10 Inspiring Transgender Films Worth Seeing - Raindance

This is a list of some of the best transgender films made over the last three decades. From tragic tales to outlandish comedies, these films all deal with characters exploring their gender identities, their human relationships and how far they are prepared to push the boundaries.

Tomboy (2011)

When 10 year old, Laure moves with her 6 year old sister, Jeanne  and her parents to a new neighbourhood where she passes herself off as a boy, Michaël. Hanging out with his new friends Lisa and a predominantly male group he embraces his new identity. Michaël takes observes his playmates and recreates their male mannerisms. Director, Celine Sciamma deals with the tricky subject of childhood gender confusion, focusing is on his identity rather than any pre-teen nascent sexuality. The film was very well received, winning several wards including the Teddy jury Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

52 Tuesdays (2015)

Directed by Sophie Hyde, this Australian coming-of-age drama explores a women, Jane, transitioning to a man, James, and the relationship with her daughter. Needing some time to focus, the daughter, Billie goes and lives with her dad and they agree to see each other every Tuesday. The film is shot in real time, on every Tuesday for a year. The cast were all non-professionals and were given their scripts one week at a time. This provides an original way of looking at transition over time, not only in terms of James’ change from female to male but also with his daughter’s journey into adulthood. This innovative film won best director award at Sundance for Sophie Hyde.

Orlando (1992)

When Orlando is commanded by his lover, Queen Elizabeth I to stay young forever that is exactly what he does. Passing through the centuries of British History he goes on a philosophical quest,  adopting different identities and even changes his sex. Based on the book by Virginia Woolf, Tilda Swinton captures the character of Orlando with incredible subtlety, exploring the sexual politics of four centuries both through the male and female gaze. The film was nominated for two Oscars and won best film and Venice Film Festival.

Beautiful Boxer (2003)

The true story of the famous transgender Muay Thai boxer, Parinya Charoenphol who pursued the sport to pay for his sex change operation.But Charoenphol comes to love the fight, approaching it more as an art form and using ancient moves rarely known by contemporary fighters. Director, Ekachai Uekrongtham’s film provides us with a fascinating insight into gender politics in Thailand and beautifully brings to life Charoenphol’s moving story. The film was well received and won best feature at Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Tangerine (2015)

Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with their own repercussions of infidelity. Director Sean Baker, revealed after it’s premier that the film was shot in its entirety on an iphone.

(see article on how to create a film using your iphone: http://www.raindance.org/create-a-stunning-film-using-your-iphone/)

XXY (2007)

Alex (Ines Efron)  was born an intersex child.She has been living as a girl, taking hormones to suppress her masculine features. But as Alex begins to explore her sexuality, her mother invites friends from Buenos Aires to come for a visit at their house in Uruguay, along with their 16-year-old son Álvaro (Martin Piroyanski.) Alex is immediately attracted to the young man, which adds yet another level of complexity to her personal search for identity, and forces both families to face their worst fears. Lucia Puenzo’s XXY is both honest and sensitive in dealing with the subject of intersexuality. The shots are beautifully composed, the editing paces the process of self-discovery, the dialogue is spare and heartfelt, the performances are deeply human. The film won 3 awards at Cannes and best feature, screenplay and actress (for Efron) at the Argentinean Film Critics Association Award.

Todo sobre mi madre/ All About My Mother (1999)

Almodovar’s comedy-drama about Manuela, after the death of her son travels to Barcelona to track down his transvestite father, Lola. On her adventure she reunites with Agrado, a transexual prostitute and old friend and meets Sister Rosa (Penelope Cruz) a nun who works in a shelter for battered prostitutes and is pregnant with Lola’s child and HIV positive. She also meets two actresses Huma Rojo and drug-addict, Nina Cruz. In this film Almodovar characterisations are gentler versions of his usual gender-bending and hysterical melodramas and the film emanated tragic. All About My Mother is one of Almodovar’s best films and won the award for best director at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar for best foreign language film.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005)

Set in 1970s a  young transwoman, Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy) leaves her Irish town, in part to look for her mother and in part because her transgender nature is beyond the town’s understanding. Kitten believes his birth mother may have moved to London. In the course of her journey to find her, she sings with a rock band, becomes a magician’s assistant, is a suspected IRA bomber and is reduced to street prostitution. Throughout, her nationality and her nature put her at great risk. The film is based on a book by the same name By Patrick McCabe. Director, Neil Jordan has brought the characters to life in this dark comedy based on Patrick McCabe’s book by the same name. It was well received and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Murphy’s performance.

Ma vie en rose/ My Life in Pink (1997)

The story of Ludovic, a child who is seen by family and community as a boy, but consistently communicates being a girl. The rest of the family humour him as best they can, rationalising that Ludovic is only trying to find his identity and will be over it soon. Belgian director, Alain Berliner recreates the fantasies and dreams of childhood while simultaneously exploring the volatile subject of sexual identity.  It won best foreign language film at 1998 Golden Globes and is one of the first cinematic explorations of gender identity in young children.

TransAmerica (2005)

Duncan Tucker’s first film looks at a transgender women, Bree, who find out she has a son. Before her final surgery her therapist recommends she meets her son. Her son, Toby, living in New York is an aspirng porn star. Unwilling to reveal her true identity she pretends she is a caseworker converting sex workers to Jesus. She buys a car and the two road-trip back to LA together, Bree intent that Toby does not learn the truth. Recognised for her perfect embodiment of this transgender mother, Felicity Huffman was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.