While LGBT is a common term, the transgender community remains far less understood than their lesbian, gay and bisexual counterparts. Documentary filmmaker Cecilio Asuncion goes a long way toward clearing up some of those misunderstandings with his new film "What's the T?"
After sweeping the film festival circuit, the award-winning documentary is now available to view streaming on Hulu and IndieFlix, with a DVD release slated for November.
Asuncion was inspired to make the film when he saw an Asian transgender woman on the show "Anderson Cooper 360." "Being a gay Asian, I never saw a lot of Asians on TV, and here was this amazing Asian trans girl," he said.
He started a casting search online and through personal contacts to find subjects for his film. Ultimately, this led him to five multicultural transgender women: Vi, Cassandra, Nya, Mia and Rakash. Four of them live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one is from New York.
Asuncion's biggest challenge in making the film was not the typical struggle for funding but the daunting task of scheduling: He had to fly between San Francisco and New York while still holding down his day job.
"The most unexpected and wonderful part of the whole experience is that I'm a gay director who now hangs out with trans women," he said. "People are surprised that we hang out together. But trans people have a consciousness that's very much like gay men's -- that because of your sexual identity, you need to work doubly hard to achieve what you want."
Although he'd never met a transgender person before making the film, Asuncion said, "Transgender and gay people have a common bond. Our aspirations are the same."