Next to the fear that LGBT and, specifically, trans people will continue to be second class citizens legally and culturally, there lies a fear of invisibility. This very real fear is not the veneer stuff of monsters in my closet, but the very real threat of the silencing of our lives and experiences that has been a reality for millennia.
Finally, in what represents a slight shift in the wind in America, we are starting to be recognized for our right to be who we are and to love who our souls draw us to.
And, in rare moments of clarity, we celebrate one another for who we are in all our uniqueness, not how we conform.
Laverne Cox is scooping up awards and magazine cover shoots by the dozens (including a recent naked shoot for Allure Magazine where she embraces that she is not the feminine beauty ideal, but is beautiful nonetheless, and knows that her bravery empowers others, especially trans women of color).
In another recent victory locally in New York, trans filmmaker and educator Sam Feder is getting significant exposure for his documentary about performance artist Kate Bornstein, Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. In addition to festival credits and media exposure, Sam will be accepting a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism for the film this Friday at Hunter College in Manhattan.
About receiving the honor, filmmaker Sam Feder, told me via email:
Receiving the award is incredibly affirming. It says people want to hear stories about our lives that aren't limited to narrow Hollywood narratives. Often stories about trans people focus solely on our bodies rather than our spirits or how our gender disrupts those around us rather than how we are making the world a more just place.
Specifically, films about trans women are more often tragic than celebratory or simply a punch line for amusement. I was sick of what I was seeing in the media. I wanted to make a film that challenged these expectations and created space for more nuance and care.
Sam was the director, producer and editor for the film, and is an adjunct professor in the Film and Media Studies Department at Hunter College, where he graduated the MFA Integrated Media Arts Program. His work has reached myriad outlets internationally including film festivals, universities and colleges, museums, and libraries. Sam's award winning feature film, Boy I Am, was cited as one of the "10-Must See Gender Documentaries."
Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger does what a lot of films have not yet done: Shine a light on the life of a pioneer transgender activist and artist, without shying away from the nuances that makes Kate Bornstein the quirky, colorful, brilliant person she is. The film addresses "the importance of being true to oneself while considering, more broadly, what it means to lead a fulfilling life."
The 25th annual James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism will go to reporters who have exposed social issues of importance across diverse genres. The ceremony is free and open to the public this Friday, April 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lang Recital Hall at Hunter College, 68th Street and Lexington Ave, New York City. The awards are named about James Aronson, a longtime Hunter College professor and founder and editor of the crusading news weekly, The National Guardian. Since 1990, the Aronson Awards have been coordinated by the Hunter College Department of Film and Media Studies and a committee of journalists, media professionals, scholars and activists.
Check out the trailer from the film below: