But Mark Janavel, a filmmaker and University of Pittsburgh alum, believes Trump presented a danger to trans lives from the start, citing how numerous trans youths “allegedly took their own lives” as a direct response to his election.
“Trump’s coming into office has impeded the upward progress of trans folks in a time when it was finally starting to pick up speed,” says Janavel. “It has given transphobes, bigots, and fascists a leader who turns a blind eye, allows or even sympathizes with them in a time when they themselves felt defeated and were looking for a sign that their opinions and feelings were righteous, and that’s terrifying, and in some cases, a death sentence for trans folks.”
He explores this further with Transient: First 100 Days of Trump, his documentary film looking at the trans community's reaction to Trump’s first 100 days in office. On Sat., July 20, the Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church will screen the film and host a discussion with Janavel.
Using a $5,000 grant awarded to him from former Pittsburgh nonprofit the Sprout Fund, Janavel set out to capture trans people's views expressed in their own words.
“The film’s mission remains the same as it always has, and that’s simply to get these people’s voices ahead of those who are constantly speaking for them, standing in their way, not allowing them the microphone, et cetera,” says Janavel.
He hopes the film helps to empower trans viewers and reaches other groups who “need to see it,” specifically “those in power, mostly cis, who either are ignorant or chose to ignore the issues of trans folks because they are different problems from their own.”
“I’m hoping cisgender viewers will walk away from this film with a new perspective on what’s happening right down the street, in their neighborhoods, to their fellow Americans,” says Janavel. “I’m hoping they will watch with the intention of understanding, not just watching to see if their beliefs are understood. I want them to want to help.”