loureviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I'm gender queer. Just in-between. I like happy medium."
This documentary covers an area I admit I had never thought of before, that of suits developed for transgender bodies or gender-binary bodies.
Rae Tutera identifies as somewhere on the spectrum from 'transgender to butch dyke' and she started realising that there was no outlet for custom-made suits which could make her feel comfortable when she started engaging with first, traditional men's outlets, and then tailors which offer a custom-based service.
On meeting Daniel Friedman, a partnership developed called Bindle and Keep which essentially makes men's suits for non-traditional bodies, including Derek, who wants to look good on his wedding day 'without someone noticing extra curves'; Elliott, a law student for whom the expectation for girls to wear 'pantyhose and high heels' to interviews makes him cry'; Mel, who is 'somewhere on the trans spectrum' and wants to feel comfortable as they turn forty; and Jillian, a high-profile lawyer.
The eye-opening one for me is the transgender boy approaching his Bar Mitzvah, whose grandma makes the approach to the company. That his family accept him so readily given the importance of the woman/mother in the Jewish faith is so touching, especially set against media reports of parents ostracising their children for being gay or trans. Equally Derek's mother showing pride in telling her friends she now 'has two sons' makes me pause.
There have always been boyish women and girlish men, who may be categorised as transvestite, tomboy, femme, butch, sissy, or a whole host of labels in traditional-speak. Some of these may be non-gender binary, some may simply not wish to tie themselves to being 'male' or 'female'.
It's an area I am trying to know more about, and to empathise with, and films like this go a long way to educating those of us who balance somewhere on the cis spectrum (and I believe that is complex, too) to understand our fellow beings and to understand that even changing the buttons around for a suit is so empowering.
I'd highly recommend this, and even though it clearly presents people in a certain income bracket who can afford customised clothes, and feels a little bit like an extended ad for the company, it has a definite positive contribution to make to the trans world.
Produced by Lena Dunham (whose sibling Grace appears as a client of Bindle and Keep) and others, this is an absorbing and interesting film.