“America in Transition” (AIT) is the award-winning, Sundance-backed documentary series that explores the community, family, and social issues of trans people of color across the United States – capturing real life for a veteran turned activist, an immigrant seeking home, a woman living with HIV healing from trauma, and a model navigating family life.
Transgender Filmmaker, educator and community Organizer, André Pérez, founded the Trans Oral History Project in 2008 motivated by the isolation he felt growing up in a military family in Virginia. Perez journeyed across the country to document the subjects of the series. Each of the four episodes explores one person’s story in depth, tackling intersectional issues such as HIV criminalization, living as trans in the South, family acceptance, trans exclusion from the military, and immigrant detention.
“America in Transition is a compelling and powerful portrait of trans people surviving in a world built for their exclusion. André Pérez tells these stories with the empathy and understanding that only another trans person can.” — Zachary Drucker, Producer of Transparent
America In Transition (AIT) was initially inspired by my own experience coming of age in North Carolina and starting my transition as a youth in rural Vermont. I had questions about everything from health care access to navigating relationships, but I had no one to ask. Without role models or institutional support, I felt like I had to come to the city to find myself. I went on to found the Trans Oral History Project. Over the past seven years, I’ve interviewed trans folks across the country who express parallel stories of being told trans didn’t fit with other aspects of our personhood. How can you be trans and Muslim or black or Mexican or Southern? We found ways to reconcile the seemingly disparate parts of who we are.
2015 was heralded as the “transgender tipping point,” but 2016 has brought some of the most regressive civil rights legislation in modern US history. Trans people have become the targets of radical social conservatives who are leveraging fear and ignorance to create a social climate of increasing and unrelenting hostility. We are caught in a culture war, as Southern lawmakers fight the federal government in order to protect the supposed “right” for businesses (MS and NC), schools (TX), and even health professionals (TN and TX) to discriminate against transgender people. AIT uses character-driven storytelling in order to highlight issues of importance to trans people in marginalized communities.
At its heart, AIT is about how environments shape who we are. It will complicate notions of social change in underrepresented communities. This is a crucial moment to help people understand how trans realities differ based on identity, geography, and social context. The world is changing for the white, upper-middle class people we see on mainstream television, but trans people of color, immigrants, and working class families face a different world. AIT focuses on relationships as it explores where, when, and how change happens in a complex individual, a diverse community, and a divided nation.
About The Director – André Pérez
André Pérez is a Puerto Rican transgender filmmaker, educator, and community organizer. He founded the Transgender Oral History Project in 2008, and created traveling multimedia historical exhibit about transgender activism in 2009. Since then, he has presented workshops about storytelling and the transgender community numerous universities and conferences including Creating Change, Allied Media Conference, and MIT. After experiencing housing instability as a youth, Andre went on to help launch El Rescate and co-found Project Fierce Chicago, both grassroots transitional housing programs for LGBTQ youth.
In 2012, André served as Director and Senior Producer for I Live for Trans Education, a grassroots multimedia curriculum. He worked with a team of 20 transgender community members at varying skill levels to create four documentary shorts and accompanying interactive activities. I Live has reached over 15,000 people through online views, installations, live community events, and train-the-trainer sessions at conferences.
Between 2012-2015, André recorded over 500 interviews as part of StoryCorps, broadcasting 50 segments on NPR and WBEZ. He sat on the Board of Out at the Chicago History Museum and the Community Advisory Board of the Civil Rights Agenda. His work has been honored by the Trans 100, the Museum of Transgender History and Art, the Association of Independent Radio, and the International Independent Film Awards.
André continues to pursue his passion for sharing stories from communities whose voices have been shut out of traditional media. Summer of 2016, Pérez premiered Been T/Here on the inaugural cycle of OTV. After helping its founders launch Trans Lifeline into the national spotlight, André set out to make America in Transition, a sundance-backed documentary series explores community, family, and social issues with trans people of color across the United States. André is a sought-after public speaker and Social Impact Consultant who recently relocated to the Bay Area so that he can spend more of his off-time hiking and snuggling.
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