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Although the volume of films about transgender and nonbinary characters is not nearly as vast or far-reaching as it should be in Hollywood 2022, there has been some progress in recent years. The more we amplify the films that positively and poignantly portray the trans experience, the more we can hope to see their quantity increase. And as anti-trans laws and threats against LGBTQ+ people intensify nationwide, it’s incredibly important that we celebrate the trans community and continue to share their stories.
With groundbreaking documentaries and emotional dramas in the mix, we’ve created a list of the best transgender movies that thoughtfully depict the feelings, hardships, and joy that encapsulates transitioning and the transgender experience. Of course, these films do not illustrate the lives of all trans people, and some are controversial in the sense that they feature cisgender actors playing transgender people. But they all tell absolutely crucial stories.
Here, find all the best transgender movies to stream on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and beyond.
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In this Brazilian coming-of-age film, Alice is a 17-year-old YouTube sensation who must move from a big city to the conservative countryside for her dad’s job. Even worse, she’s forced to attend the area’s co-ed Catholic school. Nearly immediately after transferring, she faces transphobia and bullying from her classmates and teachers, but Alice’s confidence and resilience keep her afloat as she follows her dream of receiving her first kiss.
Starring leading trans actors, actresses, and filmmakers such as Laverne Cox, Bianca Leigh, Alexandra Billings, Brain Michael Smith, and Rain Valdez, Disclosure takes an in-depth look at trans representation in the media over the last century, and explores the impact it’s had on the community.
Growing Up Coy is an eye-opening account of one Colorado family’s fight for their transgender daughter Coy, who at six years old, was banned to use the girls’ bathroom at her school.
Loosely inspired by a true story, The Danish Girl depicts artist Lili Elbe’s transition to female in 1920s and 1930s Copenhagen, Denmark. With the support of her wife, fellow artist Gerda Wegener, Lili undergoes one of the first gender affirming surgeries in the world, a highly experimental procedure at the time.
Ricky is a 21-year-old trans woman who lives in rural Kentucky, working as a barista and hanging out with her longtime best friend, Robby — but she dreams of moving to New York City and finally launching her career as a fashion designer. Then Ricky meets Francesca, and although she’s engaged to be married, the two develop a close relationship. Carrying themes of friendship, romance, gender identity, and sexual identity, this film is a must-watch.
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Meet the inspiration behind the television series, Pose. This documentary chronicles the Black and Latinx members of the LGBTQ+ community who created the vibrancy and glamour of drag ballroom culture in Harlem, New York in the 1980s. Featuring interviews with famed drag queens Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and the “Grandfather of Vogue” Willi Ninja, the film also documents the racism, transphobia, homophobia, and poverty that the community faced in this time period.
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Boys Don’t Cry is based on the heartbreaking true story of Brandon Teena, a transgender man living in rural Nebraska who, after being outed, was brutally sexually assaulted and murdered in 1993. Following Brandon’s story as he falls in love with a cisgender woman named Lana, this powerful film will leave an impression on you to last a lifetime.
This Belgian film tells the story of a young child named Ludovic who identifies as a girl and wants to live as one, despite backlash from family and others. A 1998 Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Ma Vie en Rose is a beautiful, touching depiction of a young person navigating the process of transitioning.
Passing is a short documentary film — running only about 23 minutes long — but even with limited time, delivers a poignant, moving profile of three trans men of color who recount their journeys since transitioning from female to male.
This sci-fi film is composed of seven standalone shorts, which tell the stories of supernatural trans and queer characters from various cultures, who use their powers and magical abilities to protect their community.
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