper of the law, for family and language. And Kai does that well. He is a great warrior.” It was so beautiful to hear Kai’s father speaking those words, and to watch as he ceremonially painted Kai. Kai speaks about his relationship with his culture, how his gender is received by his community, his marriage and relationship, and his transition. All in all, a very sweet and sensitive portrayal that I wish was longer!
Sullivan Interviews (1988-90)
Lou Sullivan was a white, American, transsexual man who was both an FTM pioneer and a gay activist. In these interviews, Sullivan discusses transitioning and fighting for the rights of gay trans people, which was a controversial concept in an age when all trans individuals were expected to be heterosexual. He also discusses his childhood, transition, and all aspects of his private life. 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 this resource! These interviews are groundbreaking. 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. Many people have spoken up to credit Lou Sullivan's accomplishments, including FTM activist Max Wolf Valerio, who said, "Lou was a writer and capable of standing up for what he saw as truth. He was a gay transsexual man, before this was even allowed or recognized. He is also the person who helped to change that, and now—being gay is no longer an issue if you want to begin transition." A very America/Western-centric statement, certainly, but Sullivan's impact should be recognised regardless.
Shinjuku Boys (1995)
This documentary follows three Japanese people, one of them a medically-transitioning trans man, as they work in an LGBT bar. Gender identity, sexuality, and complicated relationships to gender roles are discussed in honest, unflinching interviews. All three interviewees identify as onabe (alternatively spelled onnabe), which is a diverse term for trans men and "women who live as men", including people who might be known in western discourse as non-binary individuals or butch lesbians. Shinjuku Boys is a wonderful film that, while sad at many points, is an enriching insight into a unique trans culture. I highly recommend it. This is a part of FTM history that should be more widely appreciated. Shinjuku Boys presents a beautifully complex portrait of the participants' gender– a complexity that is lacking in many Western documentaries. Kumi, a trans woman and drag queen who goes by she/her, is a partner of Kazuki, one of the onabe-identifying guys who are central to the film. She explains their relationship by saying, “He’s a woman who likes women, I’m a man who likes men, so we understand each other.” A simplistic, Western interpretation might view such a statement as ‘misgendering’, but that would do a disservice to the unique glimpse into Japanese gender variance we’re afforded by this wonderful documentary. Gaish, one of the main interviewees, describes feeling trapped by his cultural reality, saying that an ex-girlfriend of his would’ve been “an outcast” if she’d committed to living her life alongside him. “It was better for her to marry and lead a normal life,” he says, “rather than be with me. That’s what I thought. So we split up.” He goes on to explain that this experience has permanently impacted him; “By law, I’m alone. If I think about that, where’s the fun in living? If I think about it, I wish I’d never been born.” The whole documentary isn’t as heartbreaking as that scene, with Tatsu (a hormonally-transitioning man) describing a much happier romantic situation, but it’s important to acknowledge the intimacy and vulnerability we’re afforded in the more sobering moments of Shinjuku Boys. The worth of this documentary cannot be overstated. Tatsu describes being happy in his body, and the first time he was ever naked with a woman. His partner describes being pressured by her family to seek out a male partner who can give her a baby, but says that she loves Tatsu and doesn't wish to be with anyone else. It's a beautiful conversation, especially considering the year in which it was filmed. WARNING: Includes the use of unsafe chest binders.
One thing that deeply disappointed me about Gendernauts: A Journey Through Shifting Identities was a discussion about Brandon Teena, wherein a gender-variant person claimed that they couldn't know how Brandon Teena identified, because he was dead and therefore couldn't be asked. This betrayed a willing ignorance of Brandon's identity, and a determination to ignore his own words. In The Brandon Teena Story (a deeply-distressing documentary released one year before Gendernauts), several interviewees insisted that Brandon identified and lived as a man, and wished only to be known as a male. One of Brandon’s ex-girlfriends, when interviewed, said, “he just wanted everybody to know him as always having being a man”. Another of his ex-girlfriends described him rejecting the idea that his relationships were lesbian, insisting instead that they were straight, because he was a man. Brandon, according to testimonies, would say that he had begun sex change surgeries, to make people believe in the legitimacy of his male identity. Therefore, I was disappointed that a gender-variant person in Gendernauts made an art project speculating about Brandon’s gender, and treating Brandon as a fictional character. It felt invasive, much in the same way that cis people refused to take Brandon’s maleness at face value. The motive seemed to be to use Brandon, in death, as a platform to project the artist’s own non-binary experience, rather than respecting Brandon's binary maleness. That said, I do somewhat recognise the value in Gendernauts. I enjoyed interviews with trans men, ally doctors, and an intersex non-binary person who was particularly articulate and expressive. One of the interviewees I was most impressed by was a woman of colour, named Chrystal Weston, who worked for the DA’s Office as an advocate for LGBT people. I really liked that her education about transgender people included, in her words, transsexuals, transvestites, and both pre-op and post-op individuals. A very progressive understanding for the time. This documentary definitely gave me mixed feelings. I didn’t like that a trans female interviewee compared all trans people to cyborgs, as part of the “genderfuckery” theme underlying the whole film. I found it dehumanusing and invalidating of my own binary male identity. Plus, one of the interviewees (a cis woman) shamelessly misgendered a trans man. Her key reason for doing so was that he still had a vagina. Overall, this film is not for binary trans men. The disrespect shown to Brandon Teena is enough to make that clear. I found many of the non-binary interviewees genuinely interesting, but that interest wasn't enough to compensate for the way my own identity was treated.
Just Call Me Kade (2001)
In this documentary, the family of Kade (a white trans boy) is extensively intervewied, as is Kade himself. Kade's mother and grandmother refer to Kade with she/her pronouns and also by his deadname, but have very different perspectives on the legitimacy of his identity. Kade's grandmother is very concerned and distressed by her grandson's journey, whereas Kade's mother is very supportive despite using the incorrect name and pronouns (a contradition attributable to the family's broader social context). Kade's father, on the other hand, consistently uses the correct name and pronouns. While outdated in some respects, this is still a very sweet short documentary, and a precious glimpse into a snippet of FTM history. Kade's mother describes connecting with trans support groups, and having her worldview reframed by the generosity of others. We witness a trans march and get to meet Kade's supportive friends, including two very sweet and open-minded cis boys that stick up for him. We also meet Anna, Kade's girlfriend. Kade's father details his son’s immense struggle with puberty, describing Kade as “virtually suicidal” in response to his first period. This, he goes on to say, “really cemented and confirmed” the reality of his son’s transgender identity. Kade's mother goes with him to a doctor's appointment where he receives an injection as part of his puberty blocker treatment (with each shot costing $1100), and holds his hand while he gets the shot. When he is older, she does his testosterone injections. It is apparent that Kade is very close with his mother, regardless of how she refers to him. Kade's sister is far less accepting, and is quite self-centred about Kade's transition. She complains that she had already "established" herself in school when Kade became a freshman, and how irritated she became by the idea that she might have to "stick up for" Kade. Such a burden!
Venus Boyz (2002)
This documentary features drag kings of all kinds. Some are women who do drag for political/social reasons, rather than being motivated by gender. One is a self-described butch who also identifies as trans, recounting a childhood where he identified as a boy, empathising with Brandon Teena and describing similar experiences of small town violence. One mixed-race trans king describes a queer upbringing, with a crossdressing bisexual father and a lesbian mother, and meditates on the complexities of gender and ethnicity and class. I really enjoyed interviews with Mildred/Dréd, a black king who offered a rare and very nuanced look into her life and identity. One king's daughter criticises her mother's portrayal of men, and takes issue with the stereotyping of men as inherently aggressive and bad. Many viewers may feel similarly about some aspects of the kings' routines. Regardless, this documentary is valuable. People of all ethnicities, backgrounds, sexualities, and genders are interviewed, including a non-binary person who is transitioning on testosterone, and trans men who have affirmed themselves medically. Trans guys are shown using STPs, discussing intimate transition experiences, and displaying bottom growth images. This definitely isn’t a documentary which prioritises trans men such as myself. As a female-to-male transsexual who feels utterly disconnected from his assigned gender, I don’t see myself in most of the interviewees. But I love witnessing the diversity which has always existed in female-born masculine spaces and, while I didn't agree with some of the views expressed, I'm glad I bought the film. WARNING: Includes seriously unsafe chest binding with duct tape and bandages. Please see the chest binding page for more information.
Call Me Malcolm (2005)
NOT YET WATCHED. Produced by the United Church of Christ, this documentary is about a white trans man named Malcolm, and sounds extremely progressive. The plot, as outlined on the United Church of Christ’s website, is as follows: "Call Me Malcolm is an amazing story of the human spirit and God’s spirit, and the liberating struggle to realize and express with confidence the marvelous gift of one’s truest sense of self. As Malcolm shares his own story and through the stories of others we meet, Call Me Malcolm offers us a glimpse into the real lives of real people who are transgender. But it is only a glimpse. There are many stories to be told and Malcolm helps us make connections to our own stories, encouraging us to share them. That can seem daunting in a culture which has done more to heap shame on persons who identify as transgender. The good news of Malcolm’s story is the way in which shame and fear are overcome by grace, compassion and knowledge. Viewers cannot help but come to a deeper understanding of faith, love, and gender identity, and by doing so, arrive at a deeper understanding of their own journey."
Becoming Chaz (2011)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "Follow Chaz Bono, Sonny and Cher's once golden-haired daughter as he embraces his true self in this intimate and nakedly honest documentary about his own gender reassignment." The trailer includes misgendering, courtesy of Cher, Chaz's mother.
Sam and Evan (2011)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis of Sam and Evan: From Girls to Men is as follows: "17 year-old Sam and 20 year-old Evan describe themselves as a gay male couple, but underneath their clothes they have female bodies. What makes this story so exceptional is that they are both in the process of changing their genders from female to male, at the same time. This film follows their gender-changing journey and the prejudice they encounter along the way – including the humiliation and fear they suffer of having eggs thrown at them as they walk to the bus stop. This is the story of how Sam and Evan met, fell in love, and embarked on a remarkable transgender journey together to transform their bodies from Girls to Men."
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "The documentary Brothers takes you to the female-to-male transgender community in China, a community which endures hardships that are unfathomable to the majority of Chinese society. It documents the life of Tony, who forms part of a group of female-to-male transgendered people who call each other brothers. The film shows Tony’s road to self-acknowledgement, his troubles at work, his decision to undergo sex reassignment surgery and all the difficulties he encounters on his path."
Passing: Profiling the Lives of Young Transmen of Color (2015) features interviews with three men. Their names are Victor Thomas, Lucah Rosenberg Lee, and Sasha Alexander. They discuss invisibility, transitioning, sexuality, relationships, and feeling erased within LGBT+ spaces. It is an absolutely wonderful short documentary 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.
Finding Kim (2016)
Overall, I really enjoyed this documentary. It's so rare to get this extensive an insight into a mature-aged FTM transition. WARNING: This documentary includes graphic, uncensored footage of surgery being performed. Kim, at the beginning of the documentary, is aged 48. We get to see him starting Testosterone, grappling with coming out, and having top surgery. I am so proud of Kim for showing his pre-op chest, especially considering his dysphoria about its size. Later, we get to see Kim swimming shirtless, post-op, and it's such a beautiful moment. Dr. Tony Mangubat, who performed Kim's surgery, is an Asian man. In a very beautiful (but sad) interview, he compared discrimination against trans people to his experience of using “coloured” versus “white” water fountains. I loved seeing his empathy on display. There is some misinformation from gay journalist Dan Savage about phalloplasty and the ability to orgasm, namely that female-to-male bottom surgery options are inherently inferior and unsuccessful. It's worth noting that his opinions are outdated and incorrect. Savage also offers a perspective on coming out which doesn’t take into account abusive families who put trans people in genuinely unsafe (and deadly) situations. He also places the onus on trans people to answer all questions from cis people, even “the average Joe Blow on the street”. I reject that onus, thank you Mr. Savage. Jamison Green (an FTM pioneer) offers a more considered view of coming out to parents and family, and has a beautiful conversation with Kim. Green's interviews are far more valuable, in my opinion, than what Savage has to offer. It's worth noting that Buck Angel is interviewed in this documentary. I stopped following Angel's career a while back, as an FTM transsexual myself, because I found his confrontational and aggressive manner quite anxiety-inducing... and his views have only gotten more extreme since then. However, in this documentary, he is very calm and relatable. He doesn't say anything confrontational at all, and describes feeling positively about the direction that the trans community is heading; having a “glass half full” attitude about the trans movement (an outlook which has clearly changed). He discusses his own experiences with top surgery and choosing not to have bottom surgery, which is definitely valuable for men who feel similarly. Any negative commentary you might associate with Angel isn't included in Finding Kim, so I still highly recommend this film. One comment I will make is that not all trans men, contrary to some of Kim's comments, hate our chests. Not all trans men want surgery, even some trans men with bigger chests. And that is totally okay. One other comment... Kim says that he was inspired by Stone Butch Blues, which is wonderful in itself, but he does label it an FTM book. I would say that's a misinterpretation of who Jess Goldberg is.
Shannon Minter Interview (2016)
NOT YET WATCHED. The bio accompanying this interview begins thusly: "Shannon Minter was born on Valentine’s Day, 1961. He grew up female in a close-knit family and faith community in East Texas. In high school, Shannon came to the conclusion that he was lesbian, and eventually came out to his family as such. After graduating from University of Texas at Austin, Shannon attended Cornell Law School. During his last year there, he began to identify as transgender. He graduated from Cornell in 1993, and in 1996 began transitioning... Shannon has devoted virtually his entire career to the quest for LGBTQ legal equality. Many of his cases have set precedents that safeguard LGBTQ rights."
Change in the Family (2017)
This documentary is pretty tough to watch, because unaccepting cis family members are allowed long monologues that involve misgendering Zo and using his deadname. That said, their perspectives are balanced out by scenes where Zo talks about what he went through, and is currently going through (good and bad). The film feels messy, upsetting, difficult, and complicated in a way that is very authentic to the early-transition stages. I wouldn’t call it a cautionary tale, in the typical sense of the term, but it is a very unvarnished look at the ways a family can react when a trans man begins his journey. Ultimately, the documentary ends on a positive note, and you’re not left feeling depressed or hopeless. I almost view the film as gentle warning to early/pre-transition guys, who might not know what to expect from their family members, and may not be able to see beyond conflict to the more accepting feelings that cis people might struggle to express. If you're in the mood for a sweeter, more comforting look at the early-transition period, I'd suggest watching Krow's TRANSformation instead. (Krow's mother mourns privately, while also actively supporting her son.) That being said, I'm always in support of films that show the journeys of trans men of colour, and that's what Change in the Family is.
Louis Mitchell Interview (2017)
Though there aren't visuals which accompany Rev. Louis Mitchell's audio interview, I've included it on this site because it matters so much. And this type of history is so frequently hidden when people discuss outspoken trans activists throughout history. There is a typed transcript available too, so this interview is quite accessible. The bio accompanying this interview is as follows: "Rev. Louis Mitchell is a pioneering 'intentional man', known around the country and abroad as an elder, advocate, teacher, student, minister, parent and friend. He serves as the Co-founder and Executive Director of Transfaith™/Interfaith Working Group and as the Associate Minister of South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA. Rev. Mitchell is a proud father to his daughter, Kahlo, and co-parent with her mother, Krysia L. Villon. Louis has been in recovery for over three decades and been involved in the fight for health, respect and self-determination since the early 1980s, with deep engagement in political, mental health, recovery, and church contexts. He brings his own learned experiences, a broad range of resources, theories and studies, to offer a fresh, on the ground, open-hearted, holistic strategy to the work of individual and community healing, intersectional diversity planning and commitment to personal and community agency and solvency."
When Women Become Men (2017)
REVIEW PENDING. I watched this a while ago and, from memory, it was good but did involve unsafe activities such as weightlifting and playing football/soccer while binding. It’s available for free on Youtube. I believe there is a follow-up documentary exploring the experiences of Fabian and Marino after the conclusion of this film.
Man Made (2018)
Trans men of many different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, and experiences gather for a bodybuilding competition. Man Made doesn't shy away from the realities of being trans, 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. WARNING: This documentary includes graphic, uncensored footage of surgery being performed.
This film is shockingly refreshing in its depiction of a cis mother’s relationship with her trans son, Vincent. This is another documentary (partly) about the military but I found it easier to watch, probably because there is less focus on the military itself as the film goes on. I was surprised and delighted, actually, by how involved Vincent’s mother was with his journey. The only point of conflict that was ever discussed was an assumption Vincent had made, when he was a teenager, that he had been born intersex and had secretly been operated on by his parents. With no information about being transgender and in response to gender dysphoria, he built up that fiction in his mind as an explanation of why he felt like a boy, but had to live as a girl. Due to that, he carried a lot of resentment. In retelling the story, he apologises for the resentment he had, and his mother laughs and says that she understands. It’s clear they’ve moved past that difficult time of non-communication. He shows his mother STPs, packers, and prosthetics that he uses, and explains to her the ways in which he has sex. It’s a very open and honest dialogue, one that very few people (cis or trans) have with their parents. It didn’t seem unnatural or forced in the slightest. In fact, very natural and lovely. Vincent’s relationship with his grandmother is also very positive. Vincent’s best friend, another trans man, is also interviewed. He provides insight into life, as a parent who has given birth to three children, and how that impacted his dysphoria and gender certainty. I would definitely recommend this documentary. One caveat, though, is that it’s a very binary perspective on transitioning. This does not bother me in the slightest, in terms of my own personal journey. I empathised with almost everything that Vincent said, particularly his comment that the goal of transitioning is to pass. For me, yes, that was (and is) true. But that is not the case for everybody, so be prepared if you are a trans person for whom passing is not the goal, or even achievable. That said, I still feel that this documentary matters, for those of us with similar journeys to Vincent. WARNING: There is unsafe binding in this film (Vincent binds while lifting weights and exerting himself).
Girlz to MEN (2019)
Despite the poor production quality, these are some worthy and insightful interviews with three black trans men. However, one of the interviewees (Chevy) makes some very questionable comments which warrant deeper discussion. The positive things, first... I really liked Chevy’s response when asked if he identified as a man or as a trans man. He said, if he had to choose between society’s labels for him, he would just choose man. I feel the same way, so I enjoyed this comment. Gino had the same response and also added, “I don’t think anything can singlehandedly define a man. Or masculinity. We are what we know we are. We are what we speak.” I really loved that. I would say that Gino's interviews were my favourite, including a beautiful, considered response to a question about God and whether transitioning is right or wrong. I appreciated Jaye’s discussion about how his needs changed as he transitioned, and the consequences of being outed. When he was still received in society as a stud, he needed his girlfriend to tell her family that he was actually a trans man, but once he was passing as a man, he needed girlfriends to respect his privacy and not out him. Now, the negative stuff... Chevy, after asserting that his journey had been made harder by "fad" trans men who were only transitioning because it "looked good", revealed to the interviewers that he binds with duct tape. This, he said, makes him a "real" trans man, compared to men who don't go to such unsafe lengths. He even said that men who use binders or elastic bandages aren't as "real" as he is. By the logic that he offers in this documentary, another of the interviewees isn’t a “real” trans man because he has an unbound chest beneath his clothes. Any documentary that promotes duct tape chest binding, or even bandage binding, is dangerous. I worry about newly-exploring trans men, or even gender non-conforming women and non-binary people, who might be influenced by Chevy's comments. Binding unsafely, and potentially cracking your ribs, doesn't make you any more "real" than trans men who choose not to do that. I chose not to do that to mysef, pre-surgery, after being seriously harmed by that practice. I didn't become any less "real" by making that choice. Chevy's experience is what it is. It is good that he had the opportunity to speak authentically about his journey. But this documentary presented duct tape chest binding with no warnings, no disclaimers, and certainly no concern for vulnerable viewers.
Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth is very beautiful and is wonderfully filmed, if a little slow-paced for my taste. It is a unique and very special look into the journey of a white trans man who chose to carry his own child. I would personally recommend From Daddy's Tummy over Seahorse, but it's still an important and touching production.
No Ordinary Man (2020)
Rather than a straightforward documentary about a historical figure, much of No Ordinary Man features auditions where trans guys 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 weird that many of the guys auditioning to play Tipton did not look like him in the slightest. But I think the inclusion of drastically different trans guys 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 guys 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. One thing is for certain; if filmmakers say they can't find trans male actors, No Ordinary Man is evidence that they just didn't try!
Silence and Swords (2020)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "Real boys skinny-dip, fight with swords and learn to masturbate together. At least that's how the two young transgender men in 'Silence and Swords' imagine boyhood. With a tent and a slightly cliché list of all the things they need to experience, they explore male identity in the vast wilderness of Northern Europe. This educational journey puts their friendship to the test, and forces them into a modern existential battle."
Scum Boy (2021)
NOT YET WATCHED. Judging from the trailer and synopsis, this is an experimental short documentary narrated by a Jewish trans man, going by the title Scum Boy, commenting on social issues and the nature of humanity. It looks very different to more mainstream explorations of trans identities and experiences.
Ya_All FC (2021)
I was very glad to find this short documentary, because it focusses on a group which is extremely underrepresented in the feature-length FTM media I've been able to research and access; Indian trans men. Further, Ya_All FC is the country's first all-FTM football/soccer team, and it's wonderful to see that kind of pioneering effort in any country, especially if that country has restrictive laws which affect trans men. Wahengbam Chaoba, the Captain of the team, speaks about his personal gender journey, including being raised by a father who was supportive of his male identity. He starts crying when discussing his mother's reservations towards his transition, proving how important parental support is, and how crucial FTM-exclusive spaces can be for young trans men without adequate support. When the interviewer asks if Chaoba has found a family in the team, he immediately agrees. "I have found a place to share my story," he elaborates. The founder of the team, a gay man who was motivated by his own isolation and struggles with substance abuse, established a space for trans men after noticing that FTMs were being left behind while trans female visibility was bolstered by HIV awareness movements. The purpose of the team goes beyond simply playing football, with the main goals being equity and social justice. I loved hearing that a primary goal was to turn young trans men into the next generation of leaders.
Imagine a Body (2022)
(Also titled The Second Puberty of Trans Men.) This is a lovely documentary short where trans men are interviewed about their experiences of finally feeling comfortable in their bodies. One trans man laughs as he recalls being surprised by the growth of arse hair. Several men describe the process of testosterone (and transitioning overall) being less linear than they had expected, with changes ebbing and flowing throughout the years. The word cl*t is used by one trans man to reference his bottom growth so, if that will make you dysphoric, proceed with caution. If you're sensitive to needle use, you should be aware that uncensored footage of a testosterone injection is shown.
This is a very sweet, sensitive documentary short. The plot is as follows: "Spring 2021 is a season of transformation for ex-dancer Jack López – a nonbinary, transmasculine parent of four children. Starting testosterone at 43 and readying himself for top surgery, it is a period of huge physical change, but Diego, Frida, Issac and Emilia see Jack as “mummy” whether he has a moustache or not. M(OTHER)HOOD shows an unfiltered but fragmentary perspective of the parent, using the children’s art, cinematography, and words to gain privileged access to their domestic sphere." It can be watched as part of The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival 2022 screening, available (at the time of writing) via the below link, starting at 0:31:51.
A Happy Man (2023)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "Marvin is a trans man living in Sweden, in a long-term marriage with his partner Ivan and their two children. His unexpected separation from his homeland for several months, as well as the slowing down of the entire process of physical and legal sex change during the COVID19 pandemic, intensifies the coexistence between partners and offspring, relationships with relatives and closest co-workers. The period of muted timelessness offers the film's protagonists a space to provide mutual support, acceptance of Marvin's gender identity, and a redefinition of roles within the family. Writing LGBTQ+ novels in which Marvin has created a male alter ego has played an essential role in his discovery and experience of his trans authenticity." In the trailer, Marvin mentions his mother's intense transphobia, and discusses her assertions that his transition amounts to selfishness and self-harm. NOTE: This documentary, as far as I can tell, is completely unrelated to Un Homme Heureux (2023), a fictional film which translates to A Happy Man and focusses on an FTM transition. They were released in the same year and titled the same thing, apparently by coincidence.
My Parent, Neal (2023)
In this documentary short, a trans man named Neal and his daughter talk about Neal's decision to transition in his sixties. Among other things, he discusses the complexity of being attracted to lesbians, his struggle with internalised misandry, regretting not making changes earlier, and not communicating with his daughter enough throughout his journey.
This section includes fictional television shows, reality television shows, and animated programs. Media is sorted alphabetically.
9-1-1: Lone Star
Brian Michael Smith made history when he became the first out, black trans man in a series regular role on a national television series. 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. He's a straight trans man who is fully transitioned when the series begins. 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.
NOT YET WATCHED. Lachlan Watson plays both Glen and Glenda, non-binary twins that are human versions of a single magical doll, split into two souls. The pair both use they/them pronouns. Watson (who is non-binary) influenced the twins' characterisation very closely behind-the-scenes, encouraging the writers to reject the concepts of masculinity and femininity, labelling them as "outdated". It doesn't sound like characterisation I'll personally relate to, as I consider masculinity a very sacred and diverse concept (among trans men and butches and transmasc people of all kinds), but for TGD individuals that feel similarly to Watson, you may enjoy how they portray the non-binary twins.
Druck (Skam Germany)
NOT YET WATCHED. David Schreibner, a trans young man, is played by a trans male actor named Lukas von Horbatschewsky. According to the show's wiki, "David Schreibner is a main character in the first generation of Druck. He is a main character in the third and fourth seasons, and a guest character in the seventh." You can watch his coming-out scene via the link below.
NOT YET WATCHED. Mae Martin, a Canadian comedian who now identifies as non-binary and has undergone top surgery, stars in a semi-autobiographical romantic tragicomedy about their sobriety, love life, and trauma. From everything I've heard, it sounds very funny but also very serious at stages. As far as I understand it, at the beginning of Feel Good neither Mae nor their fictionalised self were using the label non-binary, but in season 2 that label is introduced alongside Mae's real-life coming out. Via the link below, you can watch the scene where they are encouraged to embrace their non-binary identity. It's very sweet and simple.
Golden Girls (S03E07)
Gil Kessler's transition and gender identity is played as a joke. From the beginning of the episode, a main 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 an offensive depiction of female-to-male transsexuals.
NOT YET WATCHED. Trans boy Nao Tsurumoto played by Japanese actress Aya Ueto. I really recommend watching the video available at via link below, to get more context about why the casting of an actress doesn't necessarily disqualify San-nen B-gumi Kinpachi-sensei from having been very impactful. That said, be prepared for dangerous chest binding and confronting themes, including a sexual assault by Nao's father, and a very graphic self harm scene that's pretty horrifying. Despite that, the video provides a very good summary, and has a timestamp in the description that will allow you to skip the self harm scene.
Naked Education (S01E03)
This show aims to de-stigmatise and demystify human bodies. Each episode is split into three parts: Teen Talk, The Naked Brigade, and The Naked Exchange. In Teen Talk, "teenagers in a supervised classroom environment talk about body issues, and get to see naked models of all ages and body types". In The Naked Brigade, "an individual with body confidence issues, supported by a team of body-positive people, faces a challenge to help them overcome it". In The Naked Exchange, "two people with similar body journey stories, who are at different stages on their journeys, meet up for a conversation and, if they wish and feel comfortable, share their naked bodies". After hearing that a post-Phalloplasty trans man was featured in episode three's The Naked Exchange segment, I immediately rushed to watch it. I quickly found myself profoundly uncomfortable with the beginning of the show-- not because there is anything wrong with the content and, in fact, I passionately support non-sexual education which pushes back against harmful myths perpetuated in pornography and on social media. Rather, the anatomically-correct discussions of "female anatomy" made me dysphoric. That doesn't mean such discussion is bad, not in the slightest, and I'd have been glad of this education when I was a teenager and still living as a girl. So, while I support such discussions occurring, I did skip around and exclusively watch The Naked Exchange segments, which featured a late-twenties trans man (Lucian) and an older, post-transition man (Finn). Lucian and Finn discuss their transitions, their differing backgrounds, and their experiences of maleness. Lucian talks about undergoing top surgery only six months prior to the episode, and says he wants to have bottom surgery in the future. Finn discusses coming out at thirty-seven years of age, having six surgeries to complete his genital reconstruction, and the happiness he now enjoys. All questions asked of the trans men, by the interviewer and by each other, were respectful and exactly what I would've wanted from a show such as this. In a non-sexual, almost clinical setting, Finn undresses and shows Lucian his Phalloplasty result. Lucian asks questions about Finn's sensation, how the surgical result was achieved, how long the process took, and other particulars. I wish this kind of representation had been around earlier, and I'm so happy it's here now. At a time when Phalloplasty is still widely misunderstood, it's wonderful that we're able to see full-frontal nudity of a post-transition FTM guy. I'm so grateful to Finn for his bravery, especially considering the transphobia which abounds in his home country. I can't comment on the other segments (Teen Talk and The Naked Brigade), as I only watched the Phalloplasty/FTM-centric scenes. But, from what I did watch, a disabled non-binary person participated in The Naked Parade and was affirmed by the other participants, which is very cool. The show also features cancer survivors, older people, post-pregnancy women, and quadriplegic people. Prepare for anatomically-correct language when Finn and the interviewer are discussing his pre- and post-op anatomy. Also, be aware that Finn discusses disordered eating, alcohol addiction, and other struggles which occurred due to his gender dysphoria going unmanaged. Via the link below, you can read about Finn's experience filming Naked Education.
Orphan Black (S02E08)
For my full review, see the link below. When I first watched this show, I really enjoyed the inclusion of Tony Sawicki, a trans man who finds out that he is the product of an illegal human cloning experiment. However, upon rewatching Orphan Black, I realised how bad his characterisation actually is, and the negative stereotypes Tatiana Maslany (an actress) over-emphasised in order to play him.
Small Town Security
NOT YET WATCHED. This reality TV show is about a family-owned private security company in North Georgia. Dennis Croft, who transitioned before the show aired, chose to come out as FTM in the show. The only part of the show I've seen is a scene where Croft receives his Reelmagik prosthetic penis in the mail, and unpacks it with other staff watching. One woman is very dismissive and disapproving, whereas two other members of staff are accepting and amused.
The Bold and the Beautiful
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.
The L Word: Generation Q
NOT YET WATCHED. The prequel series to The L Word: Generation Q misrepresented trans men as aggressive and unstable but, by most reports, the modern day rebirth has done a much better job. For starters, two out trans men were cast as trans men, and both of them are men of colour: Brian Michael Smith and Leo Sheng. I really liked Smith in 911 Lone Star, so I can definitely recommend his acting. And Sheng (almost) made the film Adam bearable, so that's a serious credit to his acting skills. Daniel Sea, the trans actor who played the original show's trans male character (Max) reportedly returns in Gen Q, as a much more realistic and settled individual.
NOT YET WATCHED. Theo Germaine (a white trans actor) plays James, a trans guy who uses he/him/his pronouns but whose gender is not a plot point. According to the link below, Germaine has said in interviews: "He’s just a high school boy who gets to live his life, and the story is about trying to get his friend to win the election." So, it sounds like casual trans representation without any of the drama, which could be very refreshing.
Work in Progress
Work in Progress is very sweet and authentic, right down to the casting of main and side characters. A 45 year-old, white, 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. 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 emphasises that Chris is happy to enter into the relationship. Abby sees Chris as a man, and refers to him as such. I really enjoyed Abby and Chris' discussions about sexual preferences and dysphoria.
Billions (S2 Onwards)
For my full review, see the link below. Taylor Mason, a non-binary main character, very much breaks the mould of an otherwise typical drama show, and is played by a white non-binary actor (Asia Kate Dillon). Their adversaries, even when plotting how to take them down, continue to use they/them pronouns. The consensus is generally 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, and the fact that Taylor is portrayed as an intelligent, capable person who isn't afraid of conflict. They are misgendered a few times by antagonistic and ignorant characters, and also by their father, who is struggling to accept their gender.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
For my full review, see the link below. Theo, who began the series as Susie, is a trans boy played by white trans actor Lachlan Watson. The series itself is a weird mix of juvenile and violent, 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/lesbophobic bullying which does cease as the series progresses, so prepare for that. In the first episode, Theo is found crying after a sexual assault, and in season 2 he's sexually harassed while trying to use the boy's changing room. It's worth noting, too, that the show does not handle the abuse of boys/men very well, particularly when it comes to cis male characters.
Dead End: Paranormal Park
Zach Barack, a trans actor, stars as Barney, a gay trans boy and the protagonist of Dead End: Paranormal Park. This show is groundbreaking in that respect! It's a light, childish, humorous animated series which reminds me of Gravity Falls. Miss Coco Peru, a drag queen I've adored for a long time, voices the show's fabulous antagonist Pauline. The show has a talking dog, demons, cartoon-typical antics, and found family themes. Beyond Zach, there are heaps of LGBT+ characters and people of colour. My review is based on season 1, and I haven't yet watched season 2. Based on everything I've seen though, this is a very sweet option for people who enjoy animated shows and want lighthearted representation. Through Zach's parents and grandmother, the show tackles transphobia and abandonment themes, but in a very sweet way.
PARTLY WATCHED. Trans boy played by Canadian actress Jordan Todosey. This storyline was praised as being very progressive when it originally aired, but I'm pretty confident in saying we've come a long way since then, judging by the character's use of bandages. All of the scenes I've seen are very cliché and one-dimensional. But that could just be the show itself, as it's primarily made for teenagers. You can watch some scenes via the link below, but prepare yourself for unsafe chest binding, self harm, transphobia, and bullying.
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.
NOT YET WATCHED. Dot-Marie Jones, an actress, portrays Sheldon Beiste, initially introduced as Shannon. You can watch one of his transition-related scenes via the link below, where he is returning to work for the first time since transitioning. It's one of the most awkward things I've ever seen.
To read my full review, see the link below. Trans male actor Isaiah Stannard plays Ben, a trans boy who begins the show as Sadie and then transitions. Stannard gives a great performance and I'm really glad the writers decided to include a trans male character instead of the cis character they originally planned. However, there are many warnings to be aware of before watching Good Girls.
Law & Order SVU (S19E18)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "When a female escort is found sexually assaulted and brutally beaten, the Special Victims Unit is called in to investigate. They soon discover that she was in a sleazy hotel with three soldiers from the military. However, the case becomes complicated when one soldier refuses to talk and another confesses to the crime, even though it is clear that he is lying. Eventually, when the real rapist is found and the DNA comes in, the case takes an extremely shocking twist and a huge sacrifice is made by one of the soldiers who has been hiding a secret from the world for a very long time." I'm not particularly looking forward to watching this episode in its entireity, because I have already viewed an excerpt (accessible via the link below) and it's repugnant. Marquise Vilsón, a black trans actor, plays a trans man who is falsely accused of rape. Not only is he needlessly outed as FTM during the legal proceedings, a lawyer perpetuates some disgusting misandry when he insists that "most red-blooded men" would take the opportunity to have sex with a distraught victim of violence. After all, she's a beautiful woman, so they wouldn't be able to hold back, right? What an utterly heinous way to think about any group of people.
Our Flag Means Death
For my full review, see the link below. This show stars non-binary actor of colour Vico Ortiz as Jim Jimenez, a gender-bending pirate who canonically goes by they/them pronouns. This show is funny, well-acted, and compelling even beyond the non-binary representation. This is a recommended watch!
Queer Eye (2018)
NOT YET WATCHED. Despite criticism from the trans community about the way Skyler Jay (an American trans man) was treated in S02E05 of the new Queer Eye show, he reportedly had a very good experience, and has described the ways in which the episode didn't reflect how happy he was both behind-the-scenes and during filming. You can read more via the link below.
NOT YET WATCHED. Ellie Desautels, a trans actor, plays Michael Hallowell, a trans male student. According to a review (accessible via the button below) it's pretty good representation. More broadly speaking, the synopsis of the TV series is as follows: "A working class high school drama department and the students come alive under a passionate teacher and family man whose dedication to the program galvanizes the entire town."
Season 1 of this wonderful, amazing, genuinely groundbreaking show was also released as a feature film, which is how I watched it. In either category (film or show) Rūrangi is arguably the best piece of trans male media that exists, and it’s certainly my favourite. Plus, most crucially, it's extremely high quality. It's watchable beyond the trans themes, well-written and well-acted. I haven’t yet watched season 2, so this review is only for the film version (AKA season 1), but the trailer for season 2 looks fucking incredible and I have no doubt that it’ll be an amazing watch. A Māori trans man (Elz Carrad) was cast in the role of Caz, the protagonist of Rūrangi. The majority of the cast and crew were trans, the writer (Cole Meyers) was trans, and the director (Max Currie) was a self-described “salty old homosexual”. Beyond the LGBT+ representation both in and behind the scenes, 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. 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, during which Caz's mother died. The film tackles transphobia, homophobia, suicide, alcohol misuse, and mental illness, so you should be prepared for that. But it's beautiful storytelling, and not at all cheap or voyeuristic. A theme included in this movie that I didn't expect was Caz encountering exhaustion after years of being an out trans activist, finding himself overwhelmed by the young, desperate trans people who rely on him. I've never seen a film capture that particular struggle, and hadn't realised how badly I needed to that affirmation. I loved Caz's chemistry with men onscreen, both with his ex-boyfriend (who is coming to terms with his bisexuality) and another male lover. I also adored his friendship with Anahera, a Māori woman who is either lesbian or bisexual, and coming to terms with her own cultural identity. I can’t recommend Rūrangi enough. It’s awesome.
For various reasons, Shameless is not my cup of tea. Elliot Fletcher (white FTM actor) plays Trevor, a trans male character who is just as flawed 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. Trevor sticks around for several seasons and is the love interest of a cis gay man.
For my full review, see the link below. Murray Hill, who began performing as a drag king in the mid nineties, stars as a recurring character named Fred Rococo. The series itself is a comedy that has been very well received, and does a wonderful job of humanising both cis men and trans men.
Tales of the City (2019)
For my full review, see the link below. This show primarily focusses on relationships, specifically conflict and budding romances between couples. It's a very realistic take on being LGBT+, in that it doesn't ignore the reality that such couples fight, break up, and even cheat on each other. The cast is hugely diverse, with trans actors playing trans characters, and people of colour in both main and supporting roles. Garcia, a trans actor of colour, plays a trans man named Jake Rodriguez. This show is a recommended watch, but there are several warnings to be aware of.
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, and prompts some inappropriate comments by the Autistic protagonist. 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 (Emmett Preciado), he discusses his desire for fatherhood, and the seriousness of his 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.
The OA does get points for casting a trans actor (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. This show is confusing at best and insulting at worst. I stopped watching season 1 when a tortured cis man was forced into sex with a woman. Despite the fact that he was utterly unable to consent, the female protagonist was offended that he'd been unfaithful to her, rather than caring about his trauma. (Victim blaming, much?) The transgender representation was not enough to keep me watching, especially when the plot is so thin and tenuous. The show labels itself as being progressive but doesn't take the sexual assault of men seriously. Go figure. I did resume watching the show after that point. It wasn't worth it.
Umbrella Academy (S3 Onwards)
Elliot Page has been extremely public about his transition and, following this, his character on the Umbrella Academy has transitioned as well. Page reportedly had a good experience on set and contributed to the 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 had sex with 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, 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. Showrunners have defended Allison's characterisation, saying she ought to be sympathised with because she's in pain. Not an excuse that tends to sell nowadays when male characters attempt to rape women, is it? I'm not inconsistent in my judgement of such characters. The cultural obsession with Breaking Bad passed me by entirely. When I did try to watch it, years after it ended, I found myself unable to continue beyond the S02E01 scene where the protagonist tried to rape his wife, despite her pushing him off and telling him to stop. The broader (lacking) cultural conversation around consent, plus the popularity of the show, caused audiences to disregard the assault when the show originally aired. I see a similar thing happening with The Umbrella Academy. Much of society still doesn't want to believe men can be raped or sexually coerced, especially cis men. So, the writers believe a man being sexually assaulted is okay. It's just a woman expressing her sadness and frustration, right? Just like Walter White did in Breaking Bad. I'll say this... I really doubt the writers would've dared to make Elliot Page's character the target of Allison's unwanted sexual advances, and still asked audiences to sympathise with the predator.
Y: The Last Man (2021)
In this rebooted series, Elliot Fletcher plays Sam Jordan and Harrison Browne (white 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. (He is a main character, and not a particularly compelling one.) Why they chose to retain the title, when he is evidently not the last man left alive in this new trans-inclusive reboot, puzzles me. I didn't like the show for reasons beyond that contradiction, and dropped off after the first two episodes. It wasn't very compelling in terms of acting and writing, but that's just my opinion. I might update this review when I give the show another try.
This section is dedicated to studio films, independent films, short films, and feature films. Media is sorted by year of release.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
For my full review, see the link below. This film depicts a trans man as a perverted, deceitful, violent freak who sexually harasses and assaults a cishet man, before killing him. He also violently murders two lesbians. He embodies harmful trans tropes and homophobic ideas about the sexual aggression of gay men.
Ma vie en rose (1997)
This film is primarily about a young trans girl named Ludovic, who suffers humiliation and discrimination from both family and peers, not allowed to express herself around anybody except her grandmother. Another child appears towards the end of the film, who I interpret as a trans boy, but could otherwise be a young butch or simply a tomboy. As Ludovic sits alone, she is approached by a masculine child who introduces himself as Chris. Chris is aggressive and boisterous, the opposite of Ludovic in every way, and insists that Ludovic play with him. Before that can happen, though, Chris is called back home. When his mother yells "Christine”, it is the first indication we get that Chris is not a cis boy. Chris looks heartbroken and upset. Later, Chris is forced to wear a dress to his birthday party, and mopes around miserably until Ludovic arrives wearing a pirate costume. Chris demands that Ludovic swap costumes with him and put on the dress. Ludovic, though excited and eager to wear a dress, says no because her parents have threatened and shamed her away from feminine behaviours. Chris forces her to swap costumes with him anyway. When Ludovic’s mother sees that Ludovic has put on a dress, she becomes violent. This shocks everyone at the party, including Chris, who becomes very distressed and tells Ludovic’s mother that Ludovic only swapped costumes because she’d been forced into it. This is pretty much the extent of Chris’ presence in the film, but his appearance was a pleasant surprise when I watched My Life in Pink originally, as I wasn’t expecting any gender-diverse characters beyond Ludovic. Ultimately, this isn’t a very nice film, and probably not worth watching unless you have a high tolerance for transphobia, homophobia, and children being mistreated. The trailer, linked below, doesn’t at all communicate the amount of abuse that Ludovic endures.
Strange Circus (2005)
For starters, I highly recommend reading about this film via the link below. While my review will focus on the trans man in this film, the movie deals with many themes which are extremely confronting and deserve dedicated in-depth critique. Alyssa Miller, a survivor of child sexual abuse, eloquently and thoroughly reviews Strange Circus in a way I simply cannot. In summary, while Miller asserts that the movie is an "incredibly accurate portrayal of the long-term effects of sexual abuse on children", this film will not be watchable for many people. There is gore, child abuse, spousal abuse, incestuous rape, self harm, suicide, torture, forced voyeurism and exhibitionism... the list goes on. My personal opinion is that this movie is grotesque and awful... but that's the aim. If you're really into horror movies and have a very high tolerance for awful shit, you might even enjoy the campy, exaggerated violence with which the trans male gets his revenge. I have to be in a very specific, chilled-out, open-minded mood to watch Strange Circus, otherwise it's just upsetting. This is a good movie. It's not a movie most people will enjoy (understandably), but it is good within the genre of Japanese ero-guro. The trans man who is violent and unpredictable and threatening isn't the embodiment of a classic anti-trans trope. His motivations are thoroughly explored. If anything, he's portrayed as a survivor of extreme abuse, who also has the superhuman strength to exact revenge beyond what most humans would be capable of. When it comes to his gender identity, he explains his FTM transition by saying, "To me, the body is a vase you put your flowers in... I wanted to be a vase that compliments the flowers." While also entwined with self-mutilation themes and body horror (his top surgery scars are profoundly unrealistic), his trans identity is ultimately an expression of autonomy.
Mein Freund aus Faro (2008)
The protagonist of My Friend From Faro, 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 that's not definitive, because this could easily be a movie about a transmasc person or a trans man too. Regardless, the film is likely relatable for all of those demographics, because Mel/Miguel's gender is never actually labelled. Anjorka Strechel, who plays the gender-ambiguous protagonist, is a white German actress. The DVD cover itself features a review from Variety that says, "Imagine Boys Don't Cry with a happy ending... A sweet-natured coming-of-ager." So, the female-to-male themes are certainly present, but with far more ambiguity than the fictional depiction of Brandon Teena's life. The viewer gets to decide whether Mel/Miguel is assuming the male role because (similarly to Stone Butch Blues) it's the only role offered by society which allows her to be her masculine butch self or, like Brandon, he is actually a trans male. Mel/Miguel is very masculine throughout the whole film, shows intense discomfort when putting on a dress, and is fascinated with mimicking male mannerisms. 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 an accidental age gap that many viewers find challenging. Both partners lie about their age, but the issue arises with Jenny's lie, as she claims to be of age when she actually isn't. It's also worth noting that the actress who played Jenny, while she had a good experience on set, was only 15 when she starred alongside the 26 year-old actress who played Mel/Miguel. I'd say that this isn't a film which would be made nowadays, but the same could be said about many apparently-beloved cishet classics like Lolita (1997) and Pretty Baby (1978), both of which are far more perverse than My Friend From Faro. There's no Sally Horner behind My Friend From Faro.
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, but I actually love Romeos. It's one of my favourite FTM films, despite being deeply flawed. I won't deny that Romeos 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 FTM 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. Lucas is played by a white German cis man named Rick Okon and, when shown topless, Okon wears very convincing chest prosthetics. While trans actors should play trans characters nowadays, I really appreciated that (back in 2011) a cis man was chosen instead of a cis woman. Lucas is shown using a chest binder, researching phalloplasty options, arguing with higher-ups to try and have his gender respected, injecting testosterone, lifting weights, and navigating cis gay communities while trying to be stealth. Footage and pictures of actual, real-life trans men are included as Lucas does his research, which I liked. There's a happy ending that has moved me to tears on more than one occasion.
52 Tuesdays (2013)
This indie film follows a bisexual teenager as she adjusts to her parent 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. He is mocked for transitioning later in life and generally treated like shit. 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. Billie, at one stage, punches her trans father in his still-healing chest, post-op. James struggles with alcoholism and depression when he has to discontinue testosterone due to medical issues. There is a happy ending, but boy, James has to go through some awful stuff beforehand. You'll need to be comfortable with trans characters being dragged through the mud to watch this flick. Del Herbert-Jane, who plays Jane/James, originally joined the project as a gender diversity consultant, before being convinced to play the trans main character. WARNING: There is unsafe binding in this movie.
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. The intersex main character is played by Sarah Snook, a white Australian actress. By all reports she is endosex and cisgender, although I clearly can't know that for certain, as someone who doesn't know her personally.
3 Generations (2015)
Despite leaning heavily on trans tropes and emphasising the “struggle” of cis family members in adjusting to a trans boy’s journey, this film is 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 other actors involved. Elle Fanning, a white American actress, researched trans experiences and watched trans Youtubers' videos prior to filming 3 Generations, describing in interviews how she was moved to tears by trans kids' experiences. 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 who sexually harasses him and calls him slurs including "faggot", 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. WARNING: Though Ray offhandedly mentions that he's no longer binding with ACE bandages, the comment isn't enough to compensate for the bandage binding which is shown earlier in the film. He is also shown lifting weights while wearing a chest binder, which sets a dangerous example for trans viewers who may harm themselves by attempting that same feat.
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. Kim is played by Tuva Jagell, an actress.
Party Dress (2017)
This is a very sweet, and very short, film about gender non-conformity in youth. A trans boy, played by white trans boy Isaiah Stannard, tries to fit in with girls and then realises he would be much happier skating with other boys and young men. Again, very short, but nonetheless affirming and very relatable for trans men such as myself.
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 white 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.
The Conductor (2018)
Scott Turner Schofield (a white 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. I found the main storyine pretty boring, as I was mainly watching for Schofield's appearances, but it's a solid movie nonetheless.
I definitely wouldn't recommend watching this movie. It's insufferable. Every single character is a stereotype. There's an Asian girl with blue streaks dyed through her hair (a film trope that has been widely criticised), a trans man who binds with bandages, a violent jock, a superficial blonde girl, and a young man with a psychiatric disorder whose mutterings and overdramatic outbursts only crop up when convenient for the plot. Germophobia/OCD is handled similarly. Within six minutes, the trans man (Kai) is misgendered and then deadnamed. He's later shown wearing bandages to bind his chest, which made me furious. Any goodwill that this film earned for casting a trans man (Tyler DiChiara) in a trans male role utterly disappeared with the portrayal of such a dangerous act. Filmmakers easily could've shown him wearing a chest binder. Kai is supposed to be pre-everything, which (I imagine) is the justification for having him use bandages, but that doesn't make sense when the actor playing him is very clearly on Testosterone. Kai is cornered by two cis men, who are intent on raping him after clocking him as trans. The sexual harassment and assaulting of trans men is an under-discussed issue in modern trans advocacy, so I suppose I'd have been happy if this film tackled it. But it didn't really tackle it at all, not in a meaningful way. Later, when another character discusses being raped by the head of a psychiatric institution, her trauma is glossed over in a similarly poor way. Relish really isn't worth your time. In terms of general warnings, it includes drug and alcohol use, self harm scars, and painkiller withdrawal. Hardly any good qualities exist to compensate for scenes that might be upsetting.
A Good Man (2020)
For my full review, see the link below. The basic plot of A Good Man is that Benjamin, a trans man, decides to carry a pregnancy because his partner (Aude) cannot. I did not like this film for many reasons beyond the fact that an actress (Noémie Merlant) was cast to play the trans male lead. It starts out alright and goes very quickly downhill. I would not recommend watching it.
A gay trans man played by a white trans actor (Pete MacHale) has fun with his boyfriend, and they discuss his gender presentation. This short film 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 testosterone. It is apparent in the film that he is versatile; sex is discussed, and viewers see his penile prosthetic.
Under My Skin (2020)
This is more of a breakup movie than a romance movie. Denny moves in with Ryan, who assumes them to be a cis woman. Denny, still questioning their gender and not sure who they are, doesn't initially correct him. This sets the pair off on a journey of chaos and domestic conflict that feels almost uncomfortably real. Under My Skin could be a guidebook on how to not act in relationships. It's a mutual mess. Throughout the film, Denny is portrayed by four different non-binary actors; Liv Hewson, Bobbi Salvor Menuez, Chloe Freeman, and Lex Ryan. It's a way to communicate how multi-faceted gender can be, especially during the early-transition phase. I found the result a bit strange, but it's a cool concept and I liked that the movie did something unique. What I didn't like about this film was that Denny binds their chest with bandages, which is undeniably dangerous. I'm really sick of early-transition exploration being used to justify that tired old trope, and I'd hoped this movie would be better than that. Denny has a smartphone and easy access to information about binding. They should've been shown using a safe binder from the outset, skipping bandages altogether. Even when they do move onto a binder, it's a clasp binder, and it looks dangerously similar to the harmful clasp binders available on sites like Amazon. No film, inclusive casting or not, should get away with setting a dangerous example nowadays. Another thing I really didn't like is that Ryan is sexually harassed by his boss with less than 15 minutes left in the film. It was a random scene that was deeply uncomfortable. Then, with less than 6 minutes left, Denny is called "it" by the same creep. Almost as though the filmmakers included Ryan being sexually harassed just to emphasise that people who maliciously misgender trans individuals are unsavoury, which... is a message that really didn't need to be reinforced with a gross harassment scene. It struck me as very unnecessary. All in all, a messy film that not everybody will enjoy, but at least it was something interesting and different! If I'm honest, I wish Liv Hewson had singlehandedly played Denny. Their acting is superb. But I applaud the diversity of including different non-binary actors.
A Man Called Otto (2022)
NOT YET WATCHED. Mack Bayda, a white trans actor, plays a young trans man named Malcolm. After being kicked out of his home by his father, he is taken in by Otto (the protagonist, played by Tom Hanks). From the sounds of things, this is a feel-good movie that features a trans man as a side character, rather than transgender experiences being the main plot. From what I've read, this film tackles themes including suicide, depression, and death, so you should proceed with caution. But it seems to be well-received by most viewers.
Emanuele Crialese, a trans man born in 1965, directed this semi-autobiographical film about a trans boy's relationship with his mother. Beyond the trans themes, the movie primarily deals with family dysfunction, misogyny, spousal control, domestic abuse, and infidelity. Andrea (alternatively called Andrew in the translated English version of this film) is the oldest of three children. His brother overeats, seems to be suffering from pica (he is shown eating some kind of topical ointment), and defecates indoors on the carpet. This is due to the domestic conflict which is affecting all children. At its most disturbing, this film shows Andrea crawling into his parent's bedroom to save his mother from being raped. The movie overall oscillates between lighthearted, idyllic childhood scenes and confronting instances of assault and harassment. Ultimately, this is a good film, although it did feel slightly unfinished when I got to the end. I liked the explorations of Andrea's gender identity and frustration. He tries to figure out who he is through fantasies involving God, aliens, and adoption. He has a summer romance with Sara, a local girl who accepts him as a boy. They play games together and have their first kiss.
Wendell & Wild (2022)
NOT YET WATCHED. Kat, a teenage orphan, is sent to an all-girls Catholic school. One single male student resides at the school; Raúl, an artistic Latino trans boy voiced by Sam Zelaya (who is also trans). Raúl is the first trans character featured in a stop-motion animated film. You can read more at the link below.
NOT YET WATCHED. This film stars Lío Mehiel, a Puerto Rican and Greek trans actor, as a gay trans man. The plot, as described by Sundance, is as follows: "Feña, a young trans guy bustling through life in New York City, is afflicted with an incessantly challenging day that resurrects ghosts from his past. Laundromats, subway turnstiles, and airport transfers are the hectic background to this emotional drama that overlaps past, present, and future."
Un homme heureux (2023)
Don’t get your hopes up; the trans man pictured above is a very minor character, whose touching and meaningful contribution is horribly overshadowed by the rest of the film. Serge, this minor character, is played by a trans actor named Kay Garnellen. He speaks very briefly with the protagonist about his experiences of fatherhood, pregnancy, and dysphoria, and has only one other (non-speaking) scene. The protagonist, contrastingly, is a trans man named Eddy, played by actress Catherine Frot... and not, in my opinion, particularly well. What frustrated me most about this film was the squandering of a very worthwhile concept, and the failure to treat the story of an older trans man with appropriate respect. The casting of an actress to play Eddy reinforces the idea that trans men are just deluded women playing dress-up. Eddy supposedly transitions on testosterone throughout the film, but depictions of his facial hair are less convincing than the getups I've seen drag kings perfect with far less money than this movie had access to. This film is not a realistic depiction of what testosterone does to the body, of how a man looks and sounds when transitioning hormonally. It's not convincing or impressive. Beyond that, much of the comedy in this film is derived from Eddy being mercilessly mocked by a transphobic, misogynistic, homophobic husband whose comeuppance doesn't begin to compensate for what a total twat he is. From the trailer, I got the feeling that this film would've been more appropriate about a decade ago and, what do you know, I was right. There are some enjoyable moments, but not nearly enough to make this a recommended watch. This film could have redeemed itself if Eddy had been shown bonding with, communicating with, and seeking the insights of trans men who are further along in their journeys; trans men who could have taught him more about testosterone, surgery, and male socialisation. But Eddy doesn't seek out other trans men with any enthusiasm, and so all the film has to offer trans men is his deeply flawed storyline plus the token contributions of a couple FTM blokes. Older trans men deserve better stories than this.
Desire Lines (2024)
NOT YET RELEASED. The plot of this hybrid fiction/non-fiction film is as follows: "An underground narrative has long been whispered among transgender men: after coming out as trans, many of us develop an attraction for other men. In this hybrid documentary, history comes alive when an Iranian-American transman time-travels on a dizzying quest to unravel his own sexual desires. As Ahmad approaches age 60, his long-suppressed desires for other men become impossible to ignore. Having grown up in an era when homosexual activity could block one’s access to medical transition, he can’t help but wonder whether his sexuality and gender identity are completely at odds. He turns to the LGBT archives for answers, where he meets a 20-something trans archivist named Kieran. As Ahmad falls deeper into the archive, he is quite literally sucked into the text—becoming a time-traveler who participates in the queer cruising history he reads about. This fictional narrative is interwoven with archival gems and a trove of contemporary oral histories from a diverse group of transmen across North America. These participants candidly discuss the evolution of their desires and illuminate their struggles with gender (non)conformity, fetishization, transphobia, sexual racism, and safer sex. Desire Lines pushes against binaries—fiction vs. non-fiction, reality vs. fantasy, public vs. private—in order to highlight the fallacy of “purity” that undergirds colonialist notions of discrete categories of being (or genre); embracing bewilderment as a liberatory strategy for trans representation." The team behind Desire Lines is largely trans, including Amos Mac (co-writer of No Ordinary Man), Jules Rosskam, André Perez, Nate Gualtieri, and Marie Hinson. It would be an understatement to say I'm very keen for this one to be released! If I'm not mistaken, one of the main actors in the film is Cyd St. Vincent, too.
Private Parts (1972)
When this film's trans male character, George, is found dead, amused policemen ogle his exposed chest and remark, "Look at the jugs on this guy! Boy, oh boy! With knockers like that, I could go for this guy myself!" In death, he is reduced to being a freakish specimen, much like the FTM villain in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, released two years prior to this film. Unlike that movie however, a narrative of trans deception and perversion was planned from the very beginning of Private Parts, to the extent that injectable testosterone is clearly visible in George's cabinets, for viewers who are paying attention. Another difference between the two films is that Private Parts doesn't just portray a trans man as a sexually obscene weirdo, but also as a feeble, pathetic, damaged person who only transitioned because he had an abusive mother who forced him to be trans. In that sense, Private Parts offers dual transphobic tropes, mirroring the logic used to mock real FTM journeys; transition as a manifestation of perverse, unacceptable sexual desire, and transition as a result of domestic abuse and bad parenting. The idea that trans men can't make our own decisions, and must have instead been forced by our caregivers to adopt a male identity, is an old idea used to strip away FTM autonomy, and it's an idea which provides the foundation for Private Parts. Cheryl, the female protagonist of Private Parts, desires George and even strips for him, spending much of the film being sexually assertive and confident. She's certainly bolder than most hapless female victims of this genre, but she's ultimately terrified and physically intimidated by George when he advances towards her with a needle, seeking to inject his blood into her body in lieu of being able to ejaculate like a cis male. While the killers in this film are ultimately both women (George's mother and Cheryl herself), and George ends up being a victim, that doesn't stop this film being incredibly transphobic. Beyond transphobic tropes, this film also conflates homosexuality with paedophilia, by way of a character named Reverend Moon, who gets visibly excited when asked about the whereabouts of a "clean-cut fifteen year-old boy".
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 crimes 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 rape) and enjoyed them. Hilary Swank, the actress who played Brandon Teena, did do an amazing job in the role, and participated in some heartwarming interviews where she advocated on behalf of Brandon and other, still-living trans men. Ultimately, I'm glad this film was made, and it is a part of our history... even if we deserve better now. WARNING: There is unsafe binding in this movie.
No Bikini (2007)
This sweet, simple short film is based on the true experiences of Ivan E. Coyote, who is a renowned non-binary/butch activist. Robin, the protagonist of No Bikini, is a kid who feels irritated and restricted by female bathing costumes, and so chooses to go shirtless like the boys do. This feels so natural, easy, and right that Robin hopes the swimming lessons will go on forever but, at the end of the film, Robin's mother is astounded and annoyed when she finds out that Robin has been "parading around half-naked for six weeks". What I like about this film is that it could easily be about a trans boy, a non-binary youth, a tomboy, or simply a girl who sees no difference between herself and other kids. No Bikini is set in a simpler, easier period of childhood where gender norms don't really exist, and splashing around in a pool doesn't require rules. There are no physical differences between Robin and the boys, when Robin is walking around shirtless. So, why not wear the most comfortable swimwear? Robin smiles when the swimming lesson report card is read out: "Your son has successfully passed his beginner's badge and is ready for the next level. He shows great promise. We suggest that you enrol him in our competitive swim program." Is Robin smiling because she is simply a girl being free and uninhibited, uncaring about gender and simply delighted to have performed above her peers? Or is Robin smiling because they, like Ivan Coyote, are motivated by a non-normative gender experience? It's up to the viewer. Either way, a lovely short film. You can read Ivan Coyote's original short story here: bit.ly/3ZRWFEY
To be clear: This is not a trans male film! But I feel it's important to include here, because the protagonist's journey will likely reassure some questioning visitors to this site that, yes, there are people like you in the world. If you're trying to figure out who you are, and especially if you're a person of colour who doesn't relate to white depictions of AFAB gender non-conformity, this film will give you a window into Masculine-of-Centre (MoC), Boi, Stud, and Aggressive (AG) expression. Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), the protagonist of Pariah, expresses herself masculinely when able to, and is intensely uncomfortable when made to wear feminine clothing. When forced to wear a skirt and a pink shirt, she insists, "this isn't me". Throughout the film she tries to figure out who she is, and tries to live authentically despite an intensely homophobic mother who ultimately becomes violent when Alike stands up for herself. Throughout my time in LGBT+ communities, I have seen so much community overlap and so many complex identities. There are butches who identify as transmasc. There are lesbians who affirm themselves through low doses of testosterone, and sometimes even top surgery. There are MoC women who get breast reductions as a form of gender affirmation, allowing them to be their most authentic type of woman. There is so much beauty beyond being a binary trans man, which does happen to be my label and where I have found my pride. If you don't see yourself in films about trans men, don't give up! See if you recognise yourself in Pariah. There are certainly many warnings which apply to this film. Another AG is sexually harassed by older men (as Alike's father watches without comment), Alike faces merciless bullying and eventual physical abuse by her mother, and a minor character struggles with internalised lesbophobia. The phrase "he-she dyke" is used to attack a masculine-presenting lesbian. Regardless, this is a beautiful and profoundly important film. You just need to prepare yourself before watching.
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. Tomboy is the beginning of Mickaël's story, not the end; a glimpse into the kind of childhood that many LGBT+ people experience. Mickaël is played by Zoé Héran, a white French actress.
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.
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! Gavin Crawford, the white actor who plays the trans male protagonist, is a cis man. Not ideal, but better than a cis actress... 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. There is a happy ending!
Jake Graf films
Brace (2015). The main character of this short film is Adam, played by Jake Graf himself (he is a white, English trans man). After transitioning, he comes out as gay and breaks up with his girlfriend, resulting in homophobic harassment from his father. He meets another trans man, named Rocky (played by cis male actor Harry Rundle), and they begin dating, both unaware that the other man is FTM. The pair face some pretty horrific instances of homophobic abuse, including a beating that leaves Rocky hospitalised, where he is outed as trans to Adam. When Rocky discovers that Adam is trans as well, he gets very angry and ends the relationship due to his own internalised shame and trauma. This is an even harder film to watch than Dusk. I really wish we could get a sequel that features Adam in a happy, contented gay relationship. Dusk (2017). This film is the story of an elderly trans man named Chris, who narrates while his life story is played out onscreen. Childhood experiences of bullying, exclusion, and transphobia are followed by a romance with a cis woman named Julie. Unfortunately, Chris and Julie are set upon by a gang of harassers, who sexually harass and brutally beat Julie. Chris is denied admission to the hospital by bigoted nursing staff. Real events from Chris’ life with his partner are compared to how they would’ve played out if he’d been a cis man; his partner’s parents don’t accept him, strangers consider them a threat to children, and their relationship comes under strain. There is ultimately a happy ending, but it’s still a tough watch. Chris binds with bandages, which I didn’t like, but it did make sense considering the historical context. I would’ve appreciated a note from Graf, before or after the film, acknowledging the dangers of bandage binding. Headspace (2017). This is a series of scenes showing adult trans people struggling during everyday situations. Laith Ashley, a trans male model, plays a trans man who is afraid of undressing in the men's locker room. Kieran Moloney, a trans male expat, plays a trans man who deals with bathroom inaccessibility. Jake Graf plays a dysphoric trans man trying to access gynaecological services. Listen (2019). Trans youths, including trans boys, deal with bullying and harassment in schooling and domestic situations. Issues including self-harm, dysphoria, mental illness, bathroom inaccessibility, and disordered eating are addressed.
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 white 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.
Brother X (2018)
Brother X is a short film about internalised transphobia, lashing out at others due to inner turmoil, and being in denial. A trans man (played by Elliot Fletcher) is misgendered and deadnamed by his closeted sibling, who secretly presents femininely when in the company of their accepting girlfriend. The shame of their own identity leads them to mock their brother but, after personally encountering transphobic harassment, they at least attempt to have a conversation with him. The film ultimately ends on an unfinished, open note, with no apologies offered for the earlier misgendering/deadnaming. But it’s a good short film that shows how self-hatred can manifest, and that even gender-diverse people can act in toxic ways.
The trans director of Adam tried to cram as many trans actors into this film as he could but, 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, to the extent that he uses a prosthetic dick and makes up a fake backstory for himself. 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 (a trans male actor) forward in his career. Plus, he's just... really hot. One thing I really, really hated, was the use of slurs. Main characters cheerfully call a young trans man a “little faggot” behind his back, and a woman uses the slur “tranny” without checking that a trans man would be okay with that term. It was awful. 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, especially considering how awful the source material (a book) originally was. He did his best to polish a turd, but the result was still a turd. I would love to see a film made by the same director, as he is evidently very good at seeking out trans talent and at filmmaking in general.
This is a coming-of-age body horror short film starring Rhys Fehrenbacher (a white trans actor) as a trans teenager who struggles with bullying and gender dysphoria. It was a pleasure to see Fehrenbacher onscreen, as the first time I saw him in a film was the movie They (2017), which sacrificed good acting for a poor script and bad directing. Skin was much more interesting, and really allowed Fehrenbacher to take up space. Before watching this, you ought to be aware that Skin includes gore/blood, dead animals, transphobia from antagonistic characters, and sexual harassment from the trans student's fellow pupils. I really liked a conversation between the trans protagonist and their mother, which was gentle and loving. The protagonist's gender and pronouns are never stated outright, so this could easily be a short film about a trans boy or a non-binary youth.
This is a sweet coming-of-age film, featuring a young white 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, to the extent that he runs away with Joe when the boy insists on it. He also struggles to manage his bipolar disorder, which is an arc depicted with great sensitivity. Joe, the trans boy, is called the d-slur by a cis boy who harasses him for trying on boy's clothes in a store. Beyond that, there are no scenes of transphobic violence or assault. Joe's mother isn't accepting of her son, and her mindset is very realistic to how many real-life mothers treat their trans sons. One of my favourite scenes in this movie is when Joe simply watches his father, and other adult men, bowling together. He's spellbound and delighted by their masculinity. I adored seeing average-looking, average-bodied men being depicted as the object of a trans boy's fascination and gender euphoria, because I have felt that way too, and it's healthy to see normal bodies adored in an age of perfectly-sculpted celebrities and high standards. It felt like a celebration of typical men, finding the beauty in masculinity. I really cherished that scene.
For my full review, see the link below. 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 in a deaf role, but they did not 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 (Yiana Pandelis), especially considering the filmmaker’s claims of diverse casting... in 2020. The FTM character (Finn) is deadnamed twice and misgendered once, but the film overall is not cruel or exploitative. There is a bittersweet ending. WARNING: This movie includes unsafe binding.
Between Us (2021)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: “Kei, a transgender man, longs for a quiet, "normal" life in rural Japan, but his partner prefers the freedom and openness of life in Tokyo. Their opposing wishes and identities are revealed in the heat of the local hot springs, a place Kei loved as a child.” From what I have been able to read, Kei is played by Sho Kadota, a trans man, and his partner Erin is played by non-binary person Kai Pacey.
Make Me A King (2021)
NOT YET WATCHED. The plot is as follows: "Ari performs as a Jewish Drag King, much to the confusion of their family. Idolising real-life hero, Pepi Littman, who carved out a space for Drag Kings over 100 years ago, they use this history to open up a space for acceptance in the present." It sounds awesome, although I'm wary of the clasp binder shown in the trailer.
Overall, this film isn't nearly as bad as the internet's knee-jerk reaction would suggest, even if I did predict the killer's identity very quickly. Memes comparing it to Morbius, in terms of quality, are unfair. I say that because They/Them tackles some seriously impactful subjects and does so successfully, even if the cheesier scenes do prompt the occasional eye-roll. Potential viewers should be aware that They/Them is set in a conversion camp and the filmmakers, to their credit, did not at all minimise the horrific reality of anti-gay conversion torture. Some of the most confronting scenes in this movie include the forced outing and misgendering/deadnaming of a trans woman, the electroshock torture of a gay man following him being tricked into sex, and the sexual harassment of a lesbian by a female camp leader. The camp therapist is a cruel and accurate portrayal of transphobic/lesbophobic cishet women who use a twisted combination of anti-lesbian and anti-trans bigotry to insist that AFAB trans people are just deluded lesbians. In an awful so-called therapy session, the therapist uses the d-slur to psychologically torment Jordan, a non-binary person who has been forced to attend the camp by their parents. I've provided a link below to a video review where members of the trans community criticise the film as being very, very bad. Personally, I don't think They/Them is that bad. It's confronting, as it ought to be if LGBT+ conversion therapy is being realistically tackled, and it's cheesy... but I have watched plenty of cishet slasher films that are much worse. As someone who experiences second-hand embarrassment and hates Pink, I had to mute a scene where the LGBT+ camp attendees sing Fucking Perfect and launch into an impromptu dance session. However, I did appreciate the characters' joy and unity, and how much that positivity irritated the camp leader. Given Pink's history of glorifying abuse (the film clip for Please Don't Leave Me is horrific), I wish the filmmakers had chosen a different artist for this moment of cheer. But I know some people love Pink, so whatever. All in all, this movie isn't as bad as the internet led me to believe it would be. However, filmmakers definitely chose the wrong ending, and the dramatic pacing was off.
Joy Ride (2023)
NOT YET WATCHED. Sabrina Wu, an actor who describes themself as transmasc, gender non-conforming, and non-binary, stars in Joy Ride as a non-binary character named Deadeye. Deadeye is canonically trans and also uses they/them pronouns but, according to Wu's interview with Variety (accessible via the link below) they asked that Deadeye not have a coming-out scene. Instead, reportedly, Deadeye's gender is normalised as an average, everyday character trait, rather than the focus of a plotline. I like the sound of that! And this looks like fun, good representation. Before you watch the trailer, please know that it features hard drug use and a racial slur against Asian people. (Hilariously, though, the girl targeted with the slur immediately punches the racist kid in the face.)
Summer Solstice (2023)
NOT YET WATCHED. The synopsis is as follows: "Leo, a trans man, and his cis and straight friend, Eleanor, go away for an impromptu weekend trip, during which they uncover old secrets, new challenges, and find the answer to the age-old question: can bad sex and good friends mix?" Leo is played by white non-binary actor Bobbi Salvör Menuez.
When I found out that the protagonist of this film (Tosiek) is played by a model, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve got nothing against Alin Szewczyk, who themself is non-binary, but too much of this movie is a cross between a film clip and a modelling reel. It has almost no substance beyond looking pretty. One scene is simply the thin, androgynous protagonist scrolling through Instagram and looking at thin, androgynous models while his thin peers take selfies at their lockers. It's very boring very quickly. There is no body diversity or alternative expressions of androgyny. Too many scenes look like they were filmed on a runway, or as part of a fashion line promotion. It’s hard to believe the characters are average schoolkids when they’re so idealistically beautiful and professionally styled. A bigger issue is the fact that Tosiek is utterly unlikeable, and much of the story involves him reaping what he sows. Not all trans characters have to be likeable, but with Tosiek being thoroughly dissatisfying and the writing equally so, it's hard to find a reason to watch Fanfic at all. The film opens with him vomiting in a school toilet (a particularly gross scene), after which viewers find out that he has been stealing and irregularly taking Sertraline, yet he somehow doesn't connect his symptoms with the fact that he has been abusing prescription medication and exceeding dosage limits. His nausea and mood swings must be everyone else's fault, not his own. He is cruel and dismissive towards a classmate who is openly supportive of both his gender identity and his fanfiction, causing her to abandon and bully him. He mistakes occasional flirting for consent, and abruptly kisses a cis boy without asking first. He steals a classmate's bike, causing the classmate's abusive father to become angry. Determined to demonise a cis gay boy, he physically assaults him and hurts him quite severely. In all things, he is forgiven. His conflicts are magically resolved without the need for humility or apologies, certainly from his end. I liked five things about this film. One, the casting of a trans actor, despite the overall quality of the movie. Two, the dad's involvement, particularly a scene where he shows Tosiek footage from his childhood and finally becomes supportive. Three, a scene where Tosiek affirms himself through open chest binding, which is a huge step forward from bandage binding in films. Four, a scene where Tosiek and a classmate lay together, comprising the only convincing manifestation of the film's promised "intense connection" between them. Five, Tosiek's gender euphoria when putting on a boy's clothes, which is similar to what happened to me. Therein ends my positive experience with this movie. I'm not even sure why it's called Fanfic. The film is at its best when it is trying (not always successfully) to flesh out Tosiek beyond the limits of his fanfiction imaginings. I get it, Tosiek affirms himself through fantasies, where he can be as androgynous and masculine as he wishes. But most of the movie isn't about fanfiction. It certainly doesn't warrant occupying the film's title. The scene which sums up this movie's issues features Tosiek eating a bowl of noodles while a boy cuts his hair. Oh-so aesthetically pleasing, sure, but he was definitely munching on noodles with a side of hair clippings. Yum. This film is more concerned with looking nice than being real. This is ultimately just one trans bloke's review, and I'm sure many people enjoy this movie, so take my opinions with as big a grain of salt as you wish.
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.
The Last of Us Part II (2020)
NOT YET PLAYED. A trans actor (Ian Alexander) was cast in the role of Lev, a trans boy who has been cast out of his own community for being trans and rejecting female roles.
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.