Cinema Diverse! The Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Trans : a documentary about transboys (2014) by Nathalie Cools

“An extraordinarily honest and taboo breaking sketch of an issue our society still isn't familiar with.”

"Trans : a documentary about transboys" by Belgian filmmaker Nathalie Cools is both a testimonial and a travelogue. It is a story that tells about the dramatic transition that people decide to go through if their biological sex does not match their gender identity. In this case, people who feel they should be male, but who were born with a female body.

The anonymous testimonials in the film focus on the medical aspects of a transition. These aspects are clearly explained by the different physicians and serenely shot by the filmmaker. They contain the right terminology, without falling into too detailed or technical descriptions.

The personal note is ensured by the testimonial of Yann. The story of his transition is plainly powerful and natural. Self-assured he reflects on what he has been through, the demons he fought. He has found himself a good way to deal with his gender identity.

With her interview technique Nathalie Cools clearly focuses on the main character Yann. This creates an atmosphere of trust. The question of the personal motivation of the filmmaker herself remains unanswered.

"Trans" is by no means voyeuristic. On the contrary, it is an extraordinarily honest and taboo breaking sketch of an issue our society still isn't familiar with. The documentary does not ask for understanding, but rather shows understanding. An understanding that is necessary if we want to fathom the human condition and ultimately our own identity. "Trans" is thus a successful proof of sincere empathy.

("Trans" was screened on September 19, 2014 during The Palm Springs Gay & Lesbian Film Festival)

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