As a transman and best-selling author, journalist, television-writer, and activist, I have been telling stories in both the mainstream and indie realms for 20 years. Now, in the documentary Man Made, I am taking an in-depth, authentic look into the female-to-male (FTM) transgender experience via a new (actual) lens.
In these times, when protections for transgender people (and so many others) are being rolled back at alarming rates, and when violence against trans people is surging, and when a vociferous segment of the population—not to mention the new administration—is challenging our very right to exist as humans (i.e. use a toilet, have access to safe health care, or possess legal ID), I believe strongly that this project and ones like it are more vital than ever. And while the transgender movement is certainly having its cultural and political moment, many of the stories we see still follow a certain, already almost familiar "trans narrative." But Man Made offers a truly unique and relevant trans story (actually four of them), that emerge from the inside looking out, as opposed to from the outside looking in.
I have to believe that if we keep telling our stories, it will be harder and harder to erase us.
Like the subjects of this film, I know what’s involved in making the life- altering decision to turn yourself into the person you know you are, despite the world telling you, for your whole life prior, that you are something else. Even though I am not a bodybuilder per se, I know what's involved in envisioning and taking steps to build the body you want. So in some ways, this is my story. But it is also the story of anybody who has done what it takes to become the person s/he is meant to be.
Man Made is both a riveting competition-based film and a unique social justice narrative—as well as a much larger, character-based examination of gender, masculinity specifically, and difference in general—and how we all grow and reshape ourselves as humans, literally and figuratively. More specifically, how we as a society define what makes a man, what makes a woman. And how those labels are being re-defined before our eyes—by the very characters of this film. Man Made delves deep into what it means to live an authentic life of any kind, thereby—I hope—stimulating conversations around all forms of racial, social and economic justice.
For the men of Man Made, it's not about winning—it's about stepping on stage and being seen.
BEHIND THE SCENES
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