WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the leaders of Transilient, a traveling multi-media project which documents transgender and gender non-conforming people in their day-to-day lived realities using only their voices, announced a new strategic partnership with PFLAG National—the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies. PFLAG National will underwrite the newest Transilient project, Climbing Every Mountain, a series that will document the crucial need for behavioral and medical health care for transgender, gender-expansive, and nonbinary people living in the Appalachia region.
Filming began on November 12th, 2019, with the Transilient team setting out on tour to capture stories in Charleston, WV; Roanoke, VA; Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; and Knoxville, TN. The tour will wrap up on November 25th, 2019, with editing of the full project taking place over the next several months. The full-length pieces will be released on International Transgender Day of Visibility; March 31st, 2020.
"Mental health begins in the home,” said James Heatherly, Director of Film for Transilient, speaking on behalf of the team. “Throughout this tour, we're learning that home is more than just a place. It's acceptance, freedom, and an act to make the world a more holistic space of becoming."
The Transilient team—an entirely transgender and Southern road crew—has packed their days filming live interviews, additional footage, and taking photo portraits as they travel around the Appalachian Mountains. Capturing the stories, culture, and lives of transgender, gender-expansive, and nonbinary people, the are gaining a greater understanding of regional access to healthcare and of the community itself.
Series subject highlights include a trans-identified government blue-collar worker in the suburbs of Charleston, WV; a trans-identified clinician in the countryside of Roaonke, VA; a nonbinary artist and tea connoisseur in the outskirts of Asheville, NC; and many more. The final project will include over a dozen interviews.
A newly released report, Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America, underscores the painful lived reality of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people in rural areas which Climbing Every Mountain will highlight. According to the report:
Rural transgender people are more than twice as likely—and rural transgender people of color are nearly four times more likely—as the general rural population to be unemployed and living in poverty, despite being more likely to have a college degree;
27% of transgender people and 33% of transgender people of color in rural areas travel 75 miles or more to visit their transgender-related healthcare providers; and
Rural transgender people are six times more likely and rural transgender people of color are 20 times more likely than the general U.S. population to be HIV+.
Due to these disparities--and the crisis of violence and discrimination against transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people--the PFLAG National Board of Directors earlier this week released a new Policy Statement. In it, PFLAG commits to “...deploy[ing] its resources to listen to, engage, and bolster diverse transgender communities and the organizations that serve them, lifting up actions to increase opportunities for fair and just employment, housing, healthcare, and access to public services… .”
“I received outreach from the leaders of Transilient about Climbing Every Mountain, and our leadership was all in, without hesitation,” said PFLAG National Director of Communications Liz Owen. “PFLAG is honored and committed to lifting up and centering these stories of the trans community in Appalachia, captured by an entirely trans-led team, through this important project.”
To learn more, visit wearetransilient.com/climbing-every-mountain, and follow Transilient on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. PFLAG National will share the film--and additional materials--between now and March 31st on their social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Transilient is a traveling multi-media project that candidly documents transgender and gender non-conforming people in their day-to-day lived realities using only their voices. The project attempts to humanize, educate and destroy the assumption that trans folks are solely defined by their physical experience and their oppression. To bring about understanding and tackle transphobia, Transilient aims to weave transgender lives into the overall human experience instead of merely focusing on the transition, with the objective of creating a platform that is accessible to all people, in and out of the trans community. Learn more at wearetransilient.com
PFLAG is the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies. With over 400 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas across America, PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed. To learn more, visit pflag.org, like us on Facebook (/pflag), or follow us on Twitter (@pflag) or Instagram.