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Queer people say it’s important now – more than ever – to create safe spaces that foster joy and community. WUSF’s Daylina Miller takes you around the greater Tampa Bay region to some of these events and meet-ups to showcase queer joy and stories of hope and resilience.

The Tampa Bay Transgender Film Festival will showcase stories of hope and resilience

Carys Mullins is one of the producers of "You're Loved," which will be shown at the Tampa Bay Transgender Film Festival.
Carys Mullins
Carys Mullins, one of the film festival's producers.

The Tampa Bay Transgender Film Festival was originally founded in partnership between Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and St Pete Pride. It continues this year as a hybrid event with in-person and virtual showings.

The Tampa Bay Transgender Film Festival opens Friday, March 31, on International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate and amplify trans voices.

The film festival started in 2020 during the pandemic as a virtual experience, and expanded this year to also include in-person events.

The films are the community's answer to Hollywood and media misrepresentation of the trans community.

One of the films, which premieres opening night, is called "You're Loved,” a 50-minute documentary that follows three trans youth in Florida and Texas as they navigate systems of oppression in states that are increasingly targeting trans people.

“It's essentially three transgender youth who are just boldly sharing their stories of resilience during a time of just increasing national oppression and hostility,” said Carys Mullins, the film's producer, who is 19 years old and describes herself as a gender nonconforming woman.

‘We just want to hear their experiences, whether that be their experience of coming out, or their experience with discrimination and how current events are affecting them.”

Mullins said now’s not the time to isolate, but to find community and speak out.

“We need to get our voices out there. We need to say, ‘hey, we're not going to just hide in the shadows.’ You're not just going to see (these films) on some private YouTube channel. This is going to be a festival. We're going to celebrate these stories.”

Her main audience for her film is other trans youth.

“Your voice is important. Your opinions are important," Mullins said. "No matter what anybody says, you deserve to be heard, you are loved. That's the message for trans kids.”

And for everyone else, Mullins said she hopes these stories convey why people should care about the trans community.

Buy tickets and see the schedule of events here.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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