This very compelling documentary is the tale of Kim Byford, who at the age of 49 had decided that the time is finally right to complete her transition from female to male. It is a journey that was started when as a 13 year old girl she was constantly bullied and picked on by her schoolmates and others, and she dreamed of being the boy that she always thought she was.
Kim had been brought up in a conservative and religious household where she was never encouraged to share her feelings, and as she was so ashamed of the rough treatment being handed out to her by her peers, she just said nothing.
As a young adult Kim was heavy set and with her short hair and baggy clothing was often mistaken as a man, and although the film does not go into many details for all her adult life up to now, she does admit to having spent an unhappy drug-fueled decade when she was out of it most of the time. Even now as the film starts it seems that she is unemployed, and there is no attempt to explain how she gets by.
However the very likable Kim is very affable as she talks with great enthusiasm about her two great passions in life. Jiving and becoming a man before her 50th birthday
Writer/director Aaron Bear, in this his debut feature, lets Kim’s story unfold and at the same time he mixes it with a series of very insightful talking heads. They include the former porn star Buck Angel who is now a motivational speaker and activist and one of the most articulate and forthright FTM’s; Calpernia Adams whose own transitioning was the the core of the movie Soldiers Girl and who is now a leading transgender activist; Carmen Carrera who transitioned after being a contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race; and Dan Savage the gay author, media pundit, journalist and activist.
Most give sound advice as they comment on the changing landscape of transitioning, although none can really agree on what Kim should do about one of the major problems that she is stressed about, and that is whether she could tell her aged parents or not.
The surgeon that Kim choses to perform her ‘top surgery’ is Dr. Tony Manguba who is not only the reassuring expert that Kim badly needs, but he proves also to be a refreshing pro-active voice and driving force who is determined to help make all the procedures as effective as he can to meet his patients needs.
Bear doesn’t spare us at all with some of the bloodier details, and includes some quite evasive close up footage of Kim’s operation so that we too can grasp the physical pain and risk of the surgery, which gladly was a a major success.
The end result is a happy Kim dancing the night away celebrating his 50th Birthday bearing a wide grin that he had never even shown a hint of until now. However the real importance of telling his story is not just about that, but much more about a continuing dialogue that we all need to be a part of to help fully understand what people go through to transition. And secondly inspire others to give them the strength and courage to also find their true selves, just like Kim did.
An unmissable wee gem of a film.