In a world of fixed positions and prescribed roles, expanding the definition of gender requires the courage to dive deep into understanding and acceptance. Christina Willings’ documentary Beauty explores the lives of five gender-creative kids, each uniquely engaged in shaping their ideas of what it means to be fully human. Whether it’s dealing with bullies, having discussions with their parents, or navigating the new waters of relationships, Bex, Lili, Fox, Tru, and Milo talk about their experiences and their determination to live in authenticity.
The fluid nature of identity is complicated enough, but especially so when the outside world sees only binary surfaces. “It is hard to talk about my life when I was a girl… cuz I’m not a girl, I have a girl body, but a boy brain,” explains Bex (formerly Rebecca). For Tru Wilson, the process of accepting her identity came in stages—from 30 percent girl, to half and half, and finally, as she states: “Okay, I am 100 percent girl… but I identify as a transgender girl.”
Claiming your own sense of gender when everything around you insists that you comply and conform can be challenging, and sometimes scary. Fox remembers having to be escorted into the bathroom at school. For Lili, it’s the embarrassment of being laughed at, or being mistaken for the wrong gender. But luckily, family and friends are there to help. Milo is learning to deal with masculine things like horror movies and hairstyles, but still requires some advice. “Well, mostly from my brother, because my father has no hair.”
Free-flowing animated elements, ranging from images of octopuses to astronauts, draw together the kids’ shared experiences in beautifully rendered fantasias that celebrate the power of imagination and the flourishing force of self-determination. Playful, goofy, loving and brave—each of these remarkable kids has found their own way to break free and show the world what it really means to be your true self. Or, as Bex says: “It’s fine to be who you are.”