Review: ‘Trans List’ looks at wide range of experience

Tom Long
The Detroit News

The point of “The Trans List” is that there is no one way to be transgender, just as there is no one way to be human.

A documentary that sits down with 11 trans people, the film is produced by, and the interviews are conducted by, trans author and TV commentator Janet Mock. She begins with a typical we-are-the-world, believe-in-yourself, trans-power rant and there’s the temptation to switch channels.

But not so fast. Because the interviews are indeed eye-opening, varying widely in terms of range.

You’ve got your top Hollywood trans names in Laverne Cox and a surprisingly good-humored Caitlyn Jennings. But you’ve also got a black attorney, a trans man, who is both articulate and heartfelt. And you’ve got a former top model who was outed when she appeared as an object of desire in a James Bond movie.

There are obvious generational shifts. Some of the older trans women remember the ‘70s, and remember being left behind by the gay revolution. Some, like Jenner, transitioned later in life, some early on.

Perhaps most hopeful is a teen student who transitioned before adolescence, with the support of her parents and twin brother. To her being trans is just a natural way of life. She seems completely comfortable in her skin.

Others are admittedly a bit kookier to the common eye. There’s a male adult film star who still sports female genitalia. And there’s a young Indian wearing bizarrely bright lipstick who refuses to be labeled male or female. He/she is a they, pronoun-wise.

All of the interviews have pictures of the subjects either before they transitioned or early on in their lives. And, aside from Mock’s opening, there’s very little here that sounds preachy. All these people come across as very sharp, very real and very different. They sort of are the world. Point made.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.


‘The Trans List’


8 p.m. Monday