This is Transgender Awareness Week, a celebration of trans identities leading up to the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. In observance of this occasion, here are a few lesser-known films about trans subjects, mainly by trans filmmakers, that are easily available to stream.
Lingua Franca (2019)
Isabel Sandoval wrote, directed, and stars in this independent feature about an undocumented Filipino trans woman working as a caretaker for an elderly woman in Brighton Beach. Her romance with the woman’s grandson brings to the fore her anxieties about being exposed — on multiple levels. A well-observed work that delves into many social issues without being obvious or exploitative.
Strong Island (2017)
Director Yance Ford investigates the murder of his brother by a white man in this measured but potent documentary. No regular true crime film, this is a searingly personal attempt not just to grapple with the death of a family member, but also to pay tribute to their life. Ford became the first openly transgender director to be nominated for an Academy Award for this film.
A documentary on ball culture in New York City may draw inevitable comparisons to Paris Is Burning, but this 2016 film is very much doing its own thing. Both a joyous celebration of a vibrant subculture and a serious look at the material conditions of the people who participate in it, the film demonstrates how much has and hasn’t changed for voguing and drag since the 1990s.
Available on various platforms.
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