What does it mean to be a transgender individual living in America who needs access to affordable healthcare?
Filmmaker Christian Hendricks tackles this question in his latest project "Seeking Assistance: Trans Healthcare in America." Currently engaged in a Kickstarter campaign, this film aims to contribute to a longer conversation surrounding transgender identity and healthcare with a focus on Mississippi.
The Huffington Post chatted with Hendricks this week in order to develop a more nuanced understanding about this project.
The Huffington Post: Why did you decide to embark on this project? What are you trying to accomplish? Christian Hendricks: I've worked on a lot of projects focusing on different aspects of queer culture, but recently I've felt especially strong about the concerns of trans people. I think at this point, as a white cisgender gay male, if you're not getting concerned, you have to be willfully ignoring the issue of trans rights. Basically, being the white cis gay male that I am, part of me is really tired of seeing more protected members of our community failing to acknowledge or help just because things have gotten a lot better for them in the past few years.
Why focus specifically on Mississippi? I had a really great time in Mississippi and met some of my favorite people during the trip there. However, Mississippi has some of the more unfortunate policies (or lack of policies) for protecting and helping trans people. The issues presented in this documentary will be issues that affect every trans person in the country, but I felt that Mississippi would serve as a strong microcosm for the issue.
How is this building on your previous project? This project is following in the steps of the previous project, but it's not necessarily a "Part 2." I didn't want to make another documentary about the general experience of being queer in a place. I wanted to address something specific, and attempt to make a difference with this one. The last project got a lot of exposure and afforded me a small platform to say something else. I decided that this what I wanted to say because not enough people are talking about it.
What do you hope people take away from this project in terms of their understanding of how trans identity intersects with access to healthcare? I hope that this helps motivate a larger conversation about what it means to be trans. -- both in general but also within the LGBT community. Transitioning is a combined mental and physical experience that's certainly more harrowing than what I experienced coming out as a gay man, and it deserves consideration and recognition -- on a personal level and absolutely in a medical and political sense.
Head here to check out the "Seeking Assistance" Kickstarter.