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Boy I Am

Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Sam Feder and Julie Hollar
Directed by Sam Feder and Julie Hollar
DVD, color, 72 min.
College - Adult
Gay and Lesbian Studies, Gender Studies, Psychology, Sociology, Women's Studies

Reviewed by Monique Threatt, Indiana University, Herman B Wells Library, Bloomington, IN

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 6/27/2007

In this feature-length documentary, Sam and Julie engage viewers in the debate over gender and masculinity. The film presents opposing viewpoints about female-to-male (FTM) transitioning based on candid interviews with FTM trans, activists, feminists, lesbians, and scholars. Important issues surrounding hormone treatments, women’s health issues and reproductive rights, female gender identity and body politic all serve to enlighten audiences about a hot topic within mainstream society. The film’s ability to inform and educate leads to promoting tolerance and understanding.

In what can be described as a video diary, three very different FTM trans, all under the age of 30, share intimate and psychological experiences during pre and post FTM transitioning. In contrast, scholar Judith “Jack” Halberstam, University of Southern California, provides insight into the history of GLB&T, and suggests the FTM v. feminism debate has its roots in a deep suspicion of masculinity within feminism, which extends to a debate over butchness. Feminists proffer FTM trans build alliances within feminist and lesbian communities to better understand the role white men play in legislating and controlling women’s health care, and reproductive rights in America.

Unfortunately, transgender people continue to be constant targets of discrimination. Abigail W. Lloyd writes, “Transgender people encounter extreme discrimination and prejudice in every facet of life, including "employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, marriage, parenting and law enforcement." (Defining the Human: Are Transgender People Strangers to the Law? Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice. Berkeley: 2005. Vol. 20 p.150). Two of the three FTM trans portrayed in the film face discrimination in the workplace, and, ironically, from within the FTM community.

This deep thought-provoking film is a must have to initiate dialogue between straight, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities. Additional commentary provided by Dean Spade, Lawyer, Sylvia Rivera law Project, Elizabeth Cline, Journalist, Deb Botkin, Femme Dyke, Imani Henry, activist, writer, performer, and Carmen Vazquez, Deputy Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda.

The technical aspects of the film are above average, as well as the audio and visual editing. However, it is the content of the film coupled with Joshua Guthals and Jesse Olsen musical soundtrack which provides for a dynamic documentary, and is representative of the quality films distributed by Women Make Movies. This film can be used to support gay & lesbian, gender, psychology, and sociology studies. I recommend librarians consider previewing the following programs to compliment this film: The Aggressives (7th Art Releasing), Speak Up!: Improving the lives of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender youth (Media Education Foundation), and The Believers (Frameline).

I highly recommend this film for academic media collections, and general adults.


  • Seattle L&G FF, Audience Favorite Doc Feature