Just in time to celebrate Transgender Awareness Month, HBO released 'Transhood,' The documentary film takes an intimate look at trans youth and their families in Kansas City, Missouri.
For five years, the in-depth film follows the lives of four children as they grow in their identity and face conflicts with family. Additionally, the show sheds some light on how American culture defines gender.
The intro to 'Transhood' proclaims: ‚ÄúEvery transgender journey is unique.‚Äù
This theme rings true throughout the film as each child shows off different personalities and goals. For example, 15-year-old Leena aspires to be a model and makeup artist. As Leena learns to face her family and first-love, she also experiences her personal goal of gender confirmation surgery when she turns 19.
"We're really not trying to change people's minds‚Äù Leena says. ‚ÄúWe just want them to understand our journey and respect us enough to allow us to do our own thing. You don't have to like us. We just want you to respect us.‚Äù
There‚Äôs also Jay, age 12, who recently started at a new school where no one knows he is trans. Later, Jay begins hormone blockers and while his mother is supportive of that step, they argue about their differing views around the very personal issue of disclosure.
¬†‚ÄúCutting my hair was one of the biggest things that happened to me through the transition because it made me feel like I am me,‚Äù he says. ‚ÄúI am Jay.‚Äù
At age seven is Avery, a trans tomboy with vibrant pink hair. She became the first trans person to grace¬†the cover of National Geographic, generating a big response‚Äîmostly support.
And finally, there‚Äôs Phoenix. Phoenix‚Äôs parents thought they had a boy, but at age 4, their child announced, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a girl-boy,‚Äù and wanted to wear dresses.
However, the film's praise does not come without opposition. Recently, the documentary received some serious backlash as claims of parents "brainwashing" their children. Some have even called for TV watchers to boycott the HBO network altogether.
The documentary and others before it aim to normalize trans youth experiences and conversations. While these kids have faced a range of challenges from severe bullying to damaged familal relationships, 'Transhood' gives other trans youth hope.