Who Are Transgender People?
“Just Gender” looks at the world of transgender people through archival footage and stills and is by-and-large focused on interviews of transgender persons, their family members and friends, health care experts, community leaders and others who work with the transgender community. It looks at many of the common myths and misunderstandings about the transgender community and explores the confusion between sexual orientation and gender identity, as seen in the rigid binary view generally held by society. We look at discrimination, hardships and brutality that comes as a result of misconceptions and prejudices including the many deaths that are caused by hate each year. Directed by George Zuber, the film explains the whole transgender spectrum in a way that is easy to understand and is therefore quite enlightening and educative. Zuber made this in 2013 and since then the whole dialogue about the trans community has had a considerably higher public profile, much of information is still very current, important and relevant.
The film opens with a very heartbreaking story of a young transgender girl whose sad story is representative of trans women of color. She was rejected first by her school and then by her evangelical mother who told her to take her own life and if she refused to do so, her mother would commit suicide. She then joined the Navy and was sexually abused, then homeless and ultimately took a job as a prostitute. The rate of trans youth that commit suicide is as high as 41% and we see that there is a large proportion of unsolved murders of trans people that are unsolved.
We see how different people deal with varying degrees of some form or another of gender dysphoria. Bebe Neuwirth’s narration helps explore the diversity of persons under the large umbrella of transgender people, including cross dressers, gender questioning, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, and female-to-male and male-to-female transsexuals.
Alongside the explanations are the interviews of people who have been on the journey of acknowledging their true identity. No two situations are ever the same. How a individual chooses to present themselves and be authentic to their own identity is a personal issue, and in this is the main area that we as members of the larger society must learn to both understand much more and accept.
Even with the emphasis on intolerance, confusion and outright hatred, the film’s main message is one of the joy, happiness and complete fulfillment that is finally achieved by those who have embraced their own identity. Their stories give hope that others that follow may one day have a much easier time.