Over the past three years, the Transilient team traveled over 30,000 miles, interviewed over 150 trans and nonbinary people, and shifted the trans narrative through numerous media outlets. The stories we share reach beyond national borders; our work has reached Canada, the Czech Republic, and even Japan. As our organization grows, we recognized our ability to give back to the trans community in tangible ways. By bringing on five assistants, two volunteers, and a summer intern, we shared invaluable vocational, interpersonal, and storytelling skills with other transgender and gender non-conforming people who wish to do similar work. We created a place that not only provides visibility to the trans community, but allows us to see a positive version of ourselves.
We believe that storytelling is a powerful and radical form of healing and can plant the seeds of restorative justice. Because of this, we partnered with a mental health education organization called Lost Got Found (https://www.lostgotfound.org/) to create a documentary series that chronicles the experiences of trans people who face mental health issues on a daily basis in Appalachia. Seeing and hearing from those directly impacted by these issues provides audiences with a personalized connection to these stories and people. It is for this reason that we aim to complete this project through film above all other mediums. We plan to do our annual skill-sharing tour in the rest of the states in the main land of U.S where we haven't gone yet.
Both of these travels will be pieces of a full length documentary about the people we meet and the work that Transilient does. We plan to release this work and send it to film festivals in an effort to change the narrative that surrounds trans and non-binary people in the media. (See trailer for the full length documentary below)
It is a known fact that transgender and gender non-conforming people face discrimination, especially in rural parts of the United States like Appalachia. Through our proposed documentary series, we hope to share the mental health stories of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in communities throughout Appalachia, breaking down the stigma around mental illness, trans identities, and advocating for more inclusive and affirming services in a part of the United States that is largely overlooked and under-served.
- While nearly 6.7% of the United States population experience a form of depression and 18% experience some form of a diagnosed anxiety disorder, almost half of all trans and gender non-conforming people experience these issues (Psychology Today, 2016). In fact, the American Psychological Association wrote in March 2016 that “for many adults, dealing with discrimination results in a state of heightened vigilance and changes in behavior, which in itself can trigger stress responses – that is, even the anticipation of discrimination is sufficient to cause people to become stressed.”
- LGBTQ individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder. This fear of coming out and being discriminated against for sexual orientation and gender identities, can lead to depression, post traumatic stress disorder, thoughts of suicide and substance abuse. (stats from Nami.org)
- According to the 2010-2014 Poverty Rate report, poverty rates across the US were 15.6% compared to 19.7% in the combined Appalachian regions of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In addition to experiencing poverty at higher rates than the general population, people who are transgender or gender non-conforming have difficulties accessing the income supports and other safety nets that would help them overcome poverty. Nearly 1 in 5 trans folks have reported that they had received negative treatment, including being denied equal treatment or service, verbally harassed, or physically attacked, when they went to a public assistance or government benefits office.
- Over 41% of trans men and women are estimated to have attempted suicide — a rate that's nearly nine times as high as the rate of cisgender Americans.
KNOXVILLE, TN ➔ HUNTSVILLE, AL ➔ ATANTA, GA ➔ ASHEVILLE, NC ➔ ROANOKE, VA ➔ CHARLESTON, WV
Shirts below printed by Transfigure Print co. (Human Rights T-shirt; the one you pledge for will be multi color, but with the same text)
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk we've had is transportation issues in the past. We are raising enough money to rent a vehicle versus driving a team members car.
The team is comprised of low income, working class trans folks, who either live in or are from the southeast. This makes it so we have to work other jobs while gaining funding for the work. Getting the final product done and released may take over 6 months from when production ends in September of 2019.
- (60 days)