Eye For Film >> Movies >> Transition (2016) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Short films about people transitioning from one gender role to another are becoming as common as biographies on the subject but, like those, they still matter, acting as guides for those who are approaching transition themselves and helping the wider public to understand the kind of things that trans people go through. Although it's fairly textbook in its approach, this one manages to avoid the usual cliché shots, and its personable young subject makes it easy to like.
That subject is Danny, a young man still living with his parents in Ireland, trying to map out a future that will include some major bodily changes whilst making things work with his first boyfriend and dealing with all the usual difficulties of growing up. He's presented with an extra challenge when it comes to transition because he has type 1 diabetes, which could complicate both hormone treatment and surgery. It means that going beyond social changes will require him to be in optimum health. Problems like this affect quite a number of trans people so it's good to see them discussed in a way that makes room for optimism and allows Danny to celebrate the progress he has made so far, thanks in part to the acceptance of family members and the local community.
The most poignant part of the film comes when Danny talks about wanting to be a father. Getting eggs frozen would be a costly process at a stage in life where it's difficult to earn much, and it's clear that he doesn't have much confidence about the prospect of someday being allowed to adopt. Through this, the film challenges notions about masculinity and the culture of expecting trans people to prove themselves by rejecting everything associated with the sex category they were put in at birth. It also helps to contextualise the level of distress Danny feels at having to cope with an unaltered body.
The other thing that will stand out for some viewers here is Danny's expectation that whatever he does he will always experience prejudice. The matter of factness with which this is presented underscores its normality even in a society that is changing fast.
For all its simplicity, Robert Cunningham's film is a potent snapshot of the challenges facing one individual, and of the way other people's misconceptions add to the burden.
Screening as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival: 16 October, CCA, Glasgow.Reviewed on: 14 Oct 2016