Twenty-one transgender movies spanning nearly forty years. Although there are many brilliant documentaries out there, I’m just sticking to films for this list.
I’ve also omitted transvestite emphasized or drag queen-focused movies since they deserve their own group.
IN A YEAR OF 13 MOONS (1978)
A bleak and relentless film about a man who goes to Casablanca for sexual reassignment, hoping the man he loves will care about him in return.
It’s been labeled a film that is “hard to categorize” as well as unbearably brutal and graphic, but beautiful and nonsensical at times with some impressive monologues.
JUST LIKE A WOMAN (1992)
A comedy-drama where a financial executive yuppie (and closeted transvestite) is kicked out and divorced because his wife assumes he’s having an affair.
He moves into new lodging and slowly reveals his alter ego to his newly divorced landlady. Changes are met with humor and warmth while love and acceptable unfurl.
THE CRYING GAME (1992)
Fergus, an IRA member, forms an unexpected bond with a kidnapped British soldier in his custody (Jody). After a hostage escape goes terribly wrong, Fergus escapes to London to keep his promise and visit Jody’s girlfriend.
Amidst conflict from his pursuing IRA colleagues, Fergus finds himself in the middle of his own emotional battle as romantic feels build for Jody’s girlfriend.
A drama based on the play of the same name where a French diplomat is sent to Beijing during the cultural revolution. While acclimating to life in China he meets and quickly falls in love with a Chinese opera singer. However, as their relationship develops, and secrets reveal themselves, he finds out she is actually a man.
A powerful, brilliantly acted, and haunting movie that should be on anyone’s list.
PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT (1994)
When drag queen Anthony agrees to take his act on the road, he invites fellow cross-dressers and transsexual friends to come along. In their colorful bus, named Priscilla, the three performers travel across the Australian desert performing for enthusiastic crowds and homophobic locals.
But when the other two performers learn the truth about why Anthony took the job, it threatens their act and their friendship.
MY LIFE IN PINK (1997) Belgian
It tells the story of Ludovic, a child who is seen by family and community as a boy, but consistently communicates being a girl. The film depicts Ludovic’s family struggling to accept this gender expression while fighting against the community’s need to “cure” him.
A powerful movie that deals with everything from suicide to community violence, all through the eyes of a child.
BOYS DON’T CRY (1999)
An Oscar-winning movie (based on the actual events) of Brandon Teena – a teen whose family was forced by threat to move because of his transgenderism, only to find the next town was just as unwelcoming.
Fair warning – some scenes can be very difficult to watch and won’t leave you with any warm fuzzies or closure at the end, but Hilary Swank delivers an incredible performance.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2001)
A rock musical with a hard-core cult following about an East German transgender who survived a botched re-assignment operation and travels with his band, “The Angry Inch”.
They perform for welcoming crowds and homophobic small towns while shadowing an ex-lover’s tour after he broke her heart and soul her music. Note: there are several movie/Broadway versions to choose from.
SOLDIER’S GIRL (2003)
After a new army recruit (Barry) is assigned to Tennesee, he and his quick-tempered and drug-addicted friend go to see a drag show. Barry finds himself fascinated with one of the transsexual drag queens.
However, as their relationship grows, Barry’s friend turns bitter and starts spreading rumors … and recruits fellow soldiers to exact deadly revenge. Based on a true story.
After 25 years of marriage and living as a model citizen in his community, a Midwestern husband/father announces his plan to have a sex-change operation.
Despite backlash from colleagues, bosses, friends, the church, and family, he finds support from his daughter, last remaining friend, and his loving, determined wife. A story about dedication and love – where most stories would end in divorce and pain.
WILD SIDE (2004)
Stephanie, a transgender woman who survives by prostituting herself in Paris, returns home to care for her sick mother (who is still in denial about Stephanie’s lifestyle).
She brings her two roommates (a Russian AWOL soldier and an Armenian hustler) with her – but friendship soon turns to romance and she decides to keep them both rather than choosing.
BEAUTIFUL BOXER (2004) Thailand Based
A biographical film about Parinya Charoenphol, a famous Singaporean trans woman, Muay Thai fighter, actress, and model.
The film starts when she was a young boy who loved wearing red lipstick and flowers and follows her journey of self-acceptance and pursuing kickboxing to pay for her surgery.
Bree, a preoperative transgender woman takes an unexpected journey when she learns that she fathered a son, now a teenage runaway hustling on the streets of New York. Bree’s caseworker, however, won’t allow her to proceed with the surgery until she confronts and deals with this new aspect of her life.
Odd in some scenes, rough in others, but touching in many.
BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (2005)
As a baby, Patrick is left by his mother on the steps of the rectory in their small Irish town. He’s discovered and placed in an abusive foster home.
By the time he’s a teen, Patrick identifies himself as transgendered, renames himself Kitten, and sets out for London with a rock group in hopes of finding his mother. Along the way, he works variously as a magician’s assistant, a prostitute, and a dancer.
ALBERT NOBBS (2011)
Albert Nobbs struggles to survive in late 19th-century Ireland, where women aren’t encouraged to be independent. Posing as a man so she can work as a butler in Dublin’s most elegant hotel, Albert meets a handsome painter and looks to escape the lie she has been living. Amazing performance by Glenn Close.
If you plan on watching this, don’t forget your box of tissues.
A drama centered on the relationship between two young men, as one of them navigates the difficulties of life as a transgender man and the other supports him every step of the way.
Many people comment that this is one of the few movies that takes a real look at the issues around gay transgender men. And, although the plot might be simple, the characters are anything but.
TOMBOY (2011) French
A drama about a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new town during the summer holidays. After being mistaken for a boy, the next time she’s asked her name, she says it’s Mickäel and proceeds to present herself as a boy.
Although transgenderism is more implied rather than outright stated, the conflict and emotions are still real and sometimes heartbreaking.
LAURENCE ANYWAYS (2012) French-Canadian
A drama-comedy spanning the ten-year relationship between Laurence, a French teacher, soon-to-be-published author, and transgender woman living as a man, and his fiance/lover.
We follow as their once intense, loving relationship disintegrates into an angry, bitter, on-again-off-again relationship filled with lies and unending connections.
BOY MEETS GIRL (2014)
21-year old Ricky is a transgender woman living in a small town but with big dreams to move to New York and become a designer. She spends most of her time working or hanging out with her only friend, Robby, who has been by her side for the past 15 years.
One day, a woman walks into her coffee shop, a friendship unexpectedly blossoms, which then turns into an affair.
The story follows a transgender sex worker who discovers that her boyfriend/pimp has been cheating on her while she was locked away – and proceeds to track her down on Christmas Eve.
This movie is unique not only because of its micro-budget but also for the fact it was shot entirely on an iPhone (which was kept a secret right up until the premiere).
THE DANISH GIRL (2015)
Set in the early 20s of Copenhagen, artist Einer Wgenre shares a loving relationship with his artist wife. However, after posing in a dress for his wife (as a stand-in model), he soon finds the event has triggered a longing to become a woman.
After psychology and “curing” fails, Einer decides to undergo the first transsexual surgery in history.
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Also, if you want more interesting, must-read articles, you might like these:
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- 10 Video Game Sex Scenes – Steamy, Romantic, and Raunchy
- Subliminal Sex Messages – From Popcorn Fraud to Disney Movies
Have you found any brilliant transgender movies that didn’t make it to this collection? If so, share in the comments!