May/June 2017  (Volume 32, Issue 3)

Growing Up Coy ***1/2

Coy Mathis, a 6-year-old transgender girl living in a conservative Colorado town, just wants to live a normal life. Her parents, Jeremy and Kathryn, are doing everything they can to help her. Filmmaker Eric Juhola’s Growing Up Coy documents their efforts to ensure that Coy’s school treats her like any other girl. Since Coy, born a boy, identified as a girl from an early age, they encouraged her to move in that direction, especially after their attempts to do otherwise were met with extreme discomfort. They also take her to a child psychologist and a support group, where they find more encouragement than judgment. At first, Coy’s school is supportive, but later decides that Coy can’t use the girl’s bathroom. Jeremy and Kathryn, who have four other children, then begin to home school the whole group. And they reach out to the Transgender Legal & Defense Education Fund in New York, which files a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, since discrimination against transgender people is illegal in the state. Fund founder Michael Silverman helps them prepare for the fight, beginning with a press conference, which leads to appearances on news programs across the world. Some pundits praise the family, others do not (CNN goes so far as to remove the more hateful comments from their website). But after awhile, the negative attention begins to grind the family down. Says Jeremy, “You shouldn’t have to move somewhere to have basic rights,” but circumstances will force their hand. The marriage suffers, but the case establishes a precedent that will benefit other transgender children in Colorado and beyond. A sobering documentary about the challenges and rewards involved in the transgender struggle for equal rights, this is highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)