Three years after initial release, ‘Krow’s TRANSformation’ makes its theatrical debut in Vancouver

The documentary, following local trans man model Krow Kian, comes to screens for Transgender Day of Visibility

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      It’s not often that a documentary that premiered three and a half years ago still gets buzz. But 2019’s Krow’s TRANSformation, which follows Maple Ridge model Krow Kian as he medically transitions, is set to have two theatrical screenings in Vancouver this month. 

      On March 24, the film will have a 6 p.m. screening at Cineworks Black Box Studio followed by a Q&A with Krow, his mother Lisa Jacobsen, doc subject Kas Baker, and filmmaker Gina Hole Lazarowich. 

      That’ll be followed a week later by another screening to mark Trans Day of Visibility on March 31. The film will also become available on-demand starting March 27.

      “Not many people have the opportunity to speak their story,” Baker, a Vancouver-based musician and entrepreneur, tells the Straight over Zoom. “I don’t think I actually really grasped the full concept of [the documentary] until it was actually happening and I was like, ‘Holy cow, this is a thing.’”

      Like the eponymous Krow, Baker is also a trans man. He started transitioning a few years earlier, and was invited to join the project by Lazarowich, who knew his mother. Before the documentary, he hadn’t really spoken about being trans. 

      “I grew up in North Van in a really cookie-cutter, suburban, very heteronormative cis white community,” Baker says. “It was kind of like the first opportunity I had to come in and speak about and own my transness, and be able to honour myself in that light.”

      Baker appears throughout the film to check in on Krow’s progress and be something of a juxtaposition: here’s the difference five years on testosterone can make. But there’s also plenty of coverage of Baker’s own story, from his gender dysphoria as a teen to having his fairytale romance as an adult. 

      “The thing I think that’s unanimous in every trans journey is that it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight,” Baker says. “The filming definitely honoured the journey that it takes to kind of get to certain points.”

      Baker and his partner Emily Seal perform throughout the documentary as musical duo Winter Youth, and their melancholic songs score much of the film. Their wedding was also caught on camera. Both his parents and in-laws adore him, and it’s touching to see such a pure celebration of trans joy.  

      “This documentary literally—there’s just so many firsts in it for me. I look at myself back then kind of owning my transness for the first time, and at the same time figuring out what that meant for me living as a trans person in society,” he muses. “I had been living in a lot of fear and a lot of hesitance, just because of my having experienced adversity. It blows my mind, seeing where we are now.”

      A number of LGBTQ2S+ people worked on the film and in post-production, and Lazarowich’s film industry mentor is non-binary. 

      Watching the film as a trans person in 2023, some moments of Krow’s TRANSformation remind me of how far we’ve come since it began filming in 2015. Some of the language around trans people feels very of its time, as do the long montages of pre-transition photos (and occasional deadnaming) of its trans masculine subjects. But its heart is in the right place—and the recent rise in anti-trans hate makes it more relevant now than ever.

      Baker and the rest of the team aren’t doing a Q&A in Vancouver on March 31, because they’ll be in Ottawa. On March 30, the team will screen the documentary in the country’s capital to MPs and senators. The press release says the event is “an effort to educate and put real people's stories in front of politicians.”

      Politicians have a lot of power over trans lives, as seen by the spike in anti-trans bills passing in U.S. statehouses. State-level bills are in the works that ban everything from trans athletes competing on congruent high school sports teams and trans kids being able to use their correct name and pronouns in school to gender-affirming medical care for young people and insurance being able to cover adult medical transition at all. 

      Baker is especially concerned by laws passing in Florida, as it’s where he had his top surgery.

      “When I started going through surgical transition, I was told in Canada I would have to wait three years… so my parents used the money they saved up for my college fund, and I went to Florida for my top surgery,” he shares. “A place that was the beginning of where I truly started to feel like myself is now a place where you can’t have access to that kind of care. It’s pretty mind-boggling.”

      While the advocacy piece is important, visibility on its own can also have an impact. Most of all, Baker hopes that Krow’s TRANSformation helps young trans people and families feel less alone.

      “If I could do anything to communicate or shed a bit of light that would make any trans youth or any parent of questioning or transitioning youth, if I can make any part of their journey feel that much more achievable, safe, just in terms of visibility—make it any bit better than what I experienced—then that’s what matters to me,” Baker says. 

      Krow’s TRANSformation will show at Cineworks at #300-1131 Howe Street on March 24 and March 31 at 6 p.m. Email for more info and free tickets. The film will also be available to stream online from March 27.