It is fair to say that for a long time, the Trans community was not represented in the mainstream media at all.
Even until relatively recently, there were few movies and TV shows that were addressing issues that affected Trans people and reflected their everyday lives.
In recent times, that has changed quite markedly. As society has become more open to Trans communities, so too have more shows and movies started to be produced that focus on Trans issues.
With Netflix revolutionising the way people are watching and consuming movies these days, it will come as absolutely no surprise that it is here where many of these Trans movies can be found.
If you are exploring Trans issues for the first time or looking for the best movies that portray the Trans community these days, which ones should you be heading towards?
In this guide, we will provide you with a rundown of the top 10 Trans movies on Netflix:
Disclosure is a documentary that takes a deep dive into the way that Hollywood has traditionally portrayed the Trans community and also how this is starting to change.
It also addresses how the portrayal of Trans people on film can have a real knock-on impact for Trans people in the real world and how they are treated by others.
The film features Hollywood insiders such as Sam Feder, Amy Scholder, Laverne Cox, and Lilly Wachowski.
It also attempted to hire as many Trans crew members as possible and those that were not from the Trans community were tasked with mentoring a Trans trainee.
The result is a powerful and insightful film that has been welcomed by critics and the Trans community alike.
2. Born Beautiful
Born Beautiful offers sheer unadulterated camp fun in a roller-coaster celebration of one person coming to terms with their true identity.
Barbs Cordero works as a beautician in a mortuary but after two of her best friends die, she tries to start a new life as a straight man called Bobby.
Needless to say things don’t go to plan and Barbs ends up with her late best friends ex-boyfriend Michaelangelo and her own ex-boyfriend who is rather more conservatively called Greg.
Then a woman arrives who claims she is pregnant and Barbs is the father. Pandemonium ensues.
Born Beautiful stars Martin del Rosario as Barbs and also features turns from Paolo Ballasteros, VJ Mendoza, and Kiko Matos. It is unashamedly pro-Trans and great fun to watch.
From the fun to the powerful, Girl is a movie that looks at the huge challenges and obstacles that a young person faces coming to terms with their Trans identity.
It tells the story of Lara, a fifteen year old girl who is dedicated to becoming a professional ballet dancer. Her father does everything he can to support her quest to achieve her dreams but Lara faces an even bigger challenge.
She is also coming to terms with the fact that she was born a boy. This creates physical challenges as a ballet dancer that are not easy to overcome and there are also huge emotional challenges too as she prepares for surgery.
Girl gives a hugely emotional insight into what all Trans people have to go through on their journey and makes for an epic movie.
It stars Victor Polster who excels in the role of Lara. He is ably supported by the likes of Tijmen Govaerts, Valentijn Dhaenens, and Angelo Tijssens who also co-wrote the script with director Lukas Dhont.
4. Paris is Burning
Another documentary on Trans issues, this one picked up a prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Paris is Burning is a rare example of a depiction of the Trans Community that was made some time ago, in this case back in 1990. It takes an in-depth look at the 1980’s drag scene in New York, with a particular focus on poor black and Latino participants.
All aspects of the reality of the Trans world at that time are featured including the ballrooms, the categories, the houses, and, of course, the voguing.
But perhaps more insightful than that is the insight into the individuals who are part of the scene at that time.
We find out about their journey’s, their emotions, their hopes and dreams, and the challenges they have faced in a society that was far less accepting of Trans people than we are today.
While there are difficult stories, there is also much fun and laughter and merriment with some legendary names from the New York Trans scene featuring Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, and Paris Dupree.
5. The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson
An altogether darker storyline, but no less essential for viewers wanting to learn more about the Trans community is The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson.
This documentary looks at the mysterious death of Marsha P Johnson, who was one of the best-known personalities in New York’s Greenwich Village before being found dead shortly after Gay Pride in 1992.
Her death was the latest in a series of mysterious deaths in the local gay and Trans community. It came just after she herself had attended a protest demanding that more be done to protect the community.
The death was initially dismissed as suicide despite no evidence to support this claim.
In this film, Trans crime advocate Victoria Cruz looks deeper, re-examining the evidence and speaking to contemporaries while at the same time celebrating the life of Marsha P Johnson and another victim Sylvia Rivera.
6. Super Deluxe
You might not think of Tamil cinema as the place to go for Trans stories, but in Super Deluxe, Thiagarajan Kumararaja, brings a trans storyline into a film that follows four separate stories as naturally as anything Hollywood has produced.
Super Deluxe has been described as the Pulp Fiction of Tamil cinema and it is easy to see why.
The four separate storylines feature a couple trying to get rid of a dead body, a young boy excited to meet his estranged father for the first time, a son learning about his mother’s secrets, and a religious man starting to question his faith.
It is packed with drama and dark comedy and the way the storylines are tied together is deeply satisfying.
The performance of Vijay Sethupathi as the Trans character Shilpa is without doubt the standout, but this is a great ensemble movie and does a superb job of integrating a Trans storyline into a regular movie, and a World cinema piece at that.
7. The Danish Girl
The star of the Danish Girl, Eddie Redmayne, has suggested that he would not have accepted the part today as it should have gone to a Trans actor.
Whatever your thoughts on the merits of that, there is no taking away from the fact that he gives an extraordinary performance in this powerful and entertaining film.
Set in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the 1920’s, The Danish Girl tells the fictionalised story of Einar Wegener and his wife Gerda.
They are artists and happily married but one day Einar poses for his wife wearing a dress before later attending a party dressed as a woman. Both are considered a joke at the time.
But Einar quickly realises that she is a woman and comes to prefer living as her alter-ego, Lily. Misguided attempts to ‘cure’ Einar end in failure and her journey ends in the first ever sex change operation.
Alongside Redmayne are turns from Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Wishaw, and Adrian Schiller. While not on British Netflix, The Danish Girl is available on US Netflix and in many other country libraries around the world.
Discover how to access the US Netflix catalog in any country here.
Tangerine is currently only in the Netflix US library but is well worth using a VPN to unlock.
It is a low-budget movie shot on three iPhone 5S smartphones using a clip on lens and an $8 app. It tells the tale of two Trans women on a journey through Hollywood in search for a pimp that has wronged one of them.
Trans Prostitute Sin-Dee has only just got out of jail and she wants revenge on the man who put her there. Which is why she teams up with her friend Alexandra to go and seek her out.
It’s a movie built around characters rather than issues but that is not to take away from the powerful storylines that are touched upon.
While none of the characters are particularly likable, the performances from Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor are exceptional while there is a more than able support cast backing them up.
It is chaotic, fun, and inspiring in its own unique way and certainly offers a less than conventional look at Trans characters in a more typical movie set-up.
Not to be confused with the all-action, special effects laden Transformers franchise, Transformer is the tale of Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski, a former US Marine and world record weightlifter who was outed as being transgender.
The negative response she received was overwhelming. Her parents disowned her, her sponsors dropped her, and she was banned from competing.
After renaming herself as Janae, she attempts to rebuild her life and deal with the fact that she cannot lose the muscle mass she built up in her previous life.
The film looks at how she manages with this situation, how society handles a muscular 250lb woman, and how she copes with the journey from being an athletic alpha male to an insecure woman.
This is a powerful documentary from director Michael Del Monte with Janae Kroczaleski providing a captivating and moving starting role.
10. Lingua Franca
Lingua Franca tells the tale of Olivia, an undocumented Filipino Trans woman who is working as a carer for an elderly Russian woman, Olga, in Brooklyn.
Olivia’s journey to become a US citizen appears to be coming to a bad end but she then becomes romantically involved with Olga’s grandson Alex, and the prospect of a green card through marriage raises both a big opportunity and some massive challenges.
Lingua Franca is a beautifully pitched arthouse movie which is high on emotion and rooted in the performances of its three main protagonists.
Isabel Sandoval is exceptional as Olivia and her connection with Eamon Farren as Alex and Lynn Cohen as Olga makes this movie the special experience that it is.
Sandoval also wrote and directed Lingua Franca and is a testament to her excellent work and her passion for the issues this movie covers that it is such as standout piece.
While it may only be in more recent times that Trans issues have moved into the mainstream, those issues, and the Trans community, have been around for much longer.
As this list demonstrates, there are some amazing Trans movies available on Netflix. A few date back to when awareness of Trans issues first began to emerge in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
More movies have been made in recent years and encouragingly, Trans stories have also started to become integrated into regular movies.
But whether you are looking for documentaries, drama’s, or light-hearted movies, there is a Trans movie waiting for you on Netflix.
What’s your favorite movie and do you think Trans issues are covered genuinely? I would love to know, so drop me a comment below.