Growing Up Coy
The Rocky Mountains loom over rural Fountain, Colorado, a farm town on the outskirts of the conservative Colorado Springs area. In a small duplex home, Kathryn, 27, a portrait photographer and Jeremy, 31, a former marine and full time student, give the “5 minute warning” for bedtime to their 5 kids: 8 Year-old Dakota, 6-year-old triplets - Coy, Max, and Lily, as well as little Auri, who is 3. The kids scream “Nooo!” - a familiar scene in millions of households across America. That night, Kathryn decides to read Coy’s favorite book, “Be Who You Are”– which shows the challenges of a gender variant child “Nick” as he transforms into “Hope”. It is Coy’s favorite book because Coy was born a boy biologically, but since she was 18 months old she has identified as a girl.
Kathryn laments, “At first, we thought it was a phase that he liked the color pink and wearing girly clothes. But one day, shortly before Coy began kindergarten, Coy asked ‘When are the doctors going to take my penis off?’ - and then I knew this was something serious.”
After consulting with a therapist and a little soul searching, Coy’s parents allowed Coy to publicly transition from male to female in Kindergarten with the support of her teachers and classmates. She also used the girls’ bathroom without incident until the school administration abruptly reversed their decision in the middle of her 1st grade year, letting Kathryn and Jeremy know that going forward, Coy must use the boys bathroom or school nurse’s bathroom.
Devastated that their daughter would be singled out and humiliated, the Mathises decide to fight back and retain attorney Michael Silverman to file a complaint on their behalf with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, pursuing a case that would set a precedent for school districts across the state and the nation.
After a press conference on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, suddenly the Mathis family is at the center of an international media circus, with their child on the front page of the New York Times – and the target of extreme scrutiny from critics around the world.
What comes next is a tumultuous year full of ups and downs as the Mathises fight a very public battle that never lets up, ultimately threatening the very fabric of their family. Coy’s parents become outspoken public defenders of their daughter’s rights, and we see Coy make the transition from an innocent 6-year-old-girl to the proverbial “poster child” for the trans youth movement. More about the film here.
2016 Raindance - Best Documentary
2016 Bend Film Festival - Best Documentary
2016 Ojai Film Festival - Festival Theme Award
"The film could not be timelier, with transgender issues at the forefront…" - Cara Buckley, The New York Times
"… beyond becoming an important historical document, the film provides unique insight into what anyone who dares to stand up for their rights must endure when their fight" - Stephen Saito, The Moveable Feast
"...urgent viewing… more than a simple advocacy film…" - Nigel Smith, The Guardian
"…devastating and topical… a gorgeously made and breathlessly moving piece of work…" - Joshua Brunsting, Criterion
Director/Producer: Eric Juhola
Producer/Editor: Jeremy Stulberg
Executive Producer: Diana Holtzberg
Director of Photography/Co-Producer: Randy Stulberg
2016, USA, 90 min, in English