When Johanna, a 16-year-old transgender Latina, begins her transition and gets kicked out of her home and school, she finds a foster family who loves her and a supportive school principal who helps her graduate and thrive.
***This sympathetic documentary shows how much of a difference mentors can make in the lives of transgender youth. Recommended.
How does it feel when your mom prays everyday for you to be someone else? That’s the struggle Johanna, a 16 year old transgender Latina faces. At first her mom thinks she’s confused, or joking, but as Johanna’s transformation continues, her mom simply can’t handle the fact that her son is Becoming Johanna.
After prayer doesn’t change anything, Johanna’s mom tries therapists and a mental hospital in her quest to “fix” her daughters gender identity. While she was born a boy, Johanna is a young woman on the inside and nothing but living a lie can change that.
Becoming Johanna is a compelling story that follows the struggles transgender teens face every day. In the end, Johanna refuses to let her mother’s rejection define her life and she continues the journey toward becoming comfortable in her own skin. Johanna’s story is as beautiful as she is, and will leave you hopeful that we can build communities that accept all of our children just the way they are.
Becoming Johanna is one of four films in the Youth & Gender Media Project, which together demonstrate how to reach every member of a school community—students, teachers, parents and administrators—to help them create educational settings that welcome all young people, regardless of the where they fall on the spectrum of gender identity and expression. Film contains mature language.
Purchase all four films for the price of three at: https://www.newday.com/film/youth-and-gender-media-project.
Becoming Johanna is a must-see for anyone wanting to understand what it means to grow up trans. We screened the film at Oxnard College and were honored to have Jonathan, the director and Johanna, the main character, join us. It was an unforgettable experience for our community. Johanna gave us clear-eyed lessons of courage and strength. We were left uplifted and hopeful. The evening was a true celebration of the human spirit.
Becoming Johanna allowed our students to build empathy. As a result, they were able to make real life connections and were motivated to act in ways which were more inclusive and affirming to LGBT+ identities.
Becoming Johanna takes us on a remarkable journey of adolescent identity development that is both familiar and totally new. Johanna’s struggle to be understood and accepted by the parents and teachers in her life has universal resonance, yet as a transgender young woman coming of age, Johanna fights for her literal existence. Jonathan Skurnik’s film is a timely resource for high school and college teachers looking for ways to illuminate and ground critical 21st century examinations of gender, family and community.