Actor, director and activist Jake Graf says he hopes to shine a light on the struggles young transgender people experience with his new harrowing short film.
Released Tuesday, “Listen” dramatizes a number of scenarios that, unfortunately, remain too common for young trans people. The 4 1/2-minute clip, which can be viewed above, shows them being ignored and bullied by classmates, or mocked as they attempt to use a locker room that aligns with their gender identity. One teen avoids eating and drinking in hopes of avoiding the possible embarrassment of visiting a public restroom.
Graf told HuffPost he hopes to inspire viewers to “listen to our trans and queer youth” with the film, released in honor of Transgender Awareness Week.
“If they tell you who they are, that they are being bullied, that they want to dress differently or use a particular bathroom, they just need us to hear them and help,” he said. “They know exactly who they are, and that certainly should be admired rather than doubted.”
For Graf, 2018 was a banner year both personally and professionally. In March, the London native married Hannah Winterbourne, the highest-ranking openly trans officer in the British Army. He also appeared opposite Keira Knightley in the biopic “Colette,” which debuted to great acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
“Listen” is the latest in a series of short films written and directed by Graf that explore LGBTQ issues. Last year, he teamed up with the global advocacy group Shape History for “Trans Youth,” featuring 10 British activists reflecting on the stigma they regularly experience because of their gender identity.
“Transgender people have been around since the dawn of time, and we sure aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “Our community is rising up and fighting harder than ever, and more and more of us are making our voices heard. ... Now, more than ever, there is no place for apathy and inaction.”