by Jude Samson
Some may be famous celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox while others may have paved the way for many of us like Caroline Cossey while still others fight for us on the front lines like Shane Ortega or pound the pavement crying out for equality like Bamby Salcedo or breaking through sexuality like Buck Angel. Regardless, it’s important to realize our visibility has come at a cost; a cost that some have paid more than others. Photographer/director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders helms this one-hour HBO documentary with Janet Mock narrating called “The Trans List.”
Over the span of an hour, we are introduced to various transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people who have their own unique stories, yet similar themes run through them. Tales of fighting against society, against politics, or even against themselves. Each segment is so powerfully enlightening that you find yourself thoroughly entranced by the stories being conveyed. It is almost jolting to fade out and then into the next person because, in those brief few minutes, you’ve somehow already become invested with that person and their story. It’s very likely because we are all on similar paths, have faced similar questions or hardships. Each person speaks so genuinely, a few even fight back tears as they bare their souls for us to see that we cannot help but feel united with them.
Kylar Broadus is the first one to share his story of childhood, sharing time on the road with his father, learning that sexuality and gender were not the same, and how he eventually came to fight for us as a lawyer.
Caroline Cossey shares her enthralling story. She had an immensely interesting life as a model in several famous and wide-spread campaigns and was even in a James Bond film. That film, however, wound up outing her during a time when almost no one even knew what “transgender”was. Her story is too grand for the mere moments in this documentary and she is definitely a genuine trans icon worth learning more about.
Amos Mac is a photographer who helped create the Original Plumbing magazine. Amos discusses his childhood and some of the unhealthy outlets he stumbled into before finding his true calling with Original Plumbing.
Bamby Salcedo is a Latina activist with a long tale of a colorful life of hardship and beauty. She also brings to light that the trans community is too far behind the LGB community and that the LGB community sometimes forgets we are here and need equality too.
Buck Angel is famous among the adult entertainment industry. He broke barriers by embracing his gender and his sexuality and fought an uphill battle to do it. Buck shares inspiration and tears but gives us great hope for ourselves.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy weaves a sassy glimpse into her life from having been at Stonewall during the riots to her time behind bars and her life up to today. One cannot help but want to sit back and listen to what must be an amazing history of herself and the world around her through the years.
Nicole Maines was young when she began her transition and when her local school tried to hassle her over the bathroom she would use, her family forged together and fought a long battle that led to a landmark victory. She is a young adult with great strength and wisdom that clearly comes across in her segment.
Shane Ortega has fought for us all in the U.S. Army and has made a remarkable transition while also fighting against the military’s current policies. Despite Shane’s transition, the military still requires him to present as a female under specific occasions as he explains in his segment that illustrates how far we still need to go towards equality and justice.
Caitlyn Jenner nears the end of the documentary and it’s nearly impossible not to know who she is at this point. Despite many in the community being upset with her for numerous reasons, she presents her own unique outlook on life and what being trans means to her.
Alok Vaid-Menon is a beautiful soul that brings a kaleidoscope of gender, fluidity, and culture to they’re segment. They command words and express themselves in such an elegant way that you cannot help but sit on the edge of your seat waiting to hear more about their life and how the Indian culture one accepted various genders and how society has enforced narrow views.
Laverne Cox – most famous for her role on Orange is the New Black rounds out the documentary with a beautiful closing piece discussing her life, the support of her mother, and the moment she made history to become nominated for an Emmy along with the path to get there.
Whether you’re in the TGNC community or not, this is a beautiful documentary about people. People from all walks of life, cultures, hardships, comforts, races, sexualities, and genders. It is a true melting pot of people and for those within the TGNC community, these are our own stories.