Ever wonder what it would be like to grow up with trans parents?
A new documentary film answers this question and more by bringing to life five diverse experiences of trans family relationships.
Directed by Rémy Huberdeau, Transgender Parents explores the challenges and joys of having and raising kids, moving through the different stages of parenthood and dealing with an often gender-focused healthcare system, all with the purpose of sharing these stories with a larger community.
“We are eager for there to be connections between the different communities of trans parents with children and trans kids. We also need allies to create space,” Huberdeau says. “When we look at [a relationship] between kids and parents, gender isn’t the most important dynamic. This film shows [the bond] between kids and trans parents and trans people relating to their kids, sharing their life experiences.”
In 2011, Huberdeau’s friend Jake Pyne was researching trans families through focus groups in the LGBTQ Parenting Network. The two teamed up to make a short film, Transforming Family, which is available online and has since become a valuable resource, having been translated into six languages and screened at universities and festivals around the world. Transgender Parents follows up on three of the short film’s stories and introduces us to two new cases. The stories are intimate and personal and expand the conversation on what a trans family can look like.
“A lot of films in the world are about transition, and there are not enough [about] life after the fact,” Huberdeau says. “For younger trans people, I hope this film can open up space around imagining our futures. Whenever there is a shockwave sent through a family, that becomes a moment of shattering farther apart or bringing people closer together. Transgender Parents shows the truth in these relationships, and it breaks that mundane life of daily details, of going through the motions.”
Huberdeau chose to focus mainly on older subjects. “The older generation faces unique challenges that the younger generation does not; the younger [ones] have more access to solutions and community, and I wanted the film to bring light and support the older community within our own community. We chose, as a team, to honour and centre older peoples’ experiences.”
Huberdeau would love to do another follow-up piece after this film to see how the world has changed from the present and to incorporate new people and their stories.
The experience of making Transgender Parents has allowed Huberdeau to imagine different possibilities for the future, “for my motivations as a trans filmmaker and also to make a film about life post-transition.” Looking forward, Huberdeau would like to explore the experiences of kids of trans parents, as well as trans children and youth and delve more into the history of how doctors managed trans people in the past, encouraging them to give up their families.
“We’re just at the tip of the iceberg,” Huberdeau says. “What I’ve learned the most [from this project] is the piece around choosing and building the communities that we [and trans families] need, which can include chosen family and chosen community. But it’s doing the work to build these networks that we want in our lives, that we want now. It is super rewarding.”