Becoming Blair: A Transgender Documentary
I met Blair 22 years ago in the maternity ward of some hospital in San Antonio. He’s recounted to me multiple times his memory of our grandmother pointing me out to him as I laid among all of the sleeping newborns.
Blair is my cousin, and we have always been close. He and I grew up together and spent most of our summer days playing hide and seek, frequenting Schlitterbahn, and running around the neighborhood. He was my role model and friend, and looking back on that time I imagine that this was possible because he, like me, was a girl.
However, when Blair came out to the family a couple of years ago, it wasn’t as shocking to me as it was to others. I did feel a hint of sadness when I found out that he was beginning his transition, wondering what that would mean for our relationship and how it would affect the way we interacted, but those feelings were quickly wiped away when I hung out with him for the first time after he had begun presenting himself as male. Blair was confident, as friendly as ever, and most importantly, happy.
At the same time, a few members of my family were having a harder time processing his transition, and I found the conflict interesting. So I decided to film it. Blair has been passionate about advocating and spreading awareness about the transgender community, so after a five minute phone call on a weeknight, he was on board with the film. I had the idea of giving Blair a platform to be heard, but I didn’t want to overlook the very real sorrow and confusion expressed by other members of my family. It’s really easy to oversimplify issues, especially when it comes to tolerance; I do it all the time. This project has challenged me to see other points of view and embrace the gray in what initially seemed to me as a black and white issue.
Blair’s mom and dad, his sister, brother, and our aunts and uncles, all have had their own emotional responses to Blair’s transition, and sometimes those responses were hurtful and seen as intolerant. Through making this film and watching its effects on individual members of my family, however, I have come to realize my hubris of thinking that, because I was more vocally supportive and accepting of Blair at the forefront of his transition, I somehow cared more about him than others who were struggling more with what that meant. And as time goes on, I have become so humbled by my family’s response to Blair’s transition. Since completing his the film, Karl, his father, is now using Blair's chosen pronouns. His mom, Sue, made it financially possible for Blair to pursue top surgery and continue his transition. Of the 32 grandkids on that side of the family, Blair is exceptional and has always been deeply loved. I can proudly state that he continues to be.