Palm Springs, Mountainfilm, Watch Docs, Sidewalk, Virginia, Nashville, Flyway, Guth Gafa, Salem, Frameline, Outfest, BFI Flare
A profile of several trans high school athletes.
Within the gender-segregated world of high school athletics, there are no universal rules about the rights of transgender competitors. Michael Barnett’s sympathetic film chronicles the wins and losses of three such athletes in Texas, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, each contending with rules whose fairness is called into question in one way or another. Texan wrestler Mack is forced to compete in the girls’ division, where he is undefeated, despite his desire to wrestle fellow boys, and receives the vitriol of cis gendered girls’ parents and others for the advantage testosterone affords him. Andraya, a sprinter, is allowed by Connecticut’s more equitable laws to compete against girls, but that doesn’t prevent angry adults from crying foul. In New Hampshire, Sarah, a competitive skier, becomes a transgender rights activist when her state’s laws requires her to have gender reassignment surgery in order to race in the girls’ category. Whether they want to or not, these teens have become public faces of the debate, simply for wanting to participate in the competitive sports their peers take for granted. For them, and their supportive parents, guardians, or coaches, the argument is a simple one – if their gender is to be respected, there cannot be any half-measures – while for their opponents, there are thorny questions of fairness due to physiological advantages or disadvantages of the athletes’ biological sex that cannot be dismissed solely as cut-and-tried transphobia (which also is clearly in evidence, of course). Barnett doesn’t fully explore these difficult quandaries, but his film offers an intimate look at the youth caught within the unfortunate dilemma.