MTV/LOGO documentary 'The T Word' is a triumphant must-see
The very idea of transgender is something many people cannot wrap their heads around, and to a degree, this is understandable. The fluidity of gender is a nuanced and complicated concept, so it is no wonder that it is easily brushed aside if one does not have to confront it directly.
While it may be comprehensible for people to view gender as merely a designation of birth given genitalia, that does not make it okay. Being transgender is not just an idea, but a reality lived by millions around the world. The LGBT movement has been making great strides increasing transgender visibility in media, but what it means to be trans still eludes most people. In 2014, ignorance about trans people remains the norm.
Laverne Cox, with the help of cable networks MTV and LOGO, seeks to change that. The prominent trans actress made famous by her Emmy-nominated work in the hit series "Orange Is the New Black" hosts the new documentary "The T Word," a humanizing look into the lives of seven trans youths of varying races, colors and creeds.
The documentary is a comprehensive look at their lives, both on a personal level and in the broader sense of a large community. By seamlessly blending personal stories of trans youths with statistics and facts about the trans community as a whole, "The T Word" is designed to explain what it means to be transgender to those who may not completely understand or are not aware of what life is like for trans people.
In a quick, engrossing 41 minutes, "The T Word" gracefully invites viewers into the world of incredibly brave young men and women who have gone to great lengths to become the people they are. Their unique hardships that come with being trans; intimacy issues, discrimination by school administrators, perpetration of violence against them for simply being who they are, are not shied away from. These are inescapable facts of trans life, but often they are what are believed to define it. Perhaps this documentary's greatest achievement is how unquestionably it proves that is just not true.
By allowing us into their lives, the documentary's subjects reveal that there lives are also full of profound beauty. They are proud people who have earned the right to be comfortable in their own skin and in fighting tooth and nail to make their lives better, they better the people around them. Even though the documentary is meant to inform and call attention to an important social issue, it is often heartwarming, charming, and even funny.
In the end, that is the point of "The T Word." The life of a trans youth is a complicated thing, but not solely because they are trans. Life itself is a weird powder keg of agony and ecstacy no matter who you are, a point explicitly made in the documentary's final moments. The documentary wants viewers to take away a lot about what being transgender is and how it affects people's lives, but most importantly, it makes the case loudly and clearly that trans people are just like you. They are not strange, nor are they strangers.
They are normal people, living their truth.
You can watch the complete documentary on MTV.com here.
You can reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel.