Review: She’s a Boy I Knew

A friend of a friend in Lincoln, Nebraska got to see the documentary She’s a Boy I Knew which I’d heard good things about, so I asked her to write a review.

by Dr. Pat. Tetreault

She’s A Boy I Knew is a remarkably well-made film. It is honest, funny, poignant and real. Canadian Gwen Haworth narrates and directs the documentary about her life, her coming out process regarding her gender and sexuality, and how her transition to become the woman she is meant to be impacts her life as well as the lives of those she loves and who love her. Through the use of home videos and interviews with family members and friends, including her ex-wife, Gwen reveals the depth and range of emotion and the process involved in coming out and in transitioning. Brief animated segments are also included to lighten the film while providing background information.

The documentary starts out with Gwen when she was a boy named Steve and the remembering of nightmares experienced as a young child reflecting fears of being left behind. Gwen shares the secret that she kept from everyone for most of her life — that she was female – and the impact that it has on herself and her loved ones. The belief that it is important to keep something so personal a secret results in a degree of isolation and a lack of communication, limiting the intimacy and support available. The decision to finally share this secret with Margosa, the love of her life after they have been married (as Steve), begins the movement that changes everything. The impact upon Gwen, Margosa, Gwen’s parents, her sisters and friends is explored through interviews after Gwen transitions. The love and support, the challenges, the emotions, the reality of struggling to become the person you see yourself as being, and the struggles and challenges for those in Gwen’s life is shared with the audience.

One of the most poignant moments is when Margosa expresses her desire for Gwen to be who she is. Although Margosa and Gwen’s marriage does not last, they remain connected and supportive of each other despite a break in the relationship that lasts for a while. Their deep regard for each other is clear in the way they handle the transition and changes in their lives and relationship. In many ways, this film is about coming out, transitions and change. And while change does change everything, the love that exists remains and new love and understanding develops.

Dr. Pat Tetreault, Ph.D., is the Assistant Director of Student Involvement at UNL’s LGBTQA Programs & Services.

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