Transpose Extended will dive into the challenges transgender individuals face.
“We’re talking about the trans people and their families,” says Alejandro Lex Treviño, Arttitude board member. “How their transition affected them from their individual basis.”
Arttitude, a Dallas nonprofit that serves to unite the LGBTQ community, will screen the film Sept. 27 at Texas Theatre. Transpose Extended is a continuation of the Arttitude first film, Transpose: The Transgender Project, that was released two years ago. The first film focused more on the exposure of transgender people living in Dallas.
Treviño says that there wasn’t really a selection process of people to be included in the film. Some previous cast from the first film and close friends were chosen. The purpose of the film is to educate people, so they can understand people who identify as transgender.
Finnigan Jones, a transgender man, has been married to his wife, Susan Blanchard-Jones, since 2016.
“(Arttitude) asked us a lot of questions about our relationship,” Susan says. "I went through the transition with him. He started his transition a year after we met. So, we talked about his family and how supportive my family has been, which they've really been very supportive.”
Susan, who was married for 22 years and had two children, divorced her previous husband. She began dating Finnigan in 2009, and a year into their relationship, they both discovered that Finnigan was transgender. Finnigan says during his teenage years, he became a lesbian but didn’t feel compelled as one.
“I always knew I was different as a child, but I could never put a label because I didn’t know what label to put on,” Finnigan says.
Finnigan went through the transition and has been using testosterone ever since and will continue to do so until there’s a better solution.
“I felt more confidence in myself,” Finnigan says. “My life changed. I was a very depressed person. My whole life I had problems with alcohol and drugs. The further my transition went, the more confident I became and the more outspoken I became.”
Finnigan and Susan will explain to the audience that transgender people who have families are like everyone else.
“I think it’s very important that people learn that transgender people and their families are just people, just like everyone else,” Susan says. “We're just here to apply with our life the best way we can.”
Finnigan will also explain his run for the Democratic seat of the Texas House of Representatives District 94 in the November election.
Like Finnigan and Susan, couple Jayla Wilkerson and Heather Oran Howard also will share details about their relationship and a little bit about their coming out stories.
“We decided to be a part of the film because visibility is important to our community," Jayla Wilkerson says. “The more people see and know about us, the more willing they will be to accept us and support us.”
Wilkerson says they both grew up in relatively conservative, redneck Texas towns in an era when transgender people were even more marginalized than today. Both hid who they were until they couldn’t anymore.
“We have both known that we were different from very early ages,” Wilkerson says. “Our earliest childhood memories are about our expressions of our femininity. Reason for transition is simply survival and living authentically.”
Guenevere Nieman will share the story of her son, O’Ryan, who a third grader, who started identifying himself as a boy at 2 years old. Treviño says he was part of the first film and has been following up with O’Ryan since.
“He’s a really smart kid,” Treviño says. “Great individual, really strong for knowing who he is.”
Bella Alaniz, a transgender woman, started her transition over a year ago. Alaniz says she regrets not participating in the first film but immediately said yes to the follow-up.
Like the rest, Alaniz will explain her personal life.
“I’m very open about my life and about myself,” Alaniz says.
Krista De La Rosa, program director, was involved with the first film and returned for the second. De La Rosa is excited that the second film will explore more in-depth how transitioning affects the individual and the people around them.
“The story of this film actually dives deeper into the more or less family aspect of being transgender,” De La Rosa says.
Having representation as a black transgender woman was one reason she decided to get involved with the film and with Arttitude. De La Rosa has been medically transitioned for a year and a half but has identified as transgender for more than 12 years.
“It was big stigma for me, especially since I am African-American,” De La Rosa says. “I am a transgender of color. Put those two things together and well, you’re in at the end of the zone.”
De La Rosa says she and others have a passion in creating awareness. Arttitude has shown passion and has also helped connect people to one another in the community.
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“I don’t think Transpose and other projects will be possible without Arttitude at the top,” De La Rosa says. “Because there’s a vision. And that vision spreads to other people and that creates the ultimate vision.”
This won’t be the last Transpose film of the series. Another film is being planned and will focus on the undocumented transgender community. Treviño knows there is mistreatment in the community and hopes to release the film next year.
“We're looking to hear the struggle of undocumented trans and seeking asylum in the country they live,” Treviño says. “They fear for their lives in the country they live in.”
Admission is free. Download a ticket via Facebook event page. First come, first serve.