As much as we don’t want to be, we’re still shocked when expectations and reality clash. Writer/director Em Weinstein’s short film In France Michelle is a Man’s Name presents the struggle parents wrestle with when it comes to first loving and accepting their trans children.
Michael (Ari Damasco) is a young trans man returning to his parent’s home after a significant period of estrangement. Michael grew up in the conservative region of the American west, and the reunion with his mother (Olga Sanchez) and father (Jerry Carlton) is a cold yet cordial one.
“…the reunion with his mother and father is a cold yet cordial one.”
As the traditionally rugged father, what do you do with your adult son? Take him to a strip club, of course. That’s what they do, and the results are expectedly unexpected.
Parents of trans children have one of two choices to make: accept or reject their child. Rejection is easy, but acceptance is hard. It’s often not enough to resolve your child’s identity in your heart, but then there are also friends, family, and the community to deal with; in this case, a strip club owner.
For a message film, In France Michelle is a Man’s Name astutely walks that line between authenticity and melodrama in its presentation. Weinstein made the plot look and feel real, particularly in an awkward moment in the end. Speaking of the end, there’s a button or punchline to the story that perfectly relieves the tension the story builds. It’s fantastic storytelling from start to finish.
"…rejection is easy, but acceptance is hard."