Changing the Game is a 2019 documentary that covers three transgender high school athletes–Mack, Sarah and Andrea–as they compete in their respective sports of wrestling, track, and skiing. Each of them are very competitive and want to do the best in their sports, and their purpose is of course to compete against the gender that they identify with. The overall message of the movie is to enlighten audience members with the knowledge that people should not be defined by how they are born–but instead by they identify as. People in our country for years have discriminated greatly against the trans community, in part because they don’t understand and are too afraid to learn more about it.
Director Michael Barnett spke and answered questions after the screening. He told the audience that he was hired by a transgender teen’s parents to write a story on their child who had committed suicide. In doing so, Barnett discovered a trans boy who was not allowed to wrestle boys due to the school’s policy of children having to wrestle the gender they were born as. Barnett then set out to make a full-length documentary that would highlight other trans high school athletes who were being targeted due to who they were. Barnett himself, though, is completely absent in the film. We never see any crew members or anything–only the social actors in their quest for equal treatment.
The three featured athletes are given center stage here. Mack Beggs, a trans boy from Texas who competes in wrestling, wrestles girls only because that is the gender he was born as. Sarah Rose Huckman from New Hampshire competes in skiing against girls. And Andraya Yearwood, a trans girl from Connecticut, competes in track against girls. Mack is the best at wrestling, because being a boy, he is naturally stronger than all the girls he wrestles. Sarah is a good skier, not as serious as the other two, but she fights for trans rights very hard. Andraya is a track star, and people say that she is a cheater because she was a boy, so still has stronger muscle mass which allows her to be faster. The voice they have is all the same. All they want and strive for is equal rights for people like them. They aren’t trying to cheat, or do anything that is dangerous. All they want to do is compete, change and inspire. Barnett does all of them justice, but representing them and their goals in perfect light. The documentary divides their stories very well. Even though Mack was the primary focus, we got a good glimpse into all the characters. They are shown as being strong individuals, who strive for greatness, and believe in free rights for everyone.
From the moment the film began, it brought up a range of feelings about the characters and the theme of equal rights. Clearly the whole point of the documentary is to inform the viewer on the problem with equal rights for trans high school students. The intent of the movie is accomplished well, by showing us the progress the students go through, and how they all remain strong and focused on their goals without letting the hate they receive bring them down.
The film ends with all three athletes seen happy with how their lives are, and feeling full of confidence. Mack wins his second state title, and has joined the wrestling team at his college where he is able to wrestle boys. Sarah has petitioned for a bill that protects the trans community, and it is passed. Andraya has accomplished many feats in track and has inspired another trans student to come out and compete in track. All three of these young people are shown through a bright light, that inspires hope, peace, and love for all. In the end, Changing the Game should teach anyone who views it that people are people, and we are all a part of this great human race, which needs to be full of love and compassion for all.