vlada knowlton

In 2014 my husband and I were not well prepared for the discovery that our youngest child was transgender. At that time the amount of accurate and reliable information about what it means to be born transgender was sparse and difficult to find. However, we listened to our child and did as much research as we could. We emerged from that shaking experience with a happier, healthier family and a world of knowledge and understanding. Around that time, I also remember telling my husband that I couldn’t imagine ever making a film about this topic. It felt to me like a topic that was so personal and so close to the bone that I didn’t think I could ever do it justice.

In December 2015 my friend and parent support group founder, Aidan Key, called and told me that there were dark times coming our way; an unprecedented wave of anti-transgender legislation was about to hit our country and our state. He told me this because he was hoping I could document what was about to happen to the local transgender community and their loved ones. It was at that point that I realized I no longer had the luxury of considering making a film about transgender children optional. This was no longer about me; this was about fighting for the human and civil rights of an extremely vulnerable and under-represented population of people. If I didn’t make this film, who would?

I began filming that same month. Among other events, I filmed the tense and prejudicial Senate hearing for the anti-trans bill SB 6443, the somewhat atypical Superior Court hearings that covered the I-1515 ballot title challenge, the contentious Senate Town Hall meetings, and the vitriolic and chaotic press event organized by the group sponsoring I-1515.

Thankfully there were also events that were more pleasant - sometimes even joyful - to document, such as the Snohomish School District meetings and all the gatherings and rallies that involved our small but impassioned community of transgender rights activists and allies.

Through it all I forced myself to take off my Mama Bear hat and put on my Filmmaker hat whenever necessary, doing everything I needed to do to remove myself from emotional turmoil and craft a film that I felt could make a difference. It was very important to me to tell the story in an objective and factual way and let both sides of the battle speak for themselves in their own voices. I believed that representing the anti-transgender-rights arguments clearly and authentically would best serve the film’s audience when thinking through the issues. As difficult as that was, I found that as a parent, when you are forced to defend your child’s life and future, your reservoir of fortitude is limitless.