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“A Self-Made Man,” a Story of Change

Justin Cella, Contributing Writer

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On Thursday, Sept. 14, MOGAIlize held a Twisted Thursday to show the film “A Self-Made Man.” The film focused on Tony Ferraiolo, a transgender man, by showing his transition. Before the showing, he provided some background for the film and followed up with a Q&A.

Ferraiolo started support groups in New Haven, Conn. for transgender youth and their families in 2008. He said that he transitioned in 2005 and that he thought there was a need for support groups for transgender children and young adults. With his support groups, he said he’s managed to serve close to 450 families that come from all over the tri-state area.

“There were L.G.B. youth groups but the L, G and B’s were making fun of the T’s, so I had to prevent it,” Ferraiolo said.

In the film, there’s a scene showing Ferraiolo taking his testosterone shot. He said that the musical director had a hard time with the scene. The director didn’t want to make it seem too happy or too sad, but Ferraioli believes it hit the mark. He recalled his first time viewing the film and how it felt to look at himself in the movie.

“Oh my god that guy’s so brave and I was like ‘wait, that’s me,’” Ferraioli said at the time.

Over the years Ferraiolo has done binder drives for transgender men. Binders are compression shirts that minimize the appearance of a person’s breasts. He said he’s sent out over three hundred binders to transgender people all over the world. For those who are not in a financial situation to be able to buy binders, he gives them free of charge. Binders can give a confidence boost and make them feel whole.

During the Q&A Ferraiolo was telling a story about binding.

“I have about 20 young humans in the room and then this other kid walks in and he was very sad and his energy was so dark but I noticed him. At the end of the workshop I said, ‘oh and by the way there’s binders take two or whatever.’ I had that many binders to give out. After my workshop, I get this hug from the back and it almost took my breath away. I look up and there’s this kid, he smiles like ‘look at me Tony look at me.’ It was that kid but once he put a binder on his whole energy shifted and he was smiling. It could bring me to tears to this day it was so powerful,” he said.

Ferraiolo, during his Q&A session, took questions from the audience. One question he was asked was about the difference between when he transitioned compared to now. He said that there’s more resources for those who do struggle.

“People say to me ‘these kids they got it easy today.’ No, they don’t because that inner struggle doesn’t change but there’s more resources for them now,” he said.

He also said he gets phone calls from doctors, therapists and parents saying, “I have a kid that has gender identity issues.” He described his typical response to this concern.

“No they don’t have an issue with their gender identities, everyone around them does; they know who they are,” he said.

The spokesperson of MOGAIlize, Josh Carbajal, said he’s never watched the film and wanted to get that raw emotion the first time.

“The best part of the Q&A was that everyone could relate to what Tony was saying. Tony made some powerful statements which helped me personally and it really helped me learn more about the transgender community,” said Tia Blauvelt, a participant.

For those students who are transgender and want a binder, contact anyone in MOGAIlize.

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“A Self-Made Man,” a Story of Change