Boy I Am (Dir: Sam Feder and Julie Hollar, 2006)

Running Time: 72 min


Color, VHS/DVD

Subjects: transgender, feminist debates, queer identity

Boy I Am, directed by Sam Feder and Julie Hollar, offers a look at the underrepresented experiences of female-to-male transgender people and addresses historical and current resistances within queer and feminist movements to recognize transmale communities. The documentary follows three female-bodied men from New York City, who narrate their experiences over the period of their transitions to male bodies, and discuss their own conceptions of masculinity and embodiment. In addition to the frequent social stigmatization and marginalization of transgender experiences are political criticisms from lesbian and feminist perspectives that regard trans-identification as a trend, a “cop-out” of the oppressions tied to being female-bodied, or an effort to tap into male privilege. Boy I Am endeavors to unpack the concepts of gender and sexuality used in these criticisms and speaks with queer and feminist activists pushing for greater recognition of transgender people in social justice movements.

The film engages a variety of perspectives on what masculine identification means-historically, theoretically and personally-blending academic commentaries with personal narratives of gender identity. Interviewees address the relevance of race and class, how cultural and social difference affects transgender experiences, and what innovations in sex reassignment surgery mean for transmen.

By opening up a space for the discussion of transgender masculinity and explicitly addressing concerns about male identity in contemporary society Boy I Am makes an effort to promote understanding and solidarity between lesbian, feminist and transgender communities, and does so in an intelligent and sensitive way.

Further Reading:
Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity