PBS NewsHour Touts Film About Being a Trans Man Embedded with the Taliban

April 11th, 2024 8:09 AM

PBS NewsHour may have some sort of quota to meet for the number of supportive stories they must file for the transgender lobby. On April 4, they touted a new documentary available on Amazon Prime and Apple TV under the headline "Documentary captures journalist’s gender transition while embedded with Taliban."

GEOFF BENNETT: The film Transition follows queer Australian filmmaker Jordan Bryon as he embeds with a Taliban unit he is documenting for The New York Times. But Bryon is undergoing his own transformation as a transgender man and has to keep his identity a secret.

Bennett's co-anchor Amna Nawaz did the softball interview:

NAWAZ: You begin documenting one group of Taliban fighters after the Taliban retake control of the country. And, at the same time, you are in the process of your own gender transition. At what point do you decide, I need to start turning the cameras the other way and start telling my own story as part of this?

JORDAN BRYON: I started the medical transition like five months before the Taliban took over, and, objectively, as a filmmaker, I was thinking it could be interesting to document this process in a place like Afghanistan, and because I wanted to use my story to show the version of Afghanistan that I had experienced, which was a really beautiful, loving, welcoming Afghanistan.

Monica Villamizar, the co-director of Bryon's film, explained how she got involved: 

VILLAMIZAR: I had heard about him before as this Australian D.P., cinematographer who had really, really intimate access to the Taliban. So, in my imagination, I was already wondering, who is this guy and how did he get such intimate access? And that's when we met. And Jordan said, "Come here, but I'm not sure I want to do a film about myself."

And I convinced him, because I really think it takes enormous courage to do something so intimate about your own process, but I really thought his story was extraordinary.

Nawaz raised the notion that Bryon would have to leave (to make the film), and once the film was out, he couldn't go back. "I just wonder how you reflect on that decision now."

BRYON: It was a big decision. I lived in Afghanistan for six-and-a-half years, and it's the most significant relationship I have ever had. It is an incredible place.

And, as a filmmaker, it's a gift. But when Mon convinced me to make the film, I knew then that the film would mean that I would have to cut my ties with Afghanistan, most likely for the foreseeable future at least. And I'm hoping that the film adds value to the world and adds conversations to people that make it worth having to end that relationship for a while.

Villamizar called their film a "love letter to journalism." It certainly sounds like a love letter to transgenderism.

This would match our findings overall, that over a seven-month period last year, the PBS NewsHour guest count on LGBTQ issues was 19 to 1, and the "1" was lesbian tennis icon Billie Jean King volunteering her objections to men competing in women's sports.