TransGeneration is a groundbreaking 8-part verite- documentary series that captures a year in the life of four transgender college students. The series follows four unique individuals, two male-to-females and two female-to-males as they struggle to transition from one gender to the other in the midst of a grueling school year.
From working-class campuses to private colleges steeped in tradition, we follow these four students as they juggle the pressures of college life, academia and family expectations with their own life-changing transitions. Idealistic and empassioned, these four young adults embark on a journey of self-discovery and in the process re-define gender for their generation.
Gabbie is a sophomore majoring in computer science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Born Andrew in 1984, Gabbie struggled with her gender identity throughout her high school years in conservative Colorado Springs. She made attempts to come out as transgender, but parental disapproval sent her back into the closet. Midway through her freshman year of college, Gabbie came out for good. Since starting hormone therapy in February 2004, Gabbie has been living full-time as a woman and has and has blossomed with the transition. Energetic and upbeat, she has emerged from her social shell to become active in campus GLBT (gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender) groups. Her well-to-do parents have agreed to pay for sex reassignment surgery (SRS), and Gabbie is literally counting off the days until her March surgery date. She admits that it is nearly all she can think about.
Oklahoma-born Lucas is a study in caution and deliberation. A neuroscience major who was born Leah in 1983, Lucas traces his recognition of his male identity to his early days at Smith College, which is the nation’s oldest operating women’s university. For three years, Lucas has refrained from medical adjustments, but now, in his senior year, he is increasingly distressed that his body does not match his mind. His roommate and best friend, Kasey, has been undergoing hormone therapy for several months, and plans to undergo top surgery later in the year. Though Lucas doesn’t deny his feelings of jealousy, he is also conflicted about hormone therapy. He worries about the potential health risks and about the possible impact on his career prospects. Most of all, he is worried about the impact on his family. Lucas’ parents divorced when he was nine, and though his mother and younger brother are supportive, he is anxious about his father’s reaction. Ultimately, Lucas realizes he can’t wait any longer: now is the time for him to begin a new step of transition.
The sole freshman of the group is Raci, who was born Roy in the Philippines in 1985 and came to the U.S. with her mother when she was 15. Pretty and vivacious, Raci has identified as female since childhood. She is keenly aware of how people respond to her, an awareness that is compounded by the facts that she is hearing impaired and speaks English as her second language. Bright and driven to succeed, she excelled in high school and received a California State University Presidential Scholarship, which will cover four years’ tuition at California State University Los Angeles. But Raci faces tremendous challenges as she begins her first year. For the first time in her life, she will be living apart from her mother, who has moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a new job. Money is a tremendous concern. Raci shares a room in an East Los Angeles house with an aunt; the hormones she has been taking for three months come from a street supplier who charges $20, about 1/10th the amount a doctor would charge. Finally, though Raci’s family has long and lovingly accepted her as a transgender person, she doesn’t want her classmates and her teachers to know. In order for them to first get to know her as an individual, Raci plans to stay closeted on campus.
T.J., born Tamar in Beirut Lebanon in 1981 and raised in Cyprus, has embraced college as a place for intellectual, political and personal self-discovery. After graduating at the top of his high school class in Cyprus, T.J. received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S. At Michigan State University in East Lansing, T.J. is part of the campus’ tight-knit transgender community, and openly expresses the male identity he sensed as a very young child. Bright and politically engaged, he has chosen to continue towards a graduate degree in Student Affairs Administration at Michigan State University. But T.J.’s gender expression is irrevocably at odds with his family and community in Cyprus, where he is expected to return after completing graduate work. His mother refuses to talk to him about the subject, and it is no secret that he is expected to sublimate his personal desires to the will of his community. As T.J. plans to a visit home in May, he realizes that he will have to confront his mother and sister about his desire to transition. And T.J. knows that if he is to become the man he deeply feels himself to be, he may never be able to go home.
The school year rolls on. And for Gabbie, Lucas, Raci, and T.J., it may well be the most significant year of their young lives.