Entertainment » Movies

Man Made

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 7, 2019
'Man Made'
'Man Made'  

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Trans filmmaker T Cooper's new documentary "Man Made" follows four men as they prepare to compete in Trans Con, the only bodybuilding competition in the U.S. specifically for the trans community. The contest rules simply state that everyone must identify as trans, and as such, they allow contestants to enter, regardless at what point they are of their physically transitioning.

Of the four, Mason is probably the one who takes the bodybuilding the most seriously following a strict diet regimen that would test the patience of a saint, let alone his very supportive wife. The two had dated sometime time ago and then broke up as Mason started his transitioning, but reunited some years later when they decided that they couldn't live apart - even though Mason has still never been naked in front of his wife.

When they started filming, Atlanta native Rese was having a very hard time. He was homeless, having been kicked out by his mother, who was still looking after his 5-year-old son. As the documentary progresses he meets and marries a new partner., who is also trans, and they move to Baltimore to start a new life together.

Whereas Mason had been the one who brought up the overwhelming thoughts of suicide that he, like other people wanting to transition, had felt, it was Rese who raised the topic of how many trans women get murdered when they reveal their identities to cis men.

Dominic, a rapper from St Paul, has a fianceƩ, Thea; at the start of filming, and with her support, he is about to undergo a double mastectomy. Part of his journey to identify to his true self is to also track down his biological mother, who had given him up for adoption and who can reveal his true ethnicity at last. Of all the men, Dominic is the one who is most relaxed at gaining a real body-builder physique, poking fun at the stomach he cannot quite shed.

Then there is Kennie, who is just about to start his transitioning journey. DJ, his lesbian girlfriend, is fully supportive of his choices but feels that this will probably signal the end of their relationship. As the testosterone shots start taking effect, It increases Kennie's sex drive; DJ is less attractive to him as his body physically changes.

The actual competition in Atlanta is a good-natured event, and Cooper also gives brief bios of the other eight or so men taking part. He also light-heartedly discusses issues they all face, like the decision to wear a packer (a fake penis) to pad out the front of their very tiny speedos.

The men that participate express the sheer relief that finally their bodies are matching their true gender. The fact that they going one step further to be ultra-masculine as bodybuilders is not just for their own satisfaction, but so that society see them for who they really are.

Cooper's intriguing doc, which picked up an award at the Atlanta Film Festival, is in many ways more about how transitioning can affect a man's personal relationships and whether they cannot only survive the journey but also adjust sufficiently to match both their needs and those of the life partners.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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