Slamdance 2019: Markie in Milwaukee

Markie Wenzel in Markie in Milwaukee.

Markie in Milwaukee follows transgender woman Markie Wenzel over a number of years through her struggles with transitioning and its impact on her life.

We first meet Markie Wenzel in 2013.  This is when she had decided to put off transitioning and go back to living as a man.  The reason for doing so is the toll that it’s taken on her.  She lost her family as a result.  Not only this but her marriage because of coming out.  If losing her family weren’t bad enough, she was no longer welcome at her church.  Pretty much anything shitty that could happen to a transgender person…well, happened.

After a brief portion in 2013, we go back to 2008 when director Matt Kliegmen first meets Markie.  This is more so to set the context of who Markie is and how much faith plays in her life.  This is what makes this particular documentary rather fascinating.  Markie is a conservative transgender woman and seven feet tall.  The latter part is definitely a negative when it comes to transitioning.  People don’t really think of women when they think of people who are seven feet tall.  That’s not to say that they don’t exist but I’m sure they’re out there.

When people think of conservative transgender women, Caitlyn Jenner is usually the one person who people can name.  In watching this documentary, Jenner isn’t alone by any means.  There’s no doubt that Markie’s religious beliefs play into her struggles in being transgender.  If there’s anything I’ve noticed about the transgender community, it’s that people usually give the side eye to those conservative members.  It’s not right or fair but it is what it is.

The film mostly focuses on Markie’s efforts to de-transition and reconcile with her family.  These efforts started well before the current administration came into office and attacked transgender rights.  It also started before those pesky bills forced people like me to come out on Facebook months before we’re ready to do so.  As the film comes to an end, Markie has come to the realization that she is who she is and has to accept it.  For the time being, she chooses to live part-time rather than full-time.

Having come out within a religious community, I can understand Markie’s pain.  There’s nothing worse than losing your friends and family upon coming out as transgender.  I’ve been there and believe me when I tell you that it’s not easy.  I wouldn’t recommend coming out and transitioning unless you absolutely have to do so.  As many of us in the transgender community can tell you, it’s either transition or die.  One can put of transitioning for as long as possible but inevitably, we’re pulled in that direction because it’s who we are.  But enough about my story

We need more stories like Markie in Milwaukee in the public eye so as to help advance transgender rights.

DIRECTOR:  Matt Kliegman
FEATURING:  Markie Wenzel

Markie in Milwaukee holds its world premiere during the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival in the Documentary Features program. Grade: 4/5.

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.