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Grindr Cinema Club: Trans Visibility

To recognize International Transgender Day of Visibility, Grindr Cinema Club is recommending some excellent feature-length films that have illuminated transness for audiences in the past three decades.
Alex Stergiou
&
Digital Media Producer
March 31, 2023
April 16, 2024
4
min. read
Grindr Cinema Club: Trans Visibility
Table of Contents

Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, the day in which we honor the joy and resilience of trans people, as well as raise awareness about the discrimination and violence that they face. Historically, the trans community has been wildly underrepresented in pop culture, especially in film. Having media like films and documentaries accurately depict the trans experience is essential for trans visibility. Seeing films made by trans people with trans people on screen can be empowering for the trans community, and is especially valuable for those who don’t have trans people in their own lives.                  

So, to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, Grindr Cinema Club is recommending some excellent feature-length films that have illuminated transness for audiences over the past three decades. These films are spread across all genres. Better yet, they’re all made by queer, genderqueer and/or trans filmmakers. They’ll make you laugh and cry and feel both anger and hope. Just like transness, these films contain multitudes.

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Paris Is Burning (dir. Jennie Livingston 1990)

Where to watch: HBO Max, The Criterion Channel

File under: Documentary, Drag, New York City

This seminal documentary from genderqueer director Jennie Livingston takes an in-depth look at New York City’s ballroom scene in the 1980’s. Immersive, charming, and tragic, this world is populated by queer and trans BIPOC artists, models, and performers striving to make it big. Featuring the legendary Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija and Dorian Corey.

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Bound (dir. The Wachowski Sisters, 1996)

Where to watch: Pluto TV, Paramount+                          

File under: Noir, Crime, Cult Classic

Anybody who is a fan of The Matrix or The Wachowski Sisters should check out their feature directorial debut starring Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilley, and Joe Pantoliano. This film is about a sexy, edge-of-your-seat heist that subverts the gender binaries of film noir.

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The Matrix (dir. The Wachowski Sisters, 1999)

Where to watch: Tubi, HBO Max                                   

File under: Sci-fi, Hollywood, Oscar Nominee

Yes, The Matrix Trilogy is a trans metaphor.

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By Hook Or By Crook (dir. Silas Howard, 2001)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime                    

File Under: Buddy Adventure, Cult Classic, San Francisco  

Capturing the grit of 70’s road movies (think Easy Rider), this film stars trans director Silas Howard (Transparent) and artist Harry Dodge (My Meteorite) as two buddies in search of love and money on the streets of San Francisco.

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Stud Life (dir. Campbell X, 2012)

Where to watch: Tubi                                  

File under: Slice of Life, BIPOC, International   

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British trans director Campbell X brings us a brash and funny story about the friendship between J, genderqueer and butch, and Seb, a cute white twink. Their bond is tested when J falls in love with a beautiful femme. Starring T’Nia Miller, Kyle Treslove, and Robyn Kerr

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Strong Island (dir. Yance Ford, 2017)

Where to watch: Netflix                                

File under: Documentary, True Crime, Oscar Nominee                  

Yance Ford became the first out trans person to ever be nominated for an Oscar with this documentary that recounts the true story of his brother’s murder. This compelling exploration of masculinity, race, and class is a must-see.

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Lingua Franca (dir. Isabel Sandoval, 2019)

Where to watch: Tubi, Netflix                               

File under: Indie Darling, Great Performances, Drama          

Writer, director, editor, and coproducer Isabel Sandoval plays Olivia, an undocumented trans Filipino caregiver pursues a marriage to obtain a green card. This film is a beautiful, nuanced, sexy rendering of trans pain and joy, and dare we say a masterpiece.

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Disclosure (dir. Sam Feder, 2020)                                                

Where to watch: Netflix                           

File under: Documentary, Trans History, Hollywood              

And we can’t leave out Sam Feder’s comprehensive and unprecedented look at the history of transgender visibility and representation in film, tv, and Hollywood-at-large.

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We’re All Going To The World’s Fair (dir. Jane Schoenbrun, 2021)

Where to watch: HBO Max                                 

File under: Horror, Edgy, Indie Darling                  

Where does the corporeal world end and the internet begin? Lonely teenager finds out when she immerses herself in an online role-playing horror game from trans auteur Jane Schoenbrun.

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Anything’s Possible (dir. Billy Porter, 2022)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime                                

File under: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age, Romantic Comedy

When Khal, who is cis, develops a crush on high school classmate Kelsa, who is trans, they develop a romance despite the drama that it causes. For the fan of Dear Evan Hansen and Heartstopper, this film is from director Billy Porter ( Pose — a series inspired by Paris Is Burning).

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Lastly, we look ahead to the future with a couple of titles that we’re excited to get a wider release…

Kokomo City (dir. D. Smith, 2023)                                                

File under: Documentary, Edgy, Indie Darling                                    

A gorgeous, complex, and frank portrait of four trans black sex workers from New York and Georgia from trans director and Grammy-nominated producer D. Smith. Fresh out of Sundance.

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Mutt (dir. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, 2023)

File under: Drama, Great Performances, New York City                                    

A day in the life of a young transmasc man named Feña who navigates the dynamics of old relationships made anew since transitioning. Fresh out of the Berlin Film Festival.

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