Arts News

SLCC students film transgender documentary

Salt Lake Community College film students produced a documentary covering three local transgender individuals of various backgrounds and ages.

“‘We Belong’ is a documentary celebrating transgender people,” student director Noah Rivas said in an interview on KRCL’s RadioActive. “As a trans person myself, I’ve always wanted to put myself into the films I create. That was a huge inspiration for pitching this documentary and making it happen.”

Individuals featured in the film candidly discuss their personal journeys of coming out, grappling with gender dysphoria, and confronting the painful reality of transphobia.

56-year-old Sara Jade Woodhouse came out as transgender later in life, and tells the story of how she knew she was meant to be a woman.

“From the time I was four years old, and people started breaking off into boy groups and girl groups, I always knew there was something different,” Woodhouse said in the film. “But this was the 60s or 70s, and I was in small-town Salem, Utah — so the word trans-anything was not in my vocabulary.”

This year, the Utah State Legislature passed, and Gov. Spencer Cox signed, Senate Bill 16 — legislation that blocks transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming healthcare. Oliver, a trans youth member who spoke during a House committee hearing, explained that they needed to mature politically because their rights are on the line.

“I think it’s kind of sad,” they said in the film. “I’m 16, I would much rather be reading or playing video games than going out to the Capitol to [explain] to people how I’m a normal person and they don’t need to interfere with the way my life is headed.”

Also in the film, 28-year-old Milo Johansen talks about the challenges of raising a child and the fear that comes with being a transgender parent.

“It’s scary with a lot of laws in certain places [where] parents are having their children taken away for being trans,” he says. “I always joke about ‘over my dead body,’ but that’s a little too real sometimes.”

“Our ‘tagline’ was that we were celebrating transgender individuals, and we went into this with a really happy approach,” said the film’s producer, Connor O’Hagen. “And a part of the history, there’s a lot of pain that’s there. We realized that, overall, celebration doesn’t always have to be super-joyous. We changed the tone to be about the trans community and what the reality is.”

A trailer for “We Belong” is available to watch on YouTube.

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