Fresh on the heels of putting nine-year-old transgender girl Avery Jackson on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, the National Geographic Channel now offers "Gender Revolution," a feature-length documentary which explains it all for you.
"Gender Revolution" is hosted by Katie Couric, who came under fire in 2014 when, on her since canceled chat show, she asked trans model Carmen Carrera a question about her genitalia. The longtime TV journalist had no qualms about admitting that she made a mistake. Putting her money where her mouth is, Couric educated herself.
"Gender Revolution" is the result.
The film, which premiered on National Geographic Channel on Feb. 6, is now available for online viewing at the channel's website, but you'll need to provide the site with your cable/satellite provider's name and your account number in order to unlock the video. There may be additional airings on the channel itself.
The scope of the film's coverage is breathtaking. Couric opens with several segments on intersex people--those who are born with both female or male genitalia, or genitalia which might be considered undetermined. In the past, doctors would perform surgeries on such children--the doctors and the parents would choose whether or not the child should be a boy or a girl.
As Brian Douglas tells Couric, this can be a recipe for disaster. Brian had his first surgery at 11 months old--he was assigned female, his mother's choice. Throughout his life Brian knew that he wasn't "Diane" and confronted his parents when he realized that his birth certificate had been altered. After being told the truth, Brian transitioned at age fifty and has been his happiest ever since.
"Gender Revolution" takes the time to explain the science of being intersex or transgender. Brain formations and mixtures of male/female hormones in the womb are among the causes. These sequences underscore what any trans or intersex person already knows--that these things are not choices. People can only be happy when they live as their authentic selves.
Couric travels across the country and meets many trans and intersex people, like Michele Mendelsohn of Los Angeles, a transgender woman who owns six Mexican restaurants. Mendelson made a point of hiring transgender people at all of her locations. Several employees tell Couric about how being gainfully employed has increased their sense of self-worth.
The trans bathroom controversy is also explored in a lengthy interview with Virginia teen Gavin Grimm, who just wants a safe space where he can pee while at school. Grimm, whose lawsuit will soon be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, is seen testifying before his local school board--many parents speak out against him, though none are able to pinpoint exactly what they're afraid of.
Couric meets other students, some of whom become her teacher. They explain to her the many different ways people can identity in today's world. There are a plethora of pronouns to choose from, just pick the one which best suits you.
"Gender Revolution" also explores the feelings of those who must accept the transitions of people they love--the film points out that when a person transitions, everyone around them must also transition. As one woman says when her husband of forty years tells her that he's really a woman: "I had to say goodbye to Bill and say hello to Kate."
Most importantly, "Gender Revolution" teaches us that ignorance isn't bliss. It's OK to ask questions and to learn. "Gender Revolution" is therefore quite an education.