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5 inspiring documentaries about trans women to stream on Netflix

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I don’t think it’s any secret that I watch a lot of films but I’ve never really been into documentaries, mostly because a lot of them don’t have happy endings.

However, in tribute to Netflix’s early release of The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (a Stonewall icon), I’ve compiled a list of inspiring ones about trans women with no sad endings.

Please consider this your spoiler warning.

Growing Up Coy (2016)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2GxjSuF7Ag

All Coy Mathis wanted to do was pee. So when her school said that she would either have to use the boys’ bathroom or the nurse’s bathroom, her parents (Jeremy and Kathryn) went to bat for her.

This documentary follows the family’s fight for Coy’s rights, which involved pulling all the Mathis children out of school, filing a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (with help from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund), and engaging with the media in order to get public opinion behind them.

While the Colorado Civil Rights Division eventually found in favor of letting trans people use the public facilities that match their gender identity, the media attention took its toll on the family, with some people accusing Coy’s parents of being fame-hungry or even child abusers for loving their daughter unconditionally and standing up for her.

Kumu Hina (2014)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDaAoYZUlUA

This documentary captures a year in the life of Hina Wong-Kalu, a Native Hawaiian kumu (teacher) and activist, focusing on her work with children, her long-term relationship, and her spiritual journey.

Hina is a trans woman and mahu, which means she embodies both the male and female spirit.

During the year, Hina goes up into the mountains to meet with her elders, the traditional third gender people, to seek spiritual guidance and also helps a student who feels like they may also be transgender or nonbinary to live their best life.

 

Made in Bangkok (2015)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT8OzopfKCs

Morgana, a Mexican opera singer, wants to get gender confirmation surgery but the cost (at $10,000) is far beyond what she can afford. She enters a beauty pageant to win the money but when the film’s director fears she won’t win, he intervenes to ensure that Morgana can get the operation after all.

We travel with Morgana to meet Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon, a specialist in gender confirmation surgeries in Thailand, who does the operation for free.

Laerte-se (2017)        

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XruSkaEMPog

Laerte Coutinho, one of the most well known cartoonists in Brazil, came out as a trans woman in 2010 at the age of 58. Laerte also used her fame to become a strident advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in Brazil, noting that many trans women face heavy prejudice there.

This documentary focuses on Laerte’s journey to find out what it means to her to be a woman, including whether she should change her birth name or get top surgery or gender confirmation surgery.*

*Of course, these choices do not determine whether you are a woman or not; trans women who can’t afford to or don’t want to change their name or have surgery are just as valid as those who do. This is all about Laerte’s personal feelings.

 

The Pearl of Africa (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RG6_vZEXwQ

This documentary web series follows Cleopatra Kambugu, who faces a constant battle to be herself in the transphobic environment of Uganda. Still, she fights on, determined to change how LGBTQ+ people are treated in Africa and how Africa is seen across the world.

Outed by a Ugandan tabloid in 2014, Cleopatra was forced to leave Uganda with her partner Nelson in order to avoid transphobic violence that is mostly ignored/encouraged by the government. They now live in Kenya, where Cleopatra works for an LGBTQ+ organization.

 

*Disclaimer: All of these movies were available on Netflix US as of September 15th 2017. If they aren’t available on Netflix in your country, then maybe a quick Google search can show you how to get onto the US site (but you didn’t hear it from me).

So what did you think of my list? Which ones have you already seen? Which are you adding to your Netflix queue? Are there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

Originally posted 2017-09-28 21:07:40.

Emma is a queer British freelance writer specializing in politics, travel, and entertainment. Barack Obama (yes, that one) follows her on Twitter and she’s never been sure why. She takes her coffee seriously and wears odd socks because life’s too short.

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Danica Roem Earns Seat in Virginia’s State Legislature

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I’ve previously written about Danica Roem and how she, a transgender woman, made history by winning Virginia’s Democratic primary in June. She’s done it again! On November 7th, Roem defeated Bob Marshall, a man who once referred to himself as “chief homophobe,” in Virginia’s House of Delegates election.

Who is Danica Roem?

Danica Roem was born in 1984 at Prince William Hospital in Manassas and went to Catholic school for thirteen years of her life. She attended St. Bonaventure University where she majored in journalism. She graduated in 2006 and reported for the Gainesville Times and eventually for the Prince William Times. Danica also wrote about schools, development, business, and transportation. In 2012, she started her transition and in December of 2013, she began hormone replacement therapy. Her name changed occurred in 2015 and her coworkers were supportive of her. She was eventually hired as the news editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel in Rockville Maryland, where she worked from August 2015 until the end of 2016. After, she left her position at the newspaper to run for office.

A major victory for trans rights

By defeating long-standing Republican and firm social conservative Bob Marshall, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender official to be elected in Virginia and made history by being the first transgender person to be seated in a state legislature. This is a huge step for LGBTQ rights, as transgender individuals are heavily discriminated against in many forms, such as workplace discrimination and discrimination in regard to using public bathrooms. By electing Roem and ousting Marshall, Virginia, a traditionally conservative state, is showing that more and more Virginians are moving toward positive change.

So who exactly is Bob Marshall, the man that Roem defeated? Marshall was elected to the House of Delegates in the early 1990s and has run and won every single election until this year. He authored Virginia’s 2006 “One man, one woman” bill that supports the idea that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman, is anti-abortion and opposes tax funding of Planned Parenthood, purposely uses disingenuous language to undermine the struggles of the LGBTQ community, is against gay men from serving in Virginia’s National Guard because he believes that there would be an increase in the spreading of STDs, and is in favor of legal discrimination against LGBTQ people. He is very clearly anti-LGBTQ and holds views that go counter to the direction that this country is heading in.

A way forward for Virginians

In contrast, Roem is in favor of raising the minimum wage in Virginia, making preschool more accessible, vows to increase teacher pay, wants to decrease bullying and discrimination in schools and promises to create a more inclusive Virginia by making sure people do not get singled out based on sexual orientation, race, gender, or disability. Her experience as a journalist helped her gain excellent listening skills. Because of that, Roem is able to listen to the residents of Prince William County and help achieve what needs to be done. According to her bio page, she promises to tackle public issues the way she wrote news stories: by researching, questioning, listening, and reporting. By electing her, the residents of Virginia showed that they were tired of Marshall’s antiquated (and frankly) bigoted views and wanted a real change. Bob Marshall won fourteen consecutive general elections which definitely displayed Virginia’s views but this year created a huge change. In the wake of all of the tension within the United States government, Danica Roem offers a much-needed and refreshing perspective on how people view transgender people. Hopefully, this will be a crucial catalyst in the fight for transgender and LGBTQ rights and an important stepping stone in the fight for equality.  

Originally posted 2017-11-14 15:36:41.

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Salem, MA: Connecting Queer History with our Queer Present

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Salem, Massachusetts is a city steeped in a rich, tragic history. Rather than shy away from the crimes and hysteria that made the city infamous, Salem has embraced the tragedy that plagued it that one summer in 1692, and has since committed itself to helping visitors learn from their ancestors’ mistakes.

The History of Salem

Salem was founded by Puritans from England in 1626. Originally split into Salem Town and Salem Village, the city had a clear distinction between the upper and lower classes, which was a huge factor in the mass hysteria that swept over the city in 1692.

The witch hunts that overtook Salem began when higher class girls accused lower class women of being witches and consorting with the devil. The accused women were helpless in numerous ways; their families had no money to pay for them to get out of jail, and there was a general and deep-seated distrust of the lower class, mixed with pervasive sexism. Low class women were already a disliked minority. When the accusations began, they became a hated minority.

The trials ended when the governor’s wife was accused of being a witch. Thus, the attitude towards the witch hunts changed completely. It was all right when a low class woman was accused because she could not defend or save herself, and it made sense that someone so low would betray their town and their religion by making deals with the devil. A higher class woman had the power to alter the conversation around the witch trials and ultimately bring them to an end.

Outcasts Unite

It’s no secret that Salem has a very queer history. That one odd summer put the city on the map as a home for the marginalized and the outcast, and therefore serves as a safe haven for minorities–especially the LGBT+ community–even today. Rainbow flags hang from every other store and restaurant window, and citizens walk comfortably in all manner of dress and costume.

The atmosphere in Salem makes it an extremely comforting place to live and visit. There is a complete lack of judgement that directly counters the city’s historical hysteria. What was once a place of fear has become a place of joy and acceptance.

We Are Not our Ancestors’ Mistakes

Since the trials, Salem has learned from their ancestors’ mistakes and have dedicated their city to educating tourists and natives alike about the dangers of mass hysteria and the susceptibility of minority groups. The constant message at the end of every historic tour or museum warns everyone to not let history repeat itself. Unchecked fear and distrust of minorities can only lead to the destruction of a town or city’s integrity.

Salem’s rich history and accepting atmosphere make it an amazing city to visit and learn more about the history of the oppressed. Share with someone you think will want to know more about the connection between Salem’s queer past and our queer present!

Originally posted 2017-10-31 19:24:41.

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The Innate Power of Travel: Benefits of Booking Your Next Getaway

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Traveling is an experience that can be collectively summed up in one word: Awesome.

Not only does everyone want it, but traveling is full of benefits that nourish every part of you- mind, body and soul. For many, travel is simply an aspiration, something that will happen someday. Due to the many advantages of it, travel should be prioritized as a necessity.

Traveling can help guide a wanderer or lost soul down the right path in life. When you travel, you’re met the the vastness of the world, and the realization of how small you are in it. If you’ve been feeling misguided lately, here are a few reasons to make travel a priority, if you haven’t already.

A Break in Schedule

When you’re away from home, you’ve cut all ties of your daily routines. This time leaves you with an independence that you don’t normally have. Use it. Traveling can pull you in directions that you may not have considered before, since you’re whisked away from your everyday normalcy. When your brain is replaying the same routine over and over, it can become dull. Take advantage of the break in schedule: How does it make you feel? What do you want to do most? What habits have you adopted during your time away?

Growth in decision making

When you’re traveling to a foreign place, you’re forced to put your best judgement forward and make on the spot decisions, and this helps you grow mentally. Whether it’s using the metro for the first time, hopping onto your connecting flight, or attempting to communicate in a foreign language, you are forced to rely on your knowledge and instincts. Whatever it is you’re doing, these lessons help you learn to take life one uncertainty at a time. With every step, you’re growing as you weave your way through your voyage. You’ll become more aware of yourself, too. As you view yourself from a 3rd perspective, take notes about yourself as person- what qualities have you let go of since you’ve been gone? Have you improved in certain areas? Lacked?

Human connectedness

When you’re around people of different cultural dynamics, there’s a deep understanding of humanity’s connection that happens. The paradigm of human connectedness, or as Lifehack reports, synchronicity and serendipity, becomes very distinguished during travel. Humans are connected through energy. This connection will foster, and fill you with a new appreciation for life. Since traveling is a permissive experience, you’ll acknowledge a new zest for life with every new experience that comes your way.

A trust in your senses

When you’re in unfamiliar territory, you’ll be able to explore life with more of your senses. You will master the know of how to act, who to trust, where to go. Follow your gut, your spirit, and most importantly, your heart. Within you, you find the answers to help discover a new, unfamiliar world.

Finding your inner self

We’ve all heard stories of running away to find your inner self. When you’re out in a place where you’re forced to be you, it becomes much easier for the real you to emerge. There are no need for masks and façades when you’re traveling; You are not at home, you aren’t being judged by the community around you, and you can let the compulsion of showing off who the world perceives you to be, go.

Allowing this freedom to envelop you will help you discover more about who you are. Your problems will seem minute. Those demons you’ve been battling within you the past couple months? Gone. Just like that. When you’re traveling, you recognize how very interstitial your world, and diversities, really are. Issues that originally seemed unforgivable seem to melt away with every scenic adventure.

A well-deserved rest

Your brain, like the rest of your body, needs rest. With how busy we are nowadays, it’s very easy to skip practicing mindfulness and giving your brain a well-deserved break. When you travel, your mind is able to enjoy a restful period of less stress, new discoveries and develop a deeper mental/spiritual connection with your body. Travel reduces stress as well as, surprise surprise, depression. Studies have shown that travel and emotional health are linked. If you’ve found yourself in a funk lately, embarking on a new travel-adventure will surely help you climb your way out of it.

When you’re trying to find meaning in your life, travel can certainly help point you towards the right direction. On your journey you will recognize the things that are most important to you. Take the snapshots, taste the cake, wake up the extra hour; The more memories the better. When you look back at these moments you’ll find that there was a purpose for each and every one.

Life is made up of many little adventures, but it’s up to you to make the most out of your destinations.

This article was originally posted on my personal blog.

Originally posted 2017-10-28 20:38:27.

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