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Trans Friends Grow Up, Trade Toys, Come Out Together in New Doc Jack & Yaya

Trans Friends Grow Up, Trade Toys, Come Out Together in New Doc Jack & Yaya

Two transgender friends reminisce about switching toys at Christmas. 

Jack & Yaya, a new documentary from director Jennifer Bagley, tells the story of the titular next-door neighbors who grew up together in a rural area but who were able to support each other when they learned they were both transgender.

The film, which premiered at Toronto's Inside Out LGBT Film Festival this month, highlights their friendship through present-day video and interviews with Jack and Yaya and their friends juxtaposed with archival footage of their growing up together.

The synopsis of the film is as follows:

Jack and Yaya met at ages three and two through their shared backyard fence. They spent their childhood together, building forts and burning trash cans in their small hometown in South Jersey.

From a young age, Yaya and Jack saw each other as they truly were, a girl and a boy, even though the rest of the world didn't see them that way. As they grew older, they supported each other as they both came out as transgender.

Decades later, Jack and Yaya remain best friends. Jack now lives in Boston with his loyal pup, Plinko, and works as a kindergarten teacher, while Yaya lives in her childhood home, waiting tables and trying to make ends meet after her mother's passing. During his summer vacation, Jack travels back to his childhood home to spend time with Yaya and his extended family.

Jack & Yaya follows these two friends for a year and explores their unique relationship, drawing on home videos and conversations with their eclectic cast of friends and family.

The film also follows Yaya as she plows through the roadblocks of trying to legally change her name in New Jersey. The film depicts the power of friendship over time and distance.

In the exclusive clip above, Jack and Yaya attribute the longevity of their friendship in part to being the only ones who truly saw each other. A home video from when they were children shows Jack opening a Christmas gift of a Barbie head that he knows his friend Yaya will love.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist