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QFFU x Colored Qollective: Born to Be

September 2, 2023 @ 14:30 17:00

Producer Michelle Koo Hayashi got a call from Dr. Ting in early 2016 – one of his patients had committed suicide. In processing this information together, they learned that over 45% of trans people attempt suicide. Michelle wanted to help, and that’s how this documentary was born.

She joined forces with Tania Cypriano, a passionate director who had already made documentaries on the queer community, and Jeff Johnson, a gifted cinematographer. With an inexpensive camera they started visiting the clinic and collected 200 hours of footage. Born to Be is the result of that partnership and tells the story of five patients who undergo gender affirmation surgery and the doctor who performs them. With this, the creators hope to bring a measure of understanding and empathy to viewers. It is important to note that, while the stories in the film are about people who choose to surgically transition, there are many trans people who do not seek surgery. The transgender community is a diverse community, which the director tried to show by following people of different ages, ethnicities, gender, and financial backgrounds.

Rosa Oomen, QFFU

This program is organised together with Colored Qollective.

Join Colored Qollective for an engaging interactive workshop centered around the thought-provoking film ‘Born to Be’. Read more under the tab sideprogram.

Colored Qollective is a grassroots organisation for and by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) people of color, specifically active in Utrecht and surroundings. Through our project POCQUnity, we organise psychosocial counseling and guidance, as well as providing safe(r) spaces for LGBTQIA+ people of color in Utrecht, including refugees. Additionally, we conduct several forms of advocacy for this group and organise yearly symposia.



Born to Be follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting, a plastic surgeon at the groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City—where, for the first time ever, all transgender and non-binary people have access to quality transition-related health and surgical care. 

With extraordinary access, this feature-length documentary takes an intimate look at how one doctor’s work impacts the lives of his patients as well as how his journey from renowned plastic surgeon to pioneering gender-affirming surgeon has led to his own transformation. 

Born to Be offers the stage to those who refuse to conform to gender norms and stereotypes. The film addresses the nuances and complexities of gender, exploring key issues around the human right to define gender for oneself.

Through the transitions of Dr. Ting’s patients, we witness the joys and torments that come with this brand-new territory—even as we see the limitations of Dr. Ting’s renowned surgical skills, and his commitment to this new field being tested.

Film Facts

Original language title: Born to Be

Directed by: Tania Cyprano

Year: 2019

Country: USA

Running time: 93 mins

Genre: Documentary

Language: English

Subtitles: English subtitles

Content warning: Trans medical healthcare, suicide attempt, blood/open wounds, distress, medical procedure involving penetration/genitalia, trauma, deadnaming, misgendering.

Side program / workshop

Join Colored Qollective for an engaging interactive workshop centered around the thought-provoking film ‘Born to Be’. During this session, we will delve into the movie’s content, encouraging you to bring along a notebook and pen to capture your insights as we will engage in a meaningful post-film discussion. Drawing upon our diverse expertise and values from an intersectional perspective, we aim to provide valuable context and input.

In addition to exploring the film’s themes, we will also examine parallels to the Netherlands, while collectively envisioning a future where healthcare for trans individuals is reimagined. Your unique perspective is highly valued, and we warmly invite you to join us and contribute your ideas on this important topic.

Villa Concordia

Concordiastraat 67A
Utrecht, Utrecht 3551 EM Nederland
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