The normative gender binary is broken down in transparent, a documentary about 19 female-to-male transgender individuals living in the United States who have given birth and, in all but a few stories, gone on to raise their biological children.
transparent focuses on its subjects’ lives as parents, revealing the diverse and personal ways in which each parent reconciles giving birth and his masculine identity. Traditional views of gender are further re-examined through the variety of genders the children use to conceive of their parents. The first-person stories in Jules Rosskam’s in-depth documentary explain how changing genders is dealt with and impacts relationships within families.
On the surface, this is a story about the perceived anomaly of transgender parents. However, the film’s true stories are those of typical parents, regardless of gender, as they deal with issues like single parenthood, teen pregnancy, and their children’s emotional and physical development. Through these extraordinary men, the film challenges the ways that people relate to one another, particularly within our immediate families, based on gender.
Reviews and Awards
“…the film certainly makes the case for better understanding and acceptance of transitioned and transitioning people–and all individuals, really…an important platform for considering or discussing issues of gender—especially society’s expected gender roles and conformity issues as well as the treatment of ‘non-traditional’ families…transparent is recommended for libraries and other institutions that have a strong gender studies curricula or audience, and is indeed recommended for audiences that might question the appropriateness of transgendered people’s ability to parent. RECOMMENDED” — EMRO (Educational Media Reviews Online)
“transparent is an extremely important contribution to our knowledge about the lives of transgender people. By dedicating a film to this almost invisible group of FTMs who have given birth, this documentary not only speaks to the broad experiences of the trans community but also provides a fresh angle on the complications about any assumptions concerning genders, sexualities, motherhood, parenting, and identity construction. The mothers/parents/fathers Rosskam interviews share their unique perspectives of their experiences with pregnancy, motherhood, and parenting; their stories vary widely, and Rosskam foregrounds the contradictions in their accounts rather than, as most documentary makers do, editing to achieve a unified narrative.” — Jillana Enteen, Associate Director & Director of Undergraduate Studies, Gender Studies Program, Northwestern University
“transparent puts not just one face but 19 different faces on the issues of transgender lives, rights, and relationships. By showcasing so many perspectives on a specific and complex issue, the movie works as an outsider’s introduction to transgender experiences but it speaks just as smartly to the conversations, debates, and diversity among these engaging, articulate men. An expansive, moving, witty, and unique film.” — Nick Davis, Department of English / Gender Studies Program, Northwestern University