'Frontline: Growing Up Trans'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)
Overview: An intimate exploration of the struggles and choices facing transgender kids and their parents. Through moving, personal stories of children, parents and doctors, the film examines new medical interventions increasingly being offered at younger ages.
DVD Verdict: As much as 'Frontline: Growing Up Trans' was not my usual viewing cup o' tea, myself and my team watch everything that comes in with an open kind. Ergo, I took the viewing veins of this one, and wow, did it open my eyes to "trans" American, for sure.
Just a generation ago, it was adults, not kids, who changed genders. But today, many children are transitioning, too with new medical options, and at younger and younger ages. Growing Up Trans takes viewers on an intimate and eye-opening journey inside this new frontier where it's now possible for kids who feel they were born in the wrong body to never have to go through the puberty of their biological sex.
Told from the perspective of parents, doctors, and, most revealing of all, eight transgender kids themselves, ranging in ages from 9 to 19, 'Frontline: Growing Up Trans' takes a powerful look at this new generation, exploring the medical possibilities, struggles, and choices transgender kids and their families face today.
With extraordinary access to the gender program at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, filmmakers Miri Navasky and Karen O'Connor examine the complicated and often controversial treatments now available to gender non-conforming and transgender kids, and explore the deeply personal emotional issues many parents and families face.
Unlike a recent British version of this documentary, the children and their parents are very articulate here. Like a "disgendered youth", the trans youth here are incredibly tech-savvy and new technologies are giving them allies and information that trans individuals in the past would not have had.
I do have a concern, however. I think the articulate voices here are due to all the interviewees being middle or upper-class. The work never mentions who would pay for these drug treatments and operations. I am not convinced that conservative US medical regulators see these options as necessities. If you get what I mean, because you have kids also, they tend to have their own go-to language. This was, well, perhaps too formulated; too formalic. Regardless, 'Frontline: Growing Up Trans' is a show for you that if you ever had questions - to have answered by a TV screen, or questions to ask your own children - will work both ways for you (so to speak). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.