My Name Was January (Director Elina Gress, Lenee Son)

The documentary film My Name Was January directed by Elina Gress, Lenee Son is dedicated to the tragic fate of 26-year-old transgender January Marie Lapuz, who was killed in her home in New-Westminster (Canada).

January lived a very difficult life. She was an immigrant from the Philippines. To earn a living, she was forced to be survival sex worker. She was also a good singer and dancer. She was practically a cult character in the local LGBT community. She had many friends and admirers.

The film consists of the interviews with people who knew January closely. Thanks to their fragmentary stories we can create in our mind an image of a living person who recently lived near these people. The most touching episodes is the conversation with January’s mother. She still has a habit of calling January as «he.» Impossible to watch without tears the mother’s monologue. She looks devastated and deeply unhappy. But in a few minutes later we find out that this woman is not January’s birth mother. It turns out she took the baby from another woman for a fee. It happened in the Philippines. And this is one of the most shocking moments.

The film contains a lot of touching and emotional moments. The most memorable moments is a documentary footage with January. We see a cheerful and pretty woman who is a pride favorite.

The filmmakers do not try to put a global task in this work. They are interested in private story of a common person who died, but remained in the memories.

If you look away from the main theme of the film, it turns out that after death, we all somehow continue to live in other people’s memories. This gives reason to think about this virtual immortality. At the very least, there is an incentive to be a good person. January was just such a person. She left behind bright and good memories.

Watching this film we involuntarily think that even Western free society has a problem of acceptance of «other». January was a transgender and sex worker. She had to lead a risky life. Was this lifestyle was the only way to make a living?

After watching the film we have a many other questions. January was an immigrant. Did this fact prevent her from building any career in Canada? How her death has influenced on Canadian society? Watching the movie we involuntarily compare this situation with such conservative countries where the problem of transgender people is silenced. For example, the transgender people in Russia are initially live in a marginal position. But the situation with January shows that the problems of transgender socialization are take place in western countries.

This film must show people that transgender people are the same people as others. They are not perverts or lunatics. And public institutions should help them adapt to society.

This story was filmed with great skill and it leaves a lot of thoughts and questions after viewing. Even if you see January first time in this movie and never heard about her until this moment you would imbued with sympathy to her person and you will empathy for her tragic fate.