Documentary feature The Believers made its
The film opens with the voices of the choir each proclaiming, “I am made in the image of God.” This statement sets the stage for the balancing act that the members of Transcendence must perform, being caught between two seemingly opposing forces – the transgender community and the Christian ministry. Many from both sides of this spectrum could at first be shocked or offended to find that members of their community are in some way ‘fraternizing with the enemy.’ The main mission of Transcendence is to show that there is no ground for there to be hostility between Christians and transgender individuals.
Ashley and fellow choir members Prado and Bobbie Jean are the main focus of the film, giving personality to the struggles of the choir at large. They each tell a different story about what their transition was like, but they share the experiences of trying to succeed as a musical group whose member’s vocal ranges are tempered by inexperience and hormones. As the film progresses, the characters grow more comfortable with their performances, their status as notable figures in the transgender community, and their message that Jesus made them the way that they are and will return their love completely.
After Wednesday night’s screening, Holland and Burkhart expressed their relief that as they documented the growth of the choir, a story emerged about their journey to the United Church of Christ international synod in 2003 where they performed and shared their anecdotes in order to promote acceptance of LGBT people in the UCC’s official policies. The film makes it evident that Transcendence has had the ability to open up a lot of people’s minds to the overlapping communities portrayed in it.
The Believers premiered last summer at Frameline in