Austin Film Festival: Transformer


Premiering at the Austin Film Festival, Transformer is a moving documentary telling the story of transgender power lifter Janae Kroczaleski.

Michael Del Monte directs the documentary of the power lifter who struggled with her gender identity for many years–as most transgender people have.  When the former US Marine was outed on a YouTube video as a transgender woman in 2015, her life fell apart.  She still had her children and they couldn’t have been more supportive.  Like so many, she suffered financially as many trans people do upon coming out.  Her children knew at a young age that she was transgender.  They didn’t have a problem unlike her wife, which can be a struggle for many spouses who find out that their partners are transgender.

While family repercussions are very common, it’s the financial side that takes the worst hit.  In this case, Janae’s sponsor, Muscletech, decided not to renew their contract with her.  It’s these sort of moments that truly hurt.  A company has the opportunity to show that they can be an ally only to turn their back.  This speaks to what the company is truly about.

The feelings of wanting to be female led Janae to consider suicide at times during her life.  These thoughts aren’t uncommon for transgender people but we find ways to persevere–in some instances, repressing those feelings for as long as we can while putting on a front.  How does Janae battle through this?  She turned to power lifting to put on all that muscle and appear to be an alpha male.  In a ten year period alone, she starts and stops the transitioning process eight different times.

It’s not uncommon for transgender people to put on a disguise, so to speak, so as to hide their identity.  Feelings so strong shouldn’t have to be repressed but Janae did so for her financial safety net.  The sad reality is that this is something that likely resonates with so many of us within the transgender community.  This may be unfortunate but it is what it is.

“Being openly transgender is really tough,” Janae says close to the end of the film.  These words are words that resonate with me as a transgender woman.

Trans people frequently struggle to find their place when they come out and Transformer does a solid job at documenting Janae Kroczaleski’s struggle.

Transformer, which won the Austin Film Festival jury award for Documentary Feature in partnership with POV, will screen again on October 30, 2017, at 10 PM.  For more information on the film, please click here.

EDIT: Gravitas Ventures will release Transformer in theaters and VOD on October 18, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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