“There’s something about people that are treated as disposable, buying land that is viewed as worthless and making it into something valuable”. Greta
America in Transition describes itself as a ‘documentary series exploring relationships, community, and social issues with trans people of colour’. It certainly is this, and it works like a dream as the whole package comes with tangible heart.
The LGBTQ+ population are known for taking something run-down and making it desirable; anything from clothes to whole neighbourhoods have been known to revel in a ‘rainbow invasion’. Sadly though it was forgotten all too often, sometimes wilfully, that many of the people who made up the vanguard were trans people of colour.
“Every trans person deserves a life of dignity, justice and joy” states Nina, quite rightly, in the first episode of this insightful documentary series. A trans, brown immigrant hailing from India, Nina is subjected to a period of incarceration before being given the much-needed green card that allows her to stay in the USA with her devoted partner Greta. At this point we hear the chilling facts (cited in the film) that just 0.2% of detainees are trans, and yet 20% of sexual assault survivors in detainment camps are trans. If this does not hammer home the plight of trans immigrants, often fleeing other countries for their very lives, then I doubt anything will.
Together they cash in every penny they have and buy a 15 acre plot that they make habitable in the most inspiring fashion. We see undeniable evidence that necessity really is the mother of invention as ‘La Zorra’ California is born. Also known as ‘Sisterwood’, this trans oasis in the Mojave Desert is testament to us all that having a space we can call home is truly deserved for every human being, not least if you’re trans. Nina describes home as a place where there is a ‘lack of societal force’, and I find myself trying to high-five the screen.
In episode two, Dezjorn, a trans man with a successful career in modelling, is generous enough to share his story as he watches his Mother dying. In her last weeks, she makes every effort to understand and come to peace with her son in what was often a fraught relationship. The beautifully paced film takes you into another home where societal force is regarded with great suspicion, and is all the happier for it.
These documentaries are followed by a fair few more and are all worth your attention. With seventeen years experience in education under my belt, I can vouch that these documentaries would make for excellent teaching resources. The art of storytelling is the oldest and most profound method of effective communication that we have, and these films are at heart, excellent storytelling.
© Jezza Donovan 2019