a film and act of witnessing what has been lost, gained, and revealed to trans and gender variant people in the COVID-19 pandemic.
For transgender and gender variant people, the challenges we have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic are acute and varied. For some, particularly Black trans women and femmes, “this is not our first pandemic.” (community leader, Chicago) For others, social isolation has allowed more awareness and openings for expansive gender expression. For a few, COVID restrictions brought them back into transphobic and unsafe households. For most, global shutdowns, economic uncertainty, and hateful legislation, have impacted gender affirming care. This documentary by G. Chesler bears witness to the lives of trans folx throughout the US who have found, amidst growing attacks against us and increasing threats to our safety and health, the resonant value in our community, and a deepening awareness of our genders and bodies.
G. (Giovanna) Chesler (they/them) directs and produces this film as a transgender nonbinary disabled queer person, primarily for other queer and trans folx. Their approach echoes their documentary feature “Period: The End of Menstruation,” which weaves a tapestry, and follows from 20 years of filmmaking on themes of the body, gender, health, and racial justice. Through a multiplicity of voices and perspectives reflecting on the past two years, G. creates a heterogeneous record and a radical affirmation of trans lives amidst a global pandemic.
Our filmmaking team is 100% queer and trans, filmmakers across the United States, who are compelled to tell these stories because of our own personal experiences of change during the pandemic. We use an aesthetic mimicking COVID communication – building from the personal and intimate – photographs, home movies, journal entries, and artwork – made by trans participants during the pandemic. We extend the lens by including found and licensed materials that witness trans lives more broadly. We document gatherings in Zoom, virtual dance parties, TikTok concerts, and comedians adding humor to the moment. And we travel around the US, featuring a wide variety of participants of many class positions, abilities, genders, races, ethnicities, and ages. We collect and feature what few news reports and studies on trans experiences during the pandemic exist, and speak to trans activists and scholars who put it all into historical context.