Date of Graduation

12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Journalism

Advisor

Larry Foley

Committee Member

Hayot Hayot Tuychiev

Second Committee Member

Niketa Reed

Keywords

Arkansas, documentary, LGBTQ, Southern, transgender, veteran

Abstract

This documentary short film is about a now 30-year-old transgender man telling his story of growing up queer in a small Arkansas town, from being outed as a lesbian in high school, to ultimately being accepted as a trans man by members of his military and biological families. Benjamin “Benji” Davis grew up in the small town of Friendship, Arkansas, enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after high school and served for six years, then came back to Arkansas and primarily lived in Little Rock until he moved to Denver, Colorado this fall. The documentary is structured linearly both with Benji’s past and present storylines; the film follows Benji from June to September 2021 and chronicles parts of Benji’s story from being assigned female at birth to present-day, nearly four years into his transition. Benji hopes that moving to Colorado will be a fresh start for him, a place where he can be “just Benjamin.” The goal of this documentary is to provide Benji an outlet for telling his story to friends, family, and strangers, hopefully guiding the audience to understand the point of view of a trans person from Arkansas and that of his father, a religious Southern man who loves and supports his child despite his upbringing. My hope is Benji’s story will encourage viewers to be compassionate, especially those who don’t know much or anything about the trans or LGBTQ+ community in general.

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