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Gender Matters

Six short films about transgender & gender non-conforming youth adults.

 

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eddie

Quentin Kruger 2007 10 min. USA

"Jeez Eddie! Quit being such a girl. C'mon we got a kickball game going on by Danny's place!"

A narrative short, eddie tells the story of a young Latina girl who's just one of the boys and a VIP in the neighborhood kickball game. But on this particular afternoon, Eddie confronts her sexual and gender identities when an embarrassing moment forces her to step up to the plate.

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Tomboy

Donna Carter 1997 5 min. USA

From climbing trees to shooting hoops, Donna Carter's childhood and adolescence was all about smashing stereotypes and glass ceilings. In this experimental short, she explores how following her own dreams and instincts allowed her to become a college basketball star, sports writer, and the publisher of the first ever women-in-sports magazine.

Drawing on personal narrative, still photography and stop animation — Tomboy is an imaginative autobiographical account of an African American tomboy's journey to success and self-acceptance.

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The Bond

Michael T. Connell 2007 6 min. USA

"How could you raise a transsexual child and not know it?" In this honest and compassionate documentary, the father of a transsexual child shares his family's story — what it was like when his child came out, how their relationship has changed and how their bond continues to strengthen.

Made by a father for transgender individuals and their parents, The Bond offers hopeful answers to the hard questions parents face when a child — of any age — comes out.

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Just Call Me Kade

Sam Zolten 2001 26 min. USA

Kade is a sixteen year old FTM (female-to-male) transgender youth residing in Tucson, Arizona. Though Kade's parents are supportive and nurturing, it hasn't always been easy. As Kade entered puberty, he became depressed and frustrated with his changing female body and even considered suicide. Realizing that Kade's identity was more complex than being a tomboy or lesbian, he and his family sought support from their local LGBT community center and searched for resources on the internet.

This award-winning documentary follows Kade through two years of his transition process, highlighting important milestones including his name change, his first shots of testosterone, and his first girlfriend. Throughout the film, Kade's friends and family candidly express their feelings about the transition, the changes they see in him, and how their own lives have been transformed along with his.

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Bikini

Lasse Persson 2005 7 min. Sweden

An animated musical, Bikini stars a young boy, dolled up in his mother's yellow swimsuit, who is afraid to come out of the locker room. With the encouragement of a pair of happy twins he emerges, but their lady friend would rather receive all the attention herself.

Set to the classic 1960 song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," this short offers an entertaining take on finding the courage and acceptance to express one's gender with honesty and style.

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Two-Spirit People

Michel Beauchemin, Lori Levy & Gretchen Vogel 1991 20 min. USA

Two-Spirit People explores the berdache or "two-spirit" tradition in many Native American cultures, in which individuals who embody feminine and masculine qualities are understood as a third gender, beyond man and woman. In many communities, two-spirit people act as a conduit between the physical and spiritual world and because of these unique abilities, are often placed in positions of power within the community.

Told through powerful personal testimony, archival photos, and clips from Hollywood Westerns, this ground-breaking documentary — one of the first cultural works to revive the term "two-spirit" — offers a unique overview of historical and contemporary Native American concepts of gender, sexuality and sexual orientation.

Curriculum Guide Learning Objectives:

  • To understand the concepts of and be able to discuss the differences between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  • To evaluate cultural norms regarding gender roles and expectations, including differences in beliefs across cultures.

Sample Classroom Discussion Questions:

  • What happens to people who don't conform to society's expectations with regard to gender and sexuality? What are they called? How are they treated? Are expectations of gender conformity different for men and women? For example, is it more acceptable to be a "tomboy" than an effeminate young man? What does this say about the ways we value masculinity and femininity?
  • Many transgender individuals are beginning the transition process at increasingly younger ages. Although people do not choose their gender identity, transgender people do make certain choices, including when and how to come out, and whether or not to be an activist. Kade begins his transition process while still a teenager, while Michaela does not transition until well into adulthood. How does when they each transitioned make a difference in their lives? Do you think it is easier or more difficult to come out as transgender as a young person?
  • What do you know about Kade's or Michaela's sexual orientation? Based on the experiences of these two individuals, do you think gender identity and sexual orientation are linked or completely separate concepts? Why?
  • Describe the "Basket and the Bow" ritual featured in Two-Spirit People. Does your culture, religion, or family have any similar coming of age rites of passage (quinceañera, bat/bar mitzvah, prom)? Do these cultural events encourage gender choice or reinforce gender expectations? How?

Sample GSA Activities:

  • Review your GSA's name and mission to determine if you are inclusive of transgender and gender-nonconforming students. Edit your club's statement, constitution, bylaws, and other documents to include gender non-specific language. When you do an icebreaker or introduce new members, ask everyone to share their preferred gender pronoun — "he," "she," or "ze" (a gender neutral pronoun).

  • Start a campaign to educate others at your school about gender. Create posters and other visual media to raise awareness about transphobia and discrimination, or about notable transgender and gender variant people. Develop your own "Gender 101" or "How to be a Trans Ally" workshop, and offer it to other GSAs and local organizations. See GSA Network's Transgender Inclusivity in GSAs resource sheet for more ideas on how to make your GSA trans-inclusive.

film stillThe students enjoyed the films and had thoughtful reactions. Not all had given much thought to some of the issues presented.

Another staff member and I are planning to promote the DVD in a presentation to staff about issues of students' safety and prevention of bullying as it relates to LGBT students. We want to raise awareness about transgender teens, as we have at least one student we are aware of at our school who is navigating this issue. A fellow teacher who has a transgender student in his classroom has already watched the films and felt they were extremely helpful in his efforts to better identify with the experiences of this student and to be a better advocate for him. This student is not part of our GSA at this time, but we feel it's important to be proactive in educating our school community and preventing harassment and bullying.

—Donna, Teacher and GSA Advisor, San Luis Obispo County

 

film stillThe GSA had thoughtful reactions. The students really liked Bikini because it had a sense of humor and was able to convey the message about gender really clearly.

The Bond made quite an impression — they felt that there was a lot of emotion involved and that the father's struggles with accepting his "new" daughter and mourning the loss of his son were valid and raw; they were very moved by the film.

I definitely think teachers would be willing to show the films in their classrooms. They're short enough and get at matters quickly. I'm very happy to have the DVD — it's a great tool for conversation, entertainment and learning.

—Dania Sacks March, GSA Advisor, Downtown High School

 

film stillOur goals were to simply begin to look at alternative expressions of gender. I feel that we achieved that. We have now planned a poster campaign at our school to educate the school community about stereotypes and homophobia.

The short film Tomboy by Donna Carter was intriguing to the students, because it was creative and a easily understood topic. Also the students really enjoyed Bikini — they understood the message and enjoyed the creative aspect of it.

My students are all either African-American or Latino so I'm excited to screen movies that are representative of their experiences as young queer people of color. I'm very happy with this program and excited to use the Curriculum & Action guide!

—GSA Advisor

 

film stillI showed segments of Gender Matters to about 90 students in my 3 classes of Junior College Prep English. We read the memoir The Color of Water by James McBride, in which the author relates instances of intolerance he experienced being the only black student in a white school. I showed my students the segments eddie, Tomboy, and Bikini as they all dealt with the universal theme of discovering and becoming comfortable with your identity when you are different from those around you. In each class, students were entirely engaged in watching the films. There was some nervousness, but no negative reactions.

I'm extremely grateful for your program, the films, and the curriculum and action guides, which were particularly helpful in discussing the meaning of gender before viewing. Film is a powerful resource in the classroom, and students' media literacy is more developed and astute than many adults realize. These shorts make a topic that would be tricky to discuss so much more accessible through the narratives and media. Once they've had a chance to process what they've seen, we can connect what we've read to what we've viewed, and both to what we're witnessing and experiencing daily. All of that helps create a vibrant, stimulating environment in which I facilitate their sharing ideas with each other.

—Jan Speller, 10th/11th Grade English Teacher, GSA Advisor, El Camino High School, South San Francisco