Trans in Trumpland is a four-part docuseries that was dreamed up by filmmaker Tony Zosherafatain the first week Donald Trump assumed the presidency in 2017. “The title just came to me out of nowhere; it just popped into my head randomly one day. I immediately thought to myself, ‘I have to roll with this title and create this film.’ Right after, I sat down and conceptualized the series,” Zosherafatain told POPSUGAR. The director tapped his friend and collaborator Jamie DiNicola (the two run TransWave Films together out of New York), and they launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, sharing their goal with followers and supporters: to document trans lives in some of the most conservative parts of the US, namely red states North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, and Idaho.
“[TransWave Films is] one of the first of its kind — a trans-owned production company putting trans people in leadership positions behind the lens. I just feel like we need this in the world.”
Their film sheds light on the inequalities transgender people faced at the hands of an administration that had no respect or agenda to protect the safety of minorities in our country. Zosherafatain and DiNicola chose subjects who have also faced poverty and racial and immigration discrimination. Their stories are diverse — Ash is affected by North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” which barred the trans community from using restrooms and public facilities that align with their gender identity, and Rebecca, a trans immigrant from Mexico, deals with the extremely difficult and transphobic process of gaining asylum in the US. Meanwhile, army veteran Shane shares his own take on Trump’s efforts to ban transgender recruits from the military — a move Biden’s administration has just reversed.
Zosherafatain, a trans man from Boston now living in NY, quickly understood the difference between his own reality, legally protected by certain state laws, and those of his subjects. Throughout the series, we see him as a character in his own right as he relates to the individuals he’s profiling. The result is a beautifully moving, often emotional narrative that took four years to bring to life and is so, so necessary. “I learned so much about the inequalities that exist within our country, but also the ways in which people are forming communities and the ways we all care for each other,” Zosherafatain said.
Zosherafatain and DiNicola were able to connect with major forces in the LGBTQ+ community to promote and support their work. Trace Lysette of Transparent and Hustlers is an executive producer, as is Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who has been advocating for the trans community for nearly 50 years. I wanted to learn more about what it takes to realize a project that is both meaningful and game changing. TransWave Films, after all, is a film company that doesn’t just bring trans narratives into light but does so with members of the LGBTQ+ community behind the camera. “It’s one of the first of its kind — a trans-owned production company putting trans people in leadership positions behind the lens,” DiNicola said. “I just feel like we need this in the world.”
Keep scrolling to read more about Trans in Trumpland and meet the people it features ahead of the series premiere on Feb. 25, streaming on Topic, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV.