TranScreen Film Festival’s first edition was in 2010, it takes place every two years and it is already the largest gender film festival that takes place in Europe. This festival is created for and by transgender people and allies of the community.
This year, TranScreen will take place at the Kriterion Film Theater located in Amsterdam on May 31st and June 1st and is currently accepting submissions regarding subjects of interest to the Transgender and Gender Diverse community such as the life of sex workers, trans refugees, how youth deals with platforms such as YouTube and trans experiences within their family context. Since the deadline for submitting is February 1st, the program for which films will be showcased at this year’s edition of TranScreen is still unavailable.
Throughout TranScreen diverse kind of films are showcased; professional and non-professional, long, short, mainstream and experimental. This event has a social mission to it and that is to spread awareness about issues regarding the trans community.
This is a safe place where everyone is welcome to be themselves in public regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. It houses thousands of people from all over the world with whom you can share and learn from their own personal experiences.
Ticket prices are € 9 for regular tickets, € 7 for students, people over sixty five and those who have purchased the City Pass or € 30 for four bulk tickets and it does not offer only great quality films but also discussion panels, Q and A’s, workshops and even an after party.
“I think it’s very important that trans people have their own spaces away from the LGBT community because the LGBT community, without wanting to be disrespectful, usually revolves around gay men, so that we have a place that is only about us, and where we can express ourselves.” Says Rick, a 19-year-old trans man the first time he was at the festival.
The Netherlands have come a long way when it comes to transgender rights, most recently on December 18th, 2013 the Dutch Senate approved the law on transgender rights which allows transgender people to change the gender marker in their official identity papers and under this new law, everyone over sixteen years old is allowed to file a request to change to their preferred gender.
Besides TranScreen Film Festival, events regarding the transgender community, such as the annual Trans Pride Film Night which celebrates trans lives with pride through a lineup of films exploring their lives and experiences, are becoming more and more common which is a step forward into accomplishing gender equality since they are raising awareness and spreading information about this community.
It is true that throughout the years the world has evolved in terms of LGBT+ rights and matters but it is also true that we usually see the LGBT+ community as a whole rather than each of their members individually, or we only take some of them into consideration, as Rick mentioned. LGBTTTIQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-Spirit, Intersexual and Queer so there are actually eight communities forming part of this fight for diverse sexuality rights and truth is, most of the time only the first three are taken into consideration and not much information is out there about the other members.
TranScreen covers subjects and challenges that trans people go through every day. Even though steps have been taken to fight for their rights there is still no non-discrimination law that includes gender identity, in other words, they still lack legal protection, and this leads us to the next challenge they have to face which is poverty. In most of the cases the lack of protection from the law translates into unemployment for transgender people with higher rates for transgender people of color, according to The National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS). And, being unable to afford basic living necessities can result in people engaging in underground economies like drug sales or survival sex work which are situations that some transgender people find themselves immersed into.
They face harassment and violence. The NTDS reports that 22 percent of transgender people who had interacted with police experienced harassment from them, with transgender people of color also reporting much higher rates. Six percent reported physical assault; 2 percent reported sexual assault; and 20 percent reported having been denied equal service by law enforcement. “Nearly half of the transgender people surveyed in the study said that they were uncomfortable turning to police for help.” The police not setting the example to treat everyone equally and with respect can lead to people thinking is alright to treat someone like that.
Transgender people struggle to receive good access to healthcare and to have their identity documents since many states require evidence that there has been medical transition which is not a possibility for everybody since it really expensive and not something all transgender people want to go through. Without identity documents, one cannot travel, register for school or have access to many other services.
For all the reasons listed above, it is important to have events like TranScreen happening since they are raising awareness and informing people on the matter. The fact that awareness about the transgender community is increasing is an important step towards the fight for diverse sexuality rights. Sam Bourcier, queer activist and professor at the University of Lille says “[…] Only a festival can ensure this function, both political and educational, which allows to generate empowerment for trans people, and to reaffirm that another genre is possible.”