DOC NYC 2018: Little Miss Westie profiles Trans Siblings

Ren McCarthy poses in Little Miss Westie. Photo by Pearl Wolf Productions/Oh My Productions.

Little Miss Westie profiles the McCarthy family during one of the most troubling times for families with transgender children.

Chris and Shelley McCarthy are parents to not one but two transgender children, Ren and Luca.  The film takes its title from the Little Miss Westie pageant, where Ren hopes to compete as the first transgender girl.  Besides this, the film focuses on the family at a time when they are dealing with so many changes.  It’s not just the changes that their children go through with a gender transition but how our country’s political affairs have affected their life.

Luca came out to his parents in high school.  When Ren came out, her parents thought it was just her emulating him.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  When we know, we know.  But sometimes, it takes us longer to get those words out.  The McCarthys were initially confused when Luca came out but they eventually came around.

It’s funny how the family thought they would not be competing in a pageant again after Luca.  Luca’s experience does help Ren because of his having experience pre-transition.  The pageant takes up some focus of the documentary but there’s a deeper story outside of the competition.

While Ren looks to compete, Luca is dealing with puberty and dating.  With being on testosterone, Lucas is dealing with the hormonal changes that come with being a teenager.

There is a strong focus on how the family reacts to the election of the president.  Just as with everyone else, they rush to get documents in order.  This is because of the fear that the incoming administration would be undoing all the progress under President Obama.  To give you a time frame, this film was shot from early 2016 through late September 2017.

There’s a scene in the documentary where they are attending a support group for transgender teens.  A few of them are on camera while talking about their experiences.

“People don’t like to be told they’re transphobic even if they’re being transphobic,” one of the teens say.  “I like to turn around and be like, ‘It’s funny that you say Yas Queen to me because I’m not a drag queen’….I’m just being me.”

Back to the family again, Ren and Luca are just like any normal children.  They fight and bicker as any sibling does with each other.  Luca–serving as Ren’s coach–doesn’t see Ren having the passion required to win the pageant.

Shelley McCarthy speaks about the father of a trans woman in her 20s and how she came to want surgery.  It came down to if she’s ever attacked, she doesn’t want it being turned into a murder.  Shelley recounts her feelings of when she learned this.  This is the reality for the transgender community.  There’s an increasing number killed each year, especially trans women of color.

Films such as Little Miss Westie are important because we’re experiencing a time in which transgender rights are under attack.  I don’t have to tell you just how many of our rights have been rolled back under the Trump Administration.  The damage has been enough to where Trans Lifeline is on the receiving end of some of the highest amount of phone calls received.  This is just one story.  There are more stories just waiting to be told.

DIRECTORS:  Joy E. Reed & Dan Hunt
FEATURING:  The McCarthy Family

Little Miss Westie held its world premiere during DOC NYC 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.