Using the locker room, relieving yourself at a restroom, going to the doctor’s office-each one is an everyday task that is often assumed to be easy to complete. For trans people, the opposite is often true. When you’re trans, a simple action like going to the bathroom can become an impossible obstacle. A new film called Headspace by Jake Graf is giving a voice to the inner thoughts of trans people, showing how small tasks can become hurdles. As Headspace proves, the public places that should be welcoming are often a fear-ridden political battleground, resulting in inner-anxiety for trans people.
A striking scene in the beginning of Headspace shows a trans man endlessly looking for a stall to use in the men’s bathroom. When he finds that there are no functioning stalls, anxiety quickly envelopes him. It’s a situation that’s all too common for trans people who risk potentially being outed in the bathroom, or unhealthily holding their bladders to maximum capacity until they can find another restroom.
For trans women, the restroom can also become a site of violence; their bodies are the most heavily policed during political debates about “bathroom bills” in the United States. States like North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia have all proposed bills that target the right of trans people to access the restroom that aligns with their gender identity (States See a New Wave of Transgender Bathroom Bills). Supporters of these bills have attempted to portray trans people as “predators” in hopes of disguising the fact that this legislation is meant to do nothing more than legalize transgender discrimination. As Headspace shows, the trickle-down effect of transphobia is a huge wave of anxiety if you’re a trans person trying to use a public space like a restroom, which should be accessible to all.
During another moment in Headspace, a trans man sits impatiently at the gynecologist’s office, tormented by the questioning, judgmental eyes of the women in the waiting area. It’s a situation that’s all-too-common for trans men who must seek preventative exams at doctor’s offices that are often not welcoming to trans people. Many trans men avoid seeking this type of medical care because of the anxiety that a gynecological waiting area creates. Going to the doctor’s office should be an easily accomplishable task, but again, for trans people it’s often an insurmountable obstacle.
The beauty and power of Headspace lies not just in its portrayal of the everyday struggles that trans people face, but also in its poignant final scene. In the last scene, a trans woman is walking by a construction site expecting to be called transphobic slurs. Happily, she finds that one of the men is glancing at her with the utmost admiration. Her inner voice quickly exclaims: “Things must be changing.” In a world fraught with hate, there is also the balance of progress being made towards acceptance of trans people. Though our bodies are often still the target of discriminatory laws, this ending shows that ordinary people often choose love over hate.