A Self-Made Man

2013 | Coming Out / Documentary / Gender / Transgender / Youth (18 & Under) | 56m | USA
Directors: Lori Petchers

At a crucial turning point in his life, Tony Ferriaolo’s inner voice said, “Create yourself.” This credo once saved his life and now serves as a guiding principle as he educates transgender youth, as well as their parents. Lori Petchers’ moving A Self-Made Man interweaves the poignant story of Ferraiolo’s personal transition with his life work as a transgender youth advocate. We watch Tony guide kids as young as eight through the confusing journey of defining themselves when challenged by a physical appearance that conflicts with their gender identity. At this time of quickening in transg awareness, younger and younger kids are declaring their gender identities, and families are struggling to adjust. Petchers highlights A Self-Made Man who is an endearing and inspiring guiding light for whole families to move forward together with love, empowerment, and compassion.

Reviews and Awards

“Lori Petchers’ uplifting and moving documentary centers on the life and work of Tony Ferraiolo, a certified transgender youth advocate and life coach working in New Haven, CT. A Self-Made Man alternates between Ferraiolo’s own story about being a transgender male and his remarkable support programs for teens and younger children with gender-identity issues. Charismatic, buoyant, and accessible, Ferraiolo is both a friend and an adviser to the kids who come to group meetings, which provide a safe place to hang out, share feelings, and (for the adolescents) receive nitty-gritty counseling.

Petchers captures warm and sometimes funny footage of these activities (younger participants often work on art projects, and talk about gender only if the subject comes up), as well as scenes of the parents’ support group in session. Along the way, Feraiolo discusses his own childhood experiences as a girl who knew she was a boy, followed by his later years as a dysfunctional woman who couldn't find purpose or happiness until making the decision to change. Petchers’ approach is honest, blunt, open, and consistently positive. Highly recommended.

—Video Librarian, 3 1/2 Stars

A Self-Made Man is a truly moving documentary that depicts a kind, passionate person working to better the well-being of young people. Tony is giving young people the opportunity to create themselves, as he once did himself.

—The Lancet, Vol. 2 May 2014