‘Family in Transition,’ and the Rise in Israeli Trans & Homophobia

Family in Transition is a documentary directed by Ofir Trainin which follows the story of Amit and Galit Tsuk, an Israeli couple trying to hold their family together through Amit’s gender confirmation process. Three years in the making, the film portrays Amit’s anxieties during her hormone therapy and leading up to bottom surgery, as well as her wife Galit’s own struggle to recognize her husband as a woman, raise their children and deal with the rising homophobia in contemporary Israel.

Ofir Trainin

Trainin recently spoke to Queerty about the film and the rise in Israel’s trans and homophobia.

So how did you learn about Amit and her transition?

At the time, I had done a few short films about parents of LGBTQ children, and this story just sort of fell into my lap. When I first heard about the Tsuk family, it was just at the beginning of the transition, so I thought their story would make a very interesting film. I called Galit and told her about my experience with the LGBTQ community and that my oldest brother came out of the closet 20 years ago. I wanted the Tsuk family to understand my motivation to make an important film that advocates the acceptance of everyone.

How long were you with the family?

In total I spent about 3 years with the Tsuk family. I started filming them about 6 months after their process began. By the time I arrived, there was already a level of acceptance by the children and they called Amit mom. Before that time though, the children had refused to refer to Amit as a female and Yardan, her son, even packed a suitcase and wanted to run away from the house.

Galit (left) and Amir

Israel has something of an image in the US of being very welcoming to LGBTQ people, especially by the standards of the region. Yet the film has examples of homophobia. In general, what’s the Israeli attitude toward the community?

From my previous work, I was familiar with transgender issues and aware that, apart from Tel Aviv, life for a transgender person in conservative Israel can be very difficult and can lead to a lot of negative reactions.  Unfortunately, it is only getting worse, as Israel is becoming more and more conservative, nationalist and a religious society.

One thing the film makes clear is the struggle of certain traditional elements of Judaism to cope with the modern world and evolving concepts like gender. Since Judaism plays such an important role in Israeli society, how do you think the faith needs to adapt to include transgender people?

My main goal in making this film is to explore the life of this unique family, one that can teach us how to accept the differences in one another. They are a family that breaks social conventions, but also one that re-expands the limits of acceptance and love. I think that people of the faith can align with the overall message of tolerance and loving your neighbor.

Read complete interview in Queerty.

Family in Transition debuts in New York City November 23. A streaming release is pending.