The Most Dangerous Year: A Battle for Trans Rights

Trans Pride Parade in The Most Dangerous Year

The Most Dangerous Year is an important documentary with a focus on families fighting against anti-transgender rights legislation.

This documentary is personal for director Vlada Knowlton.  Her youngest daughter was five years old upon coming out but started showing signs of being transgender two years earlier.  The director comments in the film that “it was a terrifying time for us.”  Struggling to accept their child’s gender identity was one thing but the next year proved to be even worse.

In addition to their daughter, the film follows the Trainer, Mitchell, Kelly, and Blakefield families.  All of them have a transgender son or daughter.  By focusing on the children, Knowlton is able to show how vulnerable LGBTQ youth can be.

Washington was one of many states dealing with bathroom bills or ballot initiatives in state legislatures.  They had a total of six bills filed but only SB 7443 stood the best chance of reaching the floor for a vote.  Washington is an initiative state so the government requires 300,000 signatures before an initiative can land on the ballot.  Just Want Privacy, an anti-transgender rights organization, filed several initiatives to prevent transgender people, especially students, from using the bathroom aligning with their gender identity.  The town hall events got ugly really quick with the amount of protesters espousing their viewpoints.

The film follows the bills’ movement while also interviewing those for and against.  It’s pretty sad that so many people have their own idea of what a transgender person is.  These also include sexual abuse survivors–some of which view trans women as sexual predators.  They claim that they are compassionate and yet feel that people should use the restroom of their genitalia.  It’s ideas like these that lead to a transgender person opting against using a public restroom.  If a transgender women is forced to use the men’s room, it’s the trans woman who has the highest risk of being assaulted.

Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib notes that there has been zero documented evidence regarding trans people being more likely to be a predator than the general population.  He’s not the only one to note this.  James Ritter has served in the Seattle Police Department for 36 years.  Not once has he had to respond to a call about a trans person assaulting anyone in the restroom.  Among cities with anti-discrimination laws in place, there is zero evidence for trans people being predatory!

The discussion of transgender people and how we’re perceived must include the medical community to deliver the science.  The science comes by way of Drs. Kevin Hatfield and Johanna Olsen-Kennedy.  They especially push that being trans is not a mental illness and one’s gender identity is in the brain.  Despite the chromosomes that develop the sexual characteristics, Olson-Kennedy notes that “trajectories go off the path.”  This leads to transgender women having brains similar to cis women and trans men similar to cis men.

Of course, statistics have to be hammered home in films like these.  Whether it’s numbers of trans people avoiding the bathroom or getting assaulted by being forced to use the wrong bathroom, the numbers are there.  Most tellingly is the decision to cite the percentage of trans people who attempt suicide because of being rejected.

Not to get personal but HB2 in North Carolina forced me to come out on Facebook because it was the only place at the time where I could truly be myself.  You have to wonder what truly goes through the minds of people signing these ballot initiatives.  Do they ever stop to think about the harm they cause to someone that they’ve never met.

Capturing the perspective from families with transgender children, The Most Dangerous Year is a compelling documentary showing that transgender rights matter.

DIRECTOR:  Vlada Knowlton
FEATURING:  Aidan Key, Cyrus Habib, Sen. Joe Fain, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Dr. Kristina Olson, Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Dr. Kevin Hatfield, James Ritter, Asaf Orr, David Ward, Erika Laurentz

The Most Dangerous Year premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival.  The film will screen at the Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival on August 10, 2018. Grade: 4/5

UPDATE: The Most Dangerous Year is now available on Digital/VOD.

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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