Trans in America: A Documentary Series from the ACLU

Kai Shappley at age 6

Trans in America is a series of three short documentaries from the ACLU. You can watch all three on the ACLU site or on YouTube.

All three of the films are about transgender women, although one has transgender men among the main character’s friends. The ACLU site states, “Each film is directed by an LGBTQ+ filmmaker, produced by an inclusive and majority-LGBTQ+ production team, and informed by a panel of transgender advisors.”

Kai Shappley: A Trans Girl Growing Up In Texas

Kai Shappley: A Trans Girl Growing Up In Texas is about a 7 year old transgender girl living in Texas. Her mother tells much of Kai’s story, but Kai is very articulate about her own situation, too. The family has dealt with religious issues, discrimination from the schools, and the Texas bathroom bill law that impacts Kai negatively.

Kai is lucky, even though she’s in a hostile state like Texas, because she has a supportive mother who stands beside her.

Eisha Love: A Trans Woman of Color in Chicago

Eisha Love: A Trans Woman of Color in Chicago examines how mistreated trans women color are by the justice system. Eisha was jailed after defending herself from an attack. She was put in a men’s prison. Now freed, she struggles to find employment as a trans woman with a criminal record.

Eisha has trans male friends. The discussions they have about dealing with both racism and their transgender status are moving.

The close captions for this film are terrible. Whatever automatic system was used does not deal well with Black English. I hope the producers will provide an accurate transcript immediately for this film.

Jennifer Chavez: A Trans Woman Working in a Male-Dominated Industry

Jennifer Chavez: A Trans Woman Working in a Male-Dominated Industry is about an auto mechanic who didn’t publicly transition until she was 51. Since then she’s faced job discrimination and serious financial issues, as well as rejection from her family and friends.

The emphasis in these films from the ACLU is civil rights, but many more issues naturally come into the conversation with the three people featured.

I commend the ACLU for supporting work like this and hope they continue to find individuals to feature in short documentaries, including trans men. Having information like this freely available can only help people to better understand transgender individuals and the systemic cultural and judicial obstacles they face. #TransRightsAreHumanRights

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