She’s a Boy I Knew

Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, "She's a Boy I Knew" proves there's still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries.

With:
With: Gwen Haworth, Malgosia Rawicz Mann, Colleen Haworth, Thomas Haworth, Kim Haworth, Nicole Haworth, Roari Richardson.

Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth avoids the kind of narcissistic, sensationalized public confessional of TV chatshows, going deeper into the emotional morass sparked by definitions of gender and its roles. With several awards already under its belt, the docu is set to be a fest fave.

Mastering an impressive degree of self-analysis, Haworth narrates her life, editing older homemovies with interviews of family and friends. Born Steven, the eldest child of Colleen and Thomas, he knew early on that he wasn’t comfortable in his skin, though as Haworth explains, she thought of herself as a girl, not a transsexual, expressing a refreshing distaste for the phrase “a woman trapped in a man’s body.”

This pull, however, had nothing to do with his sexual attractions, which were directed firmly to women. In college, he fell in love with Malgosia Rawicz, and they married in 1997. When Steven first told her of his desire to live as a woman, she was understandably shaken. His parents, too, were shocked: “This was so out of left field,” says his mom. Fully appreciating that the emotional and physical journey he was embarking on was not a solo voyage, Haworth provides a sympathetic platform to those around her, and interviews are painfully honest.

While Haworth’s family take up a suitably large amount of footage, her docu is, in many ways, a love letter to Malgosia. Though the marriage couldn’t survive the transformation, it becomes clear Haworth is still very much in love with her ex-wife, and Malgosia herself displays an unexpectedly high level of supportive warmth and generosity.

Unlike most autobiographical docu helmers, Haworth has a degree in filmmaking, and her thorough understanding of the medium results in a well-edited portrait smoothly interweaving talking heads with homemovies while steadily moving forward both chronologically and emotionally. Humor is another unexpected plus, picked up on by brief animated segments (“How to Be a Girl,” etc.) that provide just the right amount of leavening.

She's a Boy I Knew

Canada

Production: A Shapeshifter Films production. (International sales: Outcast Films, New York.) Produced, directed, written, edited by Gwen Haworth.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Haworth; music, Daniel E. Moxon; animation, Michael A. Mann, Diego Maclean; sound, Haworth. Reviewed on DVD, Turin, April 25, 2008. (In Turin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival -- competing; also in Vancouver, Palm Springs, Thessaloniki Documentary, San Francisco Gay & Lesbian film festivals, NewFest, Outfest, Intl. Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.) Running time: 70 MIN.

With: With: Gwen Haworth, Malgosia Rawicz Mann, Colleen Haworth, Thomas Haworth, Kim Haworth, Nicole Haworth, Roari Richardson.

More Film

  • Rose Byrne

    Film News Roundup: Rose Byrne in Talks to Join Tiffany Haddish's 'Limited Partners'

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

  • Cher and Meryl Streep'Mamma Mia! Here

    How the Cast of 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' Geeked Out Around Cher

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

  • 'BuyBust' Review

    Film Review: ‘BuyBust’

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

  • John Malone

    John Malone, Scott Paterson Retiring From Lionsgate Board

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Parent's Stock Plunges Again to Record Low

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

  • Timothee Chalamet

    Timothee Chalamet in Talks to Star in Denis Villeneuve's 'Dune'

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

  • Taraji P Henson Sam Rockwell

    Taraji P. Henson-Sam Rockwell Drama 'Best of Enemies' Bought by STX

    Honest, intelligent and absolutely clear-eyed, “She’s a Boy I Knew” proves there’s still more to be squeezed out of transsexual documentaries. Helmer Gwen Haworth turns the camera on herself and loved ones to chart not just her path to gender reassignment surgery, but the toll the decision took on those around her. Though unflinching, Haworth […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content