“Man Made,” a Film About Transgender Bodybuilders, Upends the Traditional Documentary Gaze

From The New Yorker:  https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/man-made-a-film-about-transgender-bodybuilders-upends-the-traditional-documentary-gaze

By
November 26, 2018

On a Friday evening in October, before the New York première of “Man Made”—a documentary about the world’s only all-transgender bodybuilding competition—the film’s creators gathered at a tin-ceilinged bar in Chelsea called Underballs. (The bar is situated beneath a meatball shop.) T Cooper, the film’s forty-six-year-old director and co-writer, in a blue-velvet blazer and a neat beard, cast around for the small plates of meatballs that were arriving from upstairs. “I went with the chicken,” he said, before conversation turned to vegetarianism. The party grew noisy as film types and activists arrived, though there was also an undercurrent of tension. Five days earlier, the Trump Administration had released a memo announcing its intention to revoke federal recognition of trans and intersex people. Guests alluded darkly to “the news” and “this week.” Andrea Jenkins, a Minneapolis city councilwoman and the first trans person elected to public office in America, wore a shirt bearing the word “HUMAN.” Taj Smith, an activist who had been campaigning to uphold an anti-discrimination law in Massachusetts, in the midterms, said, “It takes about seven conversations for people to actually be able to identify that this is about something that’s bigger than bathrooms.”

Cooper had arrived in New York from a film festival in Tennessee, but the journey to Underballs began four years earlier, when he moved with his wife and co-writer, Allison, to Atlanta. A friend posted a photograph online from a nascent bodybuilding competition, which was open to anyone who identifies as a trans man. The image showed five participants posing at a bar in the city—the inaugural venue. “I hate the word bravery, ’cause when people tell me I’m brave I want to give them the finger,” Cooper said. But he was awed by the participants’ bravery, and by “how many versions of masculinity, and trans masculinity, were celebrated and welcomed.” Cooper is a novelist, TV writer, and a journalist, and he initially considered writing about the competition. But he eventually concluded that it should be filmed, even though he had never made a feature-length documentary before. His friend Téa Leoni, an actress and an executive producer of the film, recalled that, after speaking with him for about twenty minutes, “I thought, Somebody’s got to do this. And T knew—and I knew—that it should be T.”

“Man Made” begins where it ends: at the 2016 Trans FitCon competition. It opens in the “pump-up room”—a storage area at a hotel in Atlanta—where the men wear tight briefs and lift weights, waiting to be called onstage. The film then flashes back, and follows four contestants as they prepare for the contest. It is ostensibly a competition documentary, but its real attention is on the subjects’ personal lives. Early in the film, Dominic Chilko, a twenty-six-year-old Minnesotan with a roguish smile, undergoes a long-awaited top surgery. Afterward, groggy from the anesthesia, he tells his mother that it feels strange not to have breasts anymore. His mother, with Midwestern pragmatism, replies, “But you didn’t want ’em. So . . . there you go.” Later, Chilko, who is adopted, drives to meet his birth mother, psyching himself up in the car the way he would at the gym. They share a microphone-crushing hug, their expressions identical. “This beats, like, every fuckin’ moment I’ve ever had, like, including my top surgery,” he says. “And everybody knows my top surgery was my shit.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/man-made-a-film-about-transgender-bodybuilders-upends-the-traditional-documentary-gaze

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Trump administration asks Supreme Court to immediately take up transgender military ban

From The LA Times:  https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-transgender-military-ban-20181123-story.html

By Robert Barnes
Nov 23, 2018

The Trump administration on Friday once again asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual legal process to take on another controversial issue — President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from military service.

Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco asked the justices to consolidate the challenges to the ban — which so far have been successful in lower courts — and rule on the issue in its current term.

The challenges are to the administration’s order that would prohibit transgender men and women from enlisting, possibly subject current service members to discharge and deny certain medical care. The order reverses an Obama administration policy allowing transgender men and women to serve openly and to receive funding for sex-reassignment surgery.

Federal judges so far have prohibited the Trump order from being implemented.

“The decisions imposing those injunctions are wrong, and they warrant this Court’s immediate review,” Francisco wrote.

Trump in July 2017 surprised military leaders and members of Congress when he abruptly announced the proposed ban in several tweets. Trump said he was “doing the military a great favor” by “coming out and just saying it.”

Challengers have used such statements to argue that the directive is the result of discrimination rather than a study of how allowing transgender personnel affects the military, and lower court judges largely have agreed.

“There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all. In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a case filed in the District of Columbia.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear an appeal of the ruling next month.

Continue reading at:  https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-transgender-military-ban-20181123-story.html

See Also:

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to hear transgender military case

Trump Asks Supreme Court for Fast Appeal on Transgender Military Ban

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