Stealth (2015) Thoughts on the Film

MV5BMTk1OTM4Mjk4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDA5NDY1MzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_From the IMDb website:

“The heartwarming story of a brave, transgender tween. Stealth is the recipient of a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for science, 2 student Emmys, a student Academy Award, 20 festival awards, and it has played in over 50 festivals.” 

Plot synopsis from IMDb:  “Sammy is a transgender child. She was born a boy but is living in stealth as a girl with the support of her mother and a doctor. At her new school, Sammy finds the friends she has always dreamed of having and tells them her secret in confidence. When the threat of a betrayal arises, Sammy must decide whether to run or to live as her whole self.”

I was lucky enough to come across this film while hunting around for other blog topics, and was excited that such a topic was not only explored but also well received.  I immediately tried to find it online, but it was nowhere to found.  Luckily, I’m a member of several parent groups and a quick posting hooked me up with Laura Hernandez, the mother of Kristina Hernandez, the young lady who played the lead role in the film.  Laura was great, and after chatting a little about our girls, she hooked me up with the ability to view the 22 minute short-film.

I want to begin with the topic of the film, which is one of concern for anyone with a young transgender daughter.  Friendship is important to all children, but friendship among girls and women, on some level, is deeper than that between men.  Women and girls tend to share more, and as such there is the fear of sharing too much.  Add to it the age old tradition of the “sleepover” and it can become a little more tricky as a parent trying to protect your child, while also letting your child participate in an activity that most girls enjoy while growing up.

Fab has already been on sleepovers with other girls, but in those cases the other parent knew Fab’s status and so we knew that our little girl was in a safe environment.  In addition, most of her sleepovers have been at our house, because as she readily admits, she can be grumpy when she wakes up at someone else’s house and doesn’t want to be mean there.  As a result of all of this, her only sleepovers have been the ideal situations…out in the open with affirming friends and parents.

What will happen when she gets to middle school?  High school?…or even before that in grade school?  What happens when she makes new friends at her new school and they want to invite her to a sleepover party?  As I’ve already discussed in my last post, Fab will be going stealth at her new school.  This means, others will not know she has a dreaded (whisper) “penis.”  Heaven forbid they find out, and more importantly what would they do if they did find out. (Spoiler Alert!!!)  This is at the heart of the issue explored in the movie…a girl’s desire to be accepted, and information that could end her friendships or worse.

Kristina does an excellent job of playing her role, and displaying the angst and desire to be liked that I see my own child go through, and I was excited to see a young transgender actress cast in the role!!! (Jen Richards and Jamie Clayton take note.)  The movie takes on a more personal feeling when you know the lead actress is playing a part she not only identifies with, but also fully understands.  Melissa Hoppe wrote an excellent screenplay and Bennett Lasseter directed a film that tackles this issue with an appropriate grace and thoughtfulness.

The American Film Institute (AFI) financed and produced the film, and was supposed to make it available for streaming.  However, two years on and it has yet to do so.  Watching this film, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be if this film were made available to middle schools and high schools to educate about trans-youth and acceptance as it does touch upon the fact that these children develop the same as their cis-counterparts, and that finding out how they were born does not change who they are on the inside, an important lesson for both educators and youth to know.

In addition, other parents have shared that they watched it with their daughters, not because they wanted to scare them, but because they wanted to drive home what could happen if they shared their birth designation with people at the wrong time and/or place.  Some informed me that their daughters still talk about it, which means that the film hit home on an appropriate level.

In keeping with the idea of sharing it with daughters, I’m not sure if Fab is old enough yet, or if it would be better to wait until she is around 10 years of age before watching the film.

I am going to tag a bunch of people on my twitter feed in the hopes that word will spread and people will send emails and tags to the AFI in an effort to get this film made available for public consumption.  It’s rare to come across a film like this,  that has the power to evoke such emotion and understanding on this topic.

Again, thank you Laura, for giving me the opportunity to view this film.  You’re daughter is a beautiful young woman, and I can see big things in her future wherever she decides to take her talents.

I’ve included the trailer below:

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3 thoughts on “Stealth (2015) Thoughts on the Film

    1. Hi Deb, I know the lead actress’ mother and so she was able to share a private feed with me. Unfortunately, I cannot share publicly at this time as it is not mine to share…this is one of the reasons why I’m hitting this hard. AFI was supposed to make it available for streaming online and has not done so yet. I know it will resonate with parents and would be beneficial for others.

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