At a time when trans rights are under assault from the ballot box to the White House, one filmmaker is fighting to bring the story of a trans bathroom victory to states that have considered bathroom bills.
Growing Up Coy is the heart-wrenching story of a transgender 6-year-old, Coy Mathis, and her parents’ fight for her right to use the girls’ bathroom at a Colorado elementary school. But it’s also a deep exploration of the agonizing decision LGBTQ families face in pursuing landmark cases that throw them into the media spotlight.
In 2013, Mathis made history when the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled she had a right to use the bathroom that aligned with her gender identity, a landmark win for transgender rights.
But the media storm wears on the Mathis family. Coy visibly struggles through the onslaught of interviews. Her parents temporarily separates, and her brother grapples with the reality of having a famous sibling.
While not every transgender child is catapulted into fame, elements of the Mathis’ struggle will resonate with other families trying to support their transgender children. The family makes the difficult decision to reshuffle their lives and homeschool all of their children after Coy is refused access to the girls’ bathroom at her school. They debate how to talk to friends and neighbors about Coy, and how to coach Coy through difficult conversations with other kids and adults.
Director Eric Juhola wants to bring the film to states that have considered passing anti-trans bathroom bills.
“I think the primary hope is that transgender kids and their families who are living in these communities don’t feel alone and don’t feel isolated and realize that there are other families and kids going through the same thing that they are,” Juhola tells INTO. “I think it can be really easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world going through this when you live in a community that doesn’t have support and resources.”
Juhola and his team are working with LGBTQ organizations across the country to determine which communities could benefit most from screenings of Growing Up Coy, which has been cut down from its hour-and-a-half to an hour for the tour.
The filmmaker is aiming to raise $15,000 on Kickstarter to fund the screenings. Juhola hopes the film can be shown in communities where LGBTQ resources are most lacking.
Growing Up Coyhas already screened across Texas and is now destined for Alabama and South Carolina.
The tour comes at a time when transgender rights areunder attackin legislatures throughout the country.Anchorage, Ala.will vote by mail on bathroom measure that has been condemned as the worst the U.S. has seen yet. Montana is also expected to see a measure on the ballot as early as this summer. And in Massachusetts, voters will decide whether or not to rollback anti-discrimination protections for transgender people in November.
In February, the Trump AdministrationreversedObama-era protections for transgender students in bathrooms and locker rooms.
Juhola hopes the film can serve as a counterpoint such attacks on trans rights, no matter where it travels.
“I think it’s just very very different state to state depending on what’s going on with the state politics especially in these states that have introduced bathroom bills,” Juhola says. “Even when the bathroom bills don’t pass, there’s such hateful rhetoric going around that and money put into campaigns and commercials that it can be just very painful and hurtful to the trans and larger LGBT communities in these areas.”
Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images