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Movie Review: ‘The Most Dangerous Year’

The documentary movie The Most Dangerous Year, details the fight to maintain the civil rights of transgender people in the state of Washington in 2016. However, its more than just a bunch of talking heads talking about an issue, its also the story of families and how they’re helping their children make their transitions happily and successfully. The Most Dangerous Year is also the personal story of the film’s producer, Vlada Knowlton, and her transitioned daughter.

After attempts to repeal marriage equality acts across the US have been meeting with failure, vindictive conservatives have been seeking new targets they can attack. Latching onto the most vulnerable in society, they have begun attacking the rights of transgender people to use the washroom of their choice. The Most Dangerous Year details this fight in Washington, as seen through the eyes of a few families.

While in some ways this is the highly personal story of a few families and their fight to protect the rights of their children, along the way we learn important facts about the truth of transgender people. Two of the people interviewed over the course of this documentary are doctors. They explain gender identification, is based on more than just the chromosomes which dictate the development of genitalia. 

They’ve isolated the segment of the brain which prompts a child’s awareness of gender – said awareness developing at about the age of three – and how this process is completely separate from what the chromosomes are doing. So, when a child as young as three begins to say I’m a girl or I’m a boy, in spite of what outward appearance might suggest, this is not abnormal, a sign of mental illness, or a child making things up – it’s exactly when a person will become aware of their gender .

Unfortunately, too many people remain ignorant about the truth of gender identity and this leads to fears and bigotry. All of which the people advocating the roll back of transgender rights play into with lies and misinformation. Using the spurious arguments of protecting women from sexual predators they try to lend legitimacy to their cause by cloaking themselves in the armour of being concerned for survivors of sexual abuse. 

The fact that there has never been a documented case of a transgender person assaulting anyone while using the bathroom of their choice doesn’t matter. The argument that if an abuse survivor were to catch sight of a transgender’s genitalia in a rest room might cause them undue trauma make you wonder if it’s normal for women to go around exposing themselves in public washrooms?

In spite of the ridiculousness of all these arguments, they not only came within a hair’s-breadth of having the Washington state senate repeal the civil rights of trans-gender people, it was only because three brave republicans broke with their party the new legislation failed, they have only narrowly failed in having anti-transgender ballot initiatives included in both 2016 and 2017 local elections.

The Most Dangerous Year does a magnificent job of laying out all these details in an easy to understand and straightforward manner. The movie calmly and reasonably refutes all the arguments put forward by those against transgender people using the bathroom of their choice. We also learn of the high suicide rate among transgender children who aren’t accepted and forced to remain locked in an alien gender identity as opposed to those who are allowed to be who they need to be.

For some people The Most Dangerous Year might be their first opportunity to meet transgender people of all ages. What you’ll see, especially among the accepted children, are happy and normal families going about their business. The movie will make you cry and make you angry, but if you care about civil rights you need to see The Most Dangerous Year.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.

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