Gender studies

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 28 2005 11:00 PM ET

For many young
people, leaving home and going to college provides the
first opportunity to live openly as a gay man or lesbian.
But what’s the experience like for trans folk?
A new documentary series premiering September 20 on
Sundance Channel offers some perspective.
TransGeneration is a touching and frank eight-episode
study that follows four very different transgender
college students over the course of a school year as
they deal with schoolwork and family life in addition
to the highly personal process of transitioning.

“I really
wanted to participate in a project that looked like it
wanted to show the diverse perspectives of the trans
community,” said FTM (female-to-male) subject
T.J. Jourian. “There are things that we share
and some experiences that we might all have, but in the end,
we’re all individuals.”

A 24-year-old
Michigan State graduate student who hails from the island
nation of Cyprus, Jourian hopes to find work as a GLBT
campus coordinator. “There aren’t that
many trans folks who are working on college campuses,
so I’m hoping to be a resource for a college student
coming out.” In the meantime, Jourian keeps himself
busy with activism, particularly with Phi Tau Mu, an
oncampus FTM group, and Drag King Rebellion, a local
troupe.

Covering a wide
range of transgender youth experiences, the other
participants in the show are Lucas, a needle-shy—all
things considered, it’s an issue—FTM
enrolled at a women’s college in Massachusetts;
Gabbie, a peppy blond MTF (male-to-female) in Colorado
counting down the days to her sex-reassignment
surgery; and Raci, a hearing-impaired MTF in Los
Angeles originally from the Philippines.

Director Jeremy
Simmons believes that the college students in his
documentary are particularly well-equipped to present the
transgender perspective to a wide audience. “I
think anybody can relate to being in college and going
through issues of identity…so the issue of gender
becomes something the mainstream audience can
understand,” said Simmons. “It humanizes
an issue that a lot of people haven’t spent a lot of
time thinking about.”