After a burst of TV shows focusing on trans women and their families, British director Gaby Dellal’s film About Ray, due out in mid-September, will provide a welcome look at a young transgender man (albeit one played by a cis woman). According to IndieWire, the movie was originally called Three Generations, and looking at the trailer and its spectacular casting, it’s easy to see why. Elle Fanning stars as Ray, a teenager fighting for permission for a medical transition. Naomi Watts plays Ray’s single mother, Maggie, and Susan Sarandon is his lesbian grandmother, Dolly.
The trailer begins with a contemporary trans rite of passage, particularly for transgender guys: the filming of a video log documenting his body’s transformation. Many of the classic elements of trans narratives are present—gender-based harassment, misgendering, and family members, in this case Ray’s absent father played by Tate Donovan, refusing to use his preferred pronouns and name.
One aspect of the movie that feels wonderfully fresh is Dolly’s response to her grandchild’s transition. An old-school dyke, Dolly asks Ray’s mom, “Why can’t she just be a lesbian?” Watts seems great as an exasperated parent fighting to raise consciousness and to protect her child. “Because she’s not a lesbian, mom. She’s a boy,” is her great response. I can’t wait to watch Sarandon’s journey, which, judging from the tone of the trailer, I’m betting will ultimately be right-on and supportive.