Finding Her Place
In the summer of 2015, former US Marine and world record weightlifter Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski was publicly outed as being transgender. The reaction was quick and universal: her sponsors abandoned her, she was disowned by her parents, banned from competing, and she changed her name to “Janae”. “Transformer” follows Janae as she attempts to find her place in society. Initially wanting to strip off the muscle and become a much smaller looking woman, she found herself unable to do so She now finds herself living one day as an alpha male and the next day as a delicate girl.
This is the story of the journey that Janae took to become her true identity and as told to us by filmmaker Michael Del Monte, it is an affectionate and uplifting documentary that captures it all without the sensationalism that we usually get with stories like these.
We learn that Janae has been struggling with gender identity since early childhood and attempted to start transitioning about eight times in the past decade. The public disclosure provided Janae with what was needed to finally start his journey in earnest.
Janae is a divorced father of three teenage boys who totally idolize him and to whom he came out too when they were just 4 and 6 years old. There is a scene in the movie of Janae is putting on her wig and makeup as the boys sit nearby watching TV and encouraging their father. (I do realize that the use of pronouns here is difficult and that I tend to switch back and forth).
The hormones Janae has been taking have radically altered her body and part of Janae’s dilemma is that she wants to continue to do weightlifting making her accept t the price she will pay as a 250 pound with muscles. Del Monte’s cameras follow her as she meets and consults with surgeons about making more changes to her body and when she presents herself as a female to her mother for the first time, and even being the judge for a Trans Weightlifting Competition. Acceptance from her friends, and especially all her training buddies, is unanimously supportive. It helps of course that Janae is charming. We see her vulnerability and is remarkably honest to us and to herself as well.
Janae seems to be the most unlikely person ever to undertake a journey like this and in such a public fashion, but we understand that as we watch this film, we take joy in her joyous spirit and bravery and we hope that her story will help others who are struggling with their own identity.