This 18-page essay is a comparative analysis of 4 films that depict or deal with transgender migrants: Nick Mai's Normal (2012) and Samira (2016), Isabel Castro's Crossing Over (2014), and Tomer Heymann's Paper Doll's (2006). I give summaries and analyses of each film, as well as “ supplementing this with academic works that help to build a framework to understand the position of trans migrants and move toward gender and geographic fluidity. Taking lessons from the shortcomings of these films, I imagine what an ideal film could be."
I talk about definitions, multiply motivated migration, sex work, messy survival transition, self-determination, simple medicalized trans narratives being a limiting requirement for access, multivalent truth-performance, disappointing formal experimentation, fraught fictionalization, Aren Aizura's “Persistence of Transgender Travel Narratives", appeals to power for legitimacy, blatant formal glamorization of the US, “deserving migrants", forced stealth, the continuation of stories beyond the frame of the film, the limited potential for film to make meaningful change, hope, distance in documentary as objectifying, direct support work, the collaborative power of film, and the necessity of a capacious and generative imaginary.
This is the final research paper written for Amy Brandzel's graduate seminar Queer/Trans/2-Sprit Migrations at the University of New Mexico.
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