Trans Filmmaker Jake Graf’s New Short ‘Headspace’ Shows What’s in Trans People’s Heads
Jake Graf has just released a new film, Headspace that takes a look at what it’s like to be trans.
The film follows a few different characters and allows us to hear their internal monologue — like in the British cult TV comedy Peep Show — as they go about their day.
While Jake Graf is perhaps most known for his role in the film The Danish Girl, he’s also a filmmaker in his own right. And while The Danish Girl got flak for casting a cisgender man in the lead — as trans artist Lili Elbe — Graf’s film casts all trans actors.
We see Captain Hannah Winterbourne from the British Army getting a call from her bank — and having to deal with being misgendered due to her voice. Jake Graf himself appears as the only man in his gynecologist’s office. Laith Ashley is a gym-goer who’s afraid to take a shower when he realizes he’s not alone. YouTuber Kieran Moloney struggles with an out-of-order public restroom. And Laith Ashley dreads being outed as trans by some construction workers.
The film is stressful to watch because you feel the discomfort of the situations the characters are placed in. And unlike other films that make the audience uncomfortable, all the scenarios are common things we’ve all run across. Ashley’s segment features the one glimpse of humor — where she’s happy just to be flirted with. “Things must be changing,” she thinks.
Headspace is outstanding — it’s no wonder it’s being used in hospitals, schools and prisons as an educational tool. The film is also now being developed into its own television series.
This isn’t Graf’s first film — it’s his sixth non-documentary short. Much of his work deals with queerness; Dusk is about a young person in 1950s England struggling with gender roles. X-Why is about the changes that happen emotionally and physically when the main character transitions. And Brace is about a gay couple where one partner is trans and is unsure he’s accepted by his boyfriend.
Even aside from what makes Headspace so important, it’s a legitimately great film. Graf and his cinematographer Hunter Daly set up gorgeous shots. As difficult as the film is emotionally, it’s a treat for the eyes.
We can’t wait to see what Graf does with the full series — we don’t know when or where it’ll appear, but we’re counting the days!