‘Draw With Me’ is a 20-minute short film that revolves around Brendon Scholl, Jennifer Lopez’ nibling (gender neutral term for a niece or nephew). The film is a collaboration with the charity The Trevor Project and director/writer Constantine Venetopoulos. With an introduction from Jennifer Lopez, it is a coming out story that follows Brendon’s journey and how they use artwork as a form of self-expression.
Whilst I am not Trans myself, I have friends who are, so this was eye opening and informative for me. While I couldn’t relate to Brendon’s story on a personal level, I still felt sympathetic towards them due to my friends’ own experiences. The number one priority should be to feel comfortable in your own body, and to be comfortable with who you are.
The film is comprised of interviews with Brendon Scholl, their parents and aunt, giving audiences different perspectives on the life-changing situation. From this, I was really pleased to see that these people were accepting of Brendon’s situation, even if it was described as emotional and unexpected. Unfortunately, as Brendon says, some of their relatives were not so accepting. This is an issue that millions of Trans people have and it’s saddening to hear that some people are still not accepting of this. As Brendon says, ‘coming out is the most difficult part’. It’s a risk to do this, as some Trans people have been kicked out of their homes because of who they are. I’m glad this part was highlighted in the documentary because it’s an attitude that needs to change. While it’s an ugly aspect to coming out, it still needs to be highlighted then addressed. Brendon’s mother even says that the T in LGBT should be separate because it’s a completely different aspect, quoting ‘sexual preference is who you go to bed with; sexual identity is who you go to bed as’.
Brendon even expresses frustration at their school for not allowing them to change their name on the school register, stating that they’d need to get the parent/guardian permission to do so. While this makes sense for the school system, it is understandable frustrating for the individual who may not be ready to come out to their parents, and Brendon especially was forced to because of this. This is just one of the many problems that Trans people can face and can often be overlooked by the non-Trans community. Whether this is out of spite or not, it is still an issue and something that needs to change. Thankfully, Brendon’s parents and school friends are supportive of them, but that’s not always the case like previously mentioned.
Brendon also states that they found a way to express themselves via their artwork. This is featured heavily throughout the film as a form of transition and cutaways, as well as to visually explain a feeling that Brendon is going through. This is used to great effect, especially when Brendon is explaining their experience at school and the feeling of loneliness and isolation they felt, as well as the deeper negative thoughts they felt. The artwork they create is beautiful but simplistic in its symbolism: the pain and frustration of feeling like they’re alone is clear. Some of their artwork also highlights how they sometimes feel like they’re always being watched too; as if all eyes on them, and the pressure they feel under that.
The film’s epilogue which takes place a year later, however, is eye opening. Brendon is now in college and amongst people who are more accepting of them. Because of this, they say that they’re in a better place now mentally as well as physically. It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long for them to feel comfortable around other people but, at the same time, it’s heart warming to know that people are more accepting of them in their current environment.
The world can be a bitter place, especially in times like now, but it’s also become far more accepting. And, even with this knowledge, we have a long way to go still. ‘Draw With Me’ is not only a fantastic film, but an extremely important one. Not everyone feels like they were born in the correct body and that’s ok. You deserve to feel comfortable in your body, whether that’s the one you were born with or not.
The Trevor Project is an American non-profit organization founded in 1998. It’s focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. If you feel you do need help, The Trevor Project has a free (US) helpline, and text chat. The link is here: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/
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