2 min

A mosaic of identities

A new road-trip film explores the trans experience

A still from Mosaic, in which Markus (interview subject with no last name) is about to board the bus in Toronto and begin his trip. Credit: Markus

Securing housing can be particularly complex for trans youth; they’re disproportionately represented among the homeless population by a huge margin. But Mosaic began with one such youth turning a bad situation into opportunity. The film tells the story of Markus, a kid who used his lack of housing as a chance to travel across the continent, learning more about himself and his community. Armed with not much more than a few dollars and some art supplies, he floats between Toronto, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Orlando, Houston and San Francisco, crashing on couches and documenting his journeys.

How did the process start?

It was early in the morning. I had just realized that where I was staying (above a bike shop in Kensington) was no longer safe and that I’d have to move out. I’d been out all night with some friends and my head was spinning with our conversations. I kept wondering to myself, “What does it mean for me to be trans? What does it even mean to have a gender? What do other trans people feel — is it the same? How could I find out?” I called up my buddy Daniel Teagle, who later became our film assistant, and we brainstormed what this project might look like. I’d been wanting to do some travelling anyways, since I had some buds in California I wanted to visit, so I put out a blog post to see if anyone in the USA would be interested in putting me up and doing interviews. I got a huge amount of responses, which was amazing. I drafted up a plan during that week, did some preliminary interviews, and within the month I was taking off! I left with about $400 in my pocket, a loose idea of how I was planning to travel, and a bus ticket to New York.

Why did you feel this film was important to make?

The film gives us a chance to highlight how transgender people have so many variant identities and experiences. It’s trying to recognize our diversity, showing how trans folks can come from any walk of life and explore the intersectionality of our identities. It’s also trying to challenge the oppression which exists within our own trans communities, calling out trans people for policing other trans people for being trans in the wrong way or trans folks being racist, sexist and ablest towards each other. Finally, it’s a chance to celebrate our stories and learn from other trans people about how wise, resilient, creative, fantastic and fabulous we can be.