Critics' Pick

Transfixed (NR)

Documentary April 21, 2016
By Ernest Hardy
With anti–LGBT rights legislation sweeping the country (recent grim news from Georgia and North Carolina is only the tip of the iceberg,) it's become glaringly obvious that increased social visibility has made the trans community a special target of right-wing ire. Director Alon Kol's documentary Transfixed, whose main subject is a Toronto-based trans woman named Martine, gives an intimate, insider view of the battles being waged by and against trans people over social spaces and government services. It's all filtered through Martine's intertwined journeys toward sex-reassignment surgery and marriage to John, her fiancé of more than a decade.

By focusing on the specifics of their unique story — both Martine and John have Asperger's syndrome — Kol achieves the goal many trans activists have been fighting for: showing trans individuals in all their ordinary human dimensions. So he doesn't shy away from the ways Martine self-sabotages as she's preparing to undergo surgery, or the bitter sniping that can occur between couples as the wedding looms and battles over money and household chores take their toll.

Martine, in fact, is an often exasperating figure (one of her doctors brusquely checks her flow of excuses for not losing weight ahead of her surgery.) But she and John also speak powerfully on what it is to live with Asperger's, the fluidity and unpredictability of sexuality and Martine's relentless political activism to secure insurance coverage for her surgery and for other trans people. It's heady stuff rescued from ivory-tower theorizing and placed in the context of the real world and real people, making Transfixed a timely, important film.
Alon Kol

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