As Pride month comes to a close, I wanted to highlight a wonderful documentary focusing on the subject of Trans identity that I watched earlier this year. Jack and Yaya was originally scheduled to have it’s UK Premiere as part of March’s BFIFlare Festival. Due to Covid-19, this event went online, but the film is available to stream.
Jack and Yaya met at ages three and two through their shared backyard fence. They spent their childhood together, building forts and burning trash cans in their small hometown in South Jersey. From a young age, Yaya and Jack saw each other as they truly were, a girl and a boy, even though the rest of the world didn’t see them that way. As they grew older, they supported each other as they both came out as transgender.
The film follows them for a year in their early 30s, documenting their friendship through interviews and home videos.
It’s a charming watch and the relationship between the pair stays front and centre at all times. The fact that they have stayed so close for over 30 years and been able to support each other through such unique experiences at times bought me close to tears. Whether it’s Jack talking to his older family members about how they supported him, or Yaya looking after him after a surgery, every moment feels heartfelt and real.
Through the mix of home video footage and intimate interviews with friends and family, we’re allowed in to the complex childhoods the pair shared and to see how their transitions shaped not only who they are, but their families also.
The best thing about Jack & Yaya though, is that it’s not a tale of two trans kids. It’s the story of a beautiful decades long friendship, of two people who continue to go above and beyond to support each other in all stages of their lives. By the end of the film, their trans identities aren’t important. They’re just Jack and Yaya.
You can find more information about where to access the film through their official website ( https://jackandyaya.com/ )