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Parents' Guide to

The Most Dangerous Year

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Affecting documentary speaks up for trans kids.

Movie NR 2019 90 minutes
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Thoughtful and enormously affecting, this documentary digs into a political fracas -- but in doing so presents a compelling picture of the magic of unconditional love and acceptance. As The Most Dangerous Year's main voice, Washington parent Vlada Knowlton tells us that when she finally accepted that the child she thought was her son was actually her daughter, it was a "terrifying time." Was her child doomed to live a miserable existence, shunned by society? She found her fears crystallized by the 2016 cultural backlash against LGBTQ rights in the form of "bathroom laws." On one hand, so many people seemed so threatened by people like her child. On the other hand, she soon learned that 41% of trans people who aren't supported by those around them attempt suicide.

After all, as we see, trans people are frequently shown ugly images of themselves in the media (e.g., Norman Bates in mom-drag and Buffalo Bill in his "costume") and are treated with something between contempt and fear by many people. Which makes little logical sense, as we learn, since gender isn't a "choice" or a "preference," it's literally coded into our physiology. Yet the 2016 anti-trans activists were able to get a long way by playing on hate and fear, conjuring the specter of sexual deviants who were just aching to violate the sanctity of bathrooms and locker rooms. Scenes in which bigoted rants from anti-trans protesters dissolve into sweet moments of trans children going happily about the business of being a regular kid are perhaps the movie's most powerful. Because despite all the hate that's been leveled at people like them, at home these kids are loved, just as they are, by their families. And it turns out that that's the most important thing of all.

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