Growing Up Coy

A film by Eric Juhola
82 minutes, color, USA, 2015
DVD includes: Closed Captions, Chapter Markers, Deleted Scenes

File under: All Films, Civil Rights, Health, Home Video, Homepage, International Law, Juvenile Justice, LGBT Studies, New Release, Women Studies


In a highly conservative Colorado town, a pink-loving, pig-tailed six-year-old girl named Coy becomes the unlikely poster child for transgender rights, in a 2013 landmark case that is reverberating in state courts across the country.  Although she was born as a boy in a set of triplets, Coy’s gender identity was evident even as a toddler, leading her parents, Kathryn and Jeremy, to accept her early on as the girl she wished to be. At first their school is very supportive, but midway through Coy’s first-grade year, they ban her from using the girls’ bathroom. Infuriated and fearing for their child’s safety, Kathryn and Jeremy decide to fight the school’s decision (which defies Colorado’s anti-discrimination law), despite the further attention they know it will draw to Coy’s gender status. They engage the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, led by civil rights attorney Michael D. Silverman, who take their case, and the international media firestorm it generates is fast and often extremely furious. For a family with five children under the age of nine—including the triplets, a very young child, and a daughter with severe cerebral palsy—the strain is enormous. Throughout Eric Juhola’s intimate documentary, we feel the fraught tension between Kathryn and Jeremy’s need to protect their privacy and their child’s innocence and the need to fight for Coy’s rights—as well as the rights of the “thousands of Coys out there.” Joanne Parsont, Framline


“As legal protections for the transgender community gain more mainstream visibility, personal stories, such as the one captured in the documentary “Growing Up Coy,” grow even more vital.

In 2013, when transgender girl Coy Mathis, then 6, was banned from using the girls’ restroom at her Colorado public school, her parents–with the help of lawyer Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)–filed a civil rights complaint. In June 2013, the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled in the Mathis family’s favor.

Since Coy is so young, director Eric Juhola and producer/editor Jeremy Stulberg tactfully protect her from the camera, instead framing the film around acute observations on parental support, the power of the media and legal processes. But the documentary never loses sight of addressing the conversation from a candidly personal standpoint.” Read the full review…

~ Nick McCarthy, NBC News

“The film could not be timelier, with transgender issues at the fore…” Read the full review…

~ Cara Buckley, New York Times

“…beyond becoming an important historical document, the film provides unique insight into what anyone who dares to stand up for their rights must endure when their fight becomes public”

~ Stephen Saito, The Moveable Feast

“A sympathetic, of-the-moment doc…”

~ The Hollywood Reporter

“…urgent viewing…more than a simple advocacy film…”

~ Nigel Smith, The Guardian

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