A feature documentary capturing the unseen story of transgender lives in rural America
Filmed over a decade, TRANSCENDING is a feature documentary in progress that follows three transgender friends as they struggle to get by in rural America. Ashlee, James and Amy are working class people trying to live freely in a failing, forgotten town. Without access to a larger LGBTQ+ community, they find solidarity in each other while also forging their own individual paths.
The majority of transgender people in the U.S. can’t afford fancy clothes or expensive surgeries. They are not living the glamorous life we often see depicted in the media. Ashlee, James and Amy are everyday people who we rarely see on screen and have been largely overlooked — until now.
Ashlee yearns for a life of family, faith and community. She searches for love and is often ostracized, especially by the synagogue she strives to stay connected to. She wants to live as a conservative Jewish woman but also enjoys playing the role of sexy girlfriend and model.
Intelligent, sensitive and kind, James builds his community by volunteering at the local community help center. He has done deep personal work to move past the sexual abuse that took place during his childhood and also tries to forgive his mother for not preventing it. His family struggles with James’ identity and wasn’t prepared to handle his transition but this young man is still bound for glory.
Infamous in her town as the night shift taxi driver, Amy struggles with poverty and health issues after a lifetime of smoking. She has a bumpy relationship with her two adult children and they still call her “dad”. Amy is on a mission to obtain gender confirmation surgery but the process has been painfully slow. Her lack of access to healthcare and financial resources threaten her dreams of surgery but she continues to fight for what she needs to feel whole.