Film Analysis: Growing Up Trans

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The film, Growing Up Trans, was a great medium for me to better understand and reflect on gender socialization, gender identities, and countless variations within the transgender communities. Each child and his/her stories give the audience an insight to both the personal troubles of living as transgenders and the systemic errors of the society that intensifies these troubles.

Undoubtedly, the children in the film expressed their discomfort of being characterized as the deviants. Deviants are those who are perceived as outsiders and who violate what the society considers true and correct (Charon). In our society, heterosexuality and gender conformity – one’s gender identity matching one’s sexual identity – are considered the norm. Transgender
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Likewise, the film shows that transgenders are questioned for their existence. Some parents in the film indicated that they had hoped that “there would be another way” and that they did not understand why and how their children were gender-nonconforming. One of the parents portrayed a transgender life as “eternal death”. The film showed that even the closest people of these children complied to the concept of deviance and solidified the concept through their hostility towards the concept of transgender and their effort to bring their children back to the norm which in this case is gender conformation. It amazed me to see how strongly some parents felt about “preventing” their children from becoming the deviants. Burt Blanchard, father of John, was going to get divorced with his wife than to agree with her and approve his son to change his name legally from Giana to John. He was willing to give up his relationship with his family in order to have his child conform to gender normativity. His determination to not let his child change his gender made me think about how narrowly structured our concepts of “norm” is and…show more content…
This thought has never crossed my mind before because I, myself, took ‘gender’ as a natural phenomenon. Gender is a product of socialization. It is cultural roles and personality characteristics that are labeled appropriate for men and women (lecture). Gender facilitates normative accountability: “structures that are in place to “correct” people’s gender non-conforming behaviours” (Johnson). Normative accountability and gender expectations were big issues children in the film faced. These children were expected to perform certain actions and display specific personality traits based on their natal sex. Daniel’s mother says during her interview that “as soon as Daniel was able to express his preferences, he was gravitating towards boys’ sections, wanting to wear just boy t-shirts”. When I first watched the movie, I did not find anything extraordinary from her line. The second time, I became more critical. What defines “boy t-shirts”? What pieces of clothing are for boys and for girls? Alex and his friends also talk about how being a guy is “working out”, “not showing any emotions” and “not playing with gender”. Why are these traits correlated with masculinity? It is perceived odd for girls to display these characteristics. They are followed with labels such as lesbian, or tomboys. These traits should not be associated with one specific gender as these traits is as likely to be shown by

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