Real Boy: A Son’s Transition, A Mother’s Transformation

Tonight at 10PM (9PM central time), PBS is screening a documentary called Real Boy.  If you’re hanging at home tonight, check it out!!

I had the opportunity to see this film twice now:

Last fall, my neighbors and I went, as part of the annual LGBT film festival where we live.  I’d have to say that I was a little bit jaded at that time – here is yet another story about young, white, binary, trans-masculine people.  Seen that / heard that!!!

The parts about his (Ben’s) mom, and family dynamics were what held it together for me.  My neighbor was really touched by it in a different way – there was a lot about singing/songwriting/creativity, and also about recovering from substance abuse and other destructive behaviors.

Then, two weeks ago, I went with my spouse and her parents.  It was a free showing, and the two main “characters” were there in person to answer questions and play some of their music as well.  I felt really happy that we all saw it together – we then went out to eat and talked about how we related or didn’t, with the movie.  Awesome conversations.

I would say that, for me, the second time’s the charm, haha.  For one thing, closed captioning was on, so we could all listen and read the dialogue simultaneously, which was kinda necessary because some people mumble more than others.  I got a lot more out of it – the way that Ben’s navigating his new life / roles / perceptions as a very young person (I can’t imagine transitioning at that age!!!  Hormones are already on full alert and then to mix it up so drastically, must be stressful – both positive and negative stress.)  And the male bonding that was going on between the characters felt a lot more touching to me this time for some reason.  He has a mentor / protegee dynamic going on with an older musician, and then a housemate / brotherhood with a trans-guy he met through mutual friend.

In terms of content notes, I would give this warning:  Topics that are potentially sensitive to those in recovery are brought up:  mostly grappling with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-injury and family issues / rejection.  Also, we follow along as Ben and his housemate move forward with getting top surgery with Dr. Garramone in Florida.

I’d say catch this movie if you can!  Although it didn’t really speak to me the first time, I came around to really like it!



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