Jack & Yaya captures a year in the life of childhood best friends who go from swapping gendered Christmas gifts as kids to transitioning in their twenties.
Director Jennifer Bagley created a timely documentary about two childhood friends who grew from swapping gendered Christmas gifts as kids to transitioning in their twenties to both become transgender persons. They both are a constant source of love and support for each. They develop along their transformation to present themselves as the gender they have known always felt as young children.
The beauty and inspiration of this documentary are that both Jack and Yaya, have a supporting and loving family. This documentary needs to seen by showing us the emotional and mental devastation most transgender people experience due to being disowned and disconnected from family after they manifest their transgender needs.
This is not to say that neither Jack nor Yaya hasn’t faced any challenges in their journey, but the documentary gives the viewer an insight into how beneficial a support system can be for trans-gendered people. Both are in their late 20s and are going through some experiences to solidify their transitions.
In Yaya’s case, we see her experiencing anxiety as she goes through the process with the State of New Jersey to change her name and gender on official records, especially on her driver’s license. According to Yaya, when people ask who is ‘Christopher’ on her documents, she has told them that he was her boyfriend, this was to protect herself from humiliation and personal attacks. And in Jack’s situation, Bagley covers his hysterectomy operation, a major surgical procedure in his transition to stop his periods.
With the use of family home videos showing how happy Jack and Yaya were growing up, and seeing them as their assigned at birth gender expressions as children, these videos gave context to how their family life nurtured them to find themselves. Interviews with their parents and relatives provided valuable information and proof about how conflicts, confusion, and initial denial and anger, can gradually change as the family comes to understand that they are not losing the person. Jack and Yaya are changing their outward appearance to match how they feel inside.
Jack & Yaya is a documentary that shares how trans-gendered people can flourish to be, confident, and emotionally stable. They can be happy members of society when they have the resources and support to be who they are. Additionally, what makes Jack & Yaya unique is their friendship and how it seems to have been destiny that they became next-door neighbors in the early 90s and a beautiful connection that will take them on a lifelong journey of change together. JACK AND YAYA is available On Demand from Freedom Cinema LLC
Reviewed by Simone Cromer/ Twitter: @theatreofzen