TRINIDAD: Transgender Frontier (K - 12 version)

Trinidad uncovers Trinidad, Colorado’s transformation from Wild West outpost to “sex-change capital of the world”
Year Released
Film Length(s)
85 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


This K - 12 Broadcast version contains no graphic imagery and is suitable for younger and general audiences.

DVD contains a 1 hour lecture and 2 power point presentations by Dr. Marci Bowers, as well as Dr. Bowers's 1 stage vaginoplasty surgery video.

Edifying and intimate, TRINIDAD acquaints viewers with three extraordinary transwomen whose paths cross in an unlikely setting—the unassuming town of Trinidad, Colorado. Against the backdrop of the town’s history of transgender surgery, TRINIDAD invokes the passions and gender politics of these three individuals as they search for a place of empowerment and belonging.

Featured review

TRINIDAD succeeds in presenting the materials for a better understanding of transsexual people and stands to be very instrumental in making the world outside of Trinidad, Colorado a safer place for them to live.
- Film Threat
- Film Threat


Part intimate observational documentary and part educational essay, Trinidad acquaints viewers with three extraordinary trans women whose paths cross in an unlikely setting—the unassuming small town of Trinidad, Colorado. Located on the Santa Fe Trail, where the Rockies fade into the Great Plains, this one-time mafia-run, coal mining town is the destination of more than 6,500 transsexuals, who travel from all across the country with the same bold dream: to align their external bodies with their internal gender identities.

Dr. Marci Bowers, a “rock star” in the world of genital reassignment surgery (GRS), relocated to Trinidad in 2003 to follow in the footsteps of legendary surgeon Dr. Stanley Biber. Sabrina Marcus, an engineer and founder of the Southern Comfort Transgender Conference, and Dr. Laura Ellis, a family practitioner, are two of Marci’s most fascinating patients. Sabrina and Laura have hopes of building a bed-and-breakfast recovery center for post-operative transgender patients in Trinidad, but face setback after logistical setback—and find themselves increasingly at philosophical odds with Marci. Against the backdrop of Trinidad’s remarkable history of transgender surgery,Trinidad invokes the passions and gender politics of these three women as they search for their place of empowerment and belonging in the “sex change capital of the world.”


....The universal themes and the compelling narrative quality of the film make it a must-see.
-Ellen Huang
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
''Who knew that Trinidad, Colorado, with a population of 9,000 was the sex change capital of the world? This documentary about the small town follows several of its transgender residents, including Dr. Marci Bowers--who is herself now one of the world's top doctors for reassignment surgery--capturing the subtle moments of people whose whole lives are love in various states of performance and nuance.''
-The Advocate
-The Advocate
Dynamic and heartfelt in their portraits, Raval and Hodges clearly took great care in choosing their subjects and utilize a sweet, yet haunting inquisitive tone that doesn't let itself get bogged down by the issues and manages to let the characters paint the bigger picture of homophobia in the world around them...
''Fascinating. Avoiding 'before and after' sensationalism, filmmakers Raval and Hodges trace the women's personal stories with curiosity and sensitivity, using quaint, rural Trinidad as a mountain-girdled backdrop.''
-Austin American-Statesman
-Austin American-Statesman

Awards and Screenings

Best Documentary Jury Award Cleveland International Film Festival, 2009
Los Angeles International Film Festival, 2008
Outfest Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, 2008
International Film Festival Boston (IFFB), 2009
Woodstock Film Festival, 2009
Newfest NY LGBT Film Festival, 2009
INSIDE OUT Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, 2009
Starz Denver Film Festival, 2009

Director Commentary

We first learned about Trinidad at a friend's dinner party, from a guest who had recently driven through the town that she said was commonly referred to as "the sex change capital of the world." She had heard it was populated by cowboys and transsexuals that it had the biggest selection of size 12 pumps available anywhere in the nation, that it was a place where people arrived as men and left as women.

Everyone at the table questioned her claim, assuming the majority of sex changes in the country took place in hospitals in large metropolitan cities like New York and Los Angeles, maybe even Chicago - not in a small town tucked into the southeastern corner of Colorado.

The myth of Trinidad lingered. After a few Internet searches, we discovered that Trinidad's local hospital was one of the few in the nation offering genital reassignment surgery (GRS). Through a unique set of circumstances, Trinidad's first GRS had taken place in 1968, performed by Korean War veteran and local rancher Dr. Stanley Biber. We discovered that, thirty-six years and more than 5,500 GRSs later, Dr. Biber was in the process of passing his GRS practice to Dr. Marci Bowers, an OB/GYN from Seattle who also happened to be a transsexual woman. A transsexual helping other transsexuals by performing their GRSs in the unlikely sex-change capital of the world, the one-time mafia-run, coal-mining town of Trinidad, Colorado? Suddenly we had turned up a few promising elements for a story.

We called Marci, who was open to discussing more about the history of Trinidad and her practice - provided we talk to her in person, in Trinidad. Later, we realized she wanted us to experience the town firsthand, outside of the sensationalized articles.

Several weeks later, after almost an hour-and-a-half drive from the Albuquerque airport along I-25, the barren landscape eventually gave way to the Rocky Mountains. Looming over the valley, Hollywood-style, a "TRINIDAD" sign indicated we had reached our destination. The locals take pride in the town's remoteness, calling it "an untouched gem" and "Colorado's best-kept secret." And to an extent they are right. Unlike most American cities, historic Victorian houses still fill the neighborhoods - and Starbucks and mini-malls are nowhere to be found, although Wal-Mart has managed to open a superstore on the edge of town.

Walking along Main Street, a straight road bisecting the town and cobbled with "Trinidad"-stamped bricks, we passed boutiques, shuttered storefronts and a surprising number of bars. We weren't quite sure where to begin, and we were a little taken off guard when someone in a large truck called out, "Welcome to Trinidad!"

While we lingered over a late lunch at the Trinidad Diner, the waitress asked if we were new to town. Unsure how she would feel if we asked her to tell us about the town's transsexual history, we said we were just passing through. We eventually got up the nerve to ask her about Dr. Biber. She laughed and replied, "Well you know what he's known for... He's been my doctor all my life, and do you know about Marci? She just delivered my baby.”

The next day, we interviewed Marci. There were no dumb questions. She willingly discussed who the people were who came to her, what they were seeking, and her role in helping them align their bodies with their minds. We realized the story of Trinidad and Marci's practice had not been told. Eventually, we met Laura and Sabrina, two of Marci's patients, who had moved to Trinidad to open Morning Glow, a bed-and-breakfast/ recovery home for post-operative patients. At that point, the documentary took on a life of its own.

Many films dealing with transgender issues focus on "before and after" stories or the surgical aspects of the transition. While these are elements of any post-operative transsexual individual's history (and thus included in Trinidad), they are also the most sensational.

We feel presenting the women in Trinidad in their everyday lives uncover concerns and challenges everyone faces: acceptance, sense of self and the need to be who you are. We hope Trinidad helps viewers witness the significance of these women's struggles, and encourages thought about their experiences and respect for their differences. We hope viewers will see an aspect of themselves in Marci, Sabrina and Laura.

Ultimately, we hope Trinidad helps viewers see beyond surface differences to the deeper elements of who we are as individuals. As Sabrina so eloquently states, "When people look at me, I hope they think, ‘If she has the guts to be who she is, then I should have the guts to be who I am.'" The experience of making Trinidad has certainly taught us that.

- PJ Raval & Jay Hodges

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • DVD Extras
  • Transcript
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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