Gender Revolution

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Gender Revolution Movie Poster Image
Absorbing, empathetic documentary dives deep into gender.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

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Positive Messages

Gender Revolution encourages viewers to take a critical view of media messages by presenting clips from shows like Transparent and The Brady Bunch as well as news footage and shots of magazine and newspaper articles dealing with gender. Terms like "cisgender," "intersex" are explicitly defined for viewers. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Couric treats the people she interviews and their problems with respect, and dignity; they aren't mocked or belittled. Their issues are examined insightfully and with compassion, and a wide range of people tell their stories straightforwardly. 


A brief reference to a famous case of gender reassignment that wound up in the patient committing suicide; scary statistics about how common suicide is amongst trans young people are repeated. A patient receiving genital surgery is draped but we see various fluids dripping and being siphoned away, as well as sharp instruments and medical devices. Victims of hate crimes talk briefly about, but don't describe, how they were victimized. 


Sex and biology are frankly discussed: how babies are conceived and developed, how genitalia develops in the womb, what the genitals of intersex people look like. Body parts are described but not pictured (we don't see any naked people). 


Couric asks Siri (the iPhone virtual assistant) for definition of words like "transgender" and "intersex." Videos from YouTube and Facebook and Tinder posts show the sites' logos. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gender Revolution is a documentary about gender identity. Katie Couric interviews a wide range of people who identify as transgender (or have loved ones that do), and treats their problems with compassion and empathy. Biology and sex are frankly discussed: how babies are conceived and developed, how genitalia develops in the womb, what the genitals of intersex people look like. Body parts are described but we don't see any naked people. No strong language, but interviewees use anatomical words for body parts frequently. Rape, murder, and suicide are referred to, but not described or dwelt on at length.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNorrie G. February 22, 2018

Positive, affirming resource for helping EVERYONE (kids and adults) learn more about how understanding of gender is evolving.

Watched this with my seven year old (now eight) daughter this past summer. In some ways, I think I learned more than she did.

The film leads you through many... Continue reading

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What's the story?

"It used to be so simple," says Katie Couric at the beginning of the documentary GENDER REVOLUTION. "You were a boy or a girl. Girls wore pink. Boys wore blue." But it's increasingly obvious that for many people, it's not that easy. Couric criss-crosses the United States to interview experts and people located all along the gender spectrum: children born as boys living as girls, people who were born intersex and raised as the "wrong" gender, people who are gender fluid, people who are content with their body parts not matching their outward gender, and a whole host of others with a story to tell. Ultimately what we learn is that gender isn't as black-and-white (or as pink and blue) as many used to assume. 

Is it any good?

Incisive and moving, Couric's documentary about gender issues and identity introduces the uninitiated to new concepts and controversies. What does "cisgender" mean? What is "gender fluid?" How can young children know that their internal gender isn't the same as what people see on the outside? Is it ethical to surgically "correct" the genitals of children born intersex at birth, or should children be allowed to choose themselves? Couric, who frankly admits that she was born in a time when the controversy of the day was gender roles instead of gender identity, visits with dozens of interviewees who have answers to these and other questions. 

This is the point at which sympathetic viewers may find themselves tearing up listening to an intersex man describe the life-long damage that was caused by being raised as a girl, or the isolation and agony a long-married trans woman describes before she broke down and told her wife that she was really Kate, not Bill. Couric has a way of gently asking the very questions that might occur to skeptical viewers: Why are pronouns important? How do the parents of trans teens know they're not just going through a phase? Why does it matter what bathroom someone uses? Given the chance to confront the prejudices they experience every day, the interviewees answer honestly, relieved not just to answer, but that the questions are being asked at all. They are seen. They are heard. As one college-aged trans man sighs in a way that seems to sum up Gender Revolution's POV, "Change is coming. And it's a relief." 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How does Katie Couric show curiosity, empathy, and compassion when interviewing the people in Gender Revolution? How do these qualities guide the questions that she asks and the way she asks them? 

  • What type of person do you think this documentary is aimed at? A person who already knows a lot about gender issues or someone who wants to know more? How can you tell? 

  • How would this documentary change if it were about just one person who is transgender rather than providing an overview of many people's lives? Would it be more or less interesting to watch? Is there a person featured in this documentary who you'd like to know more about? 

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