The remarkable story of Sam and Evan was told in a Nine Lives Media documentary, From Girls to Men, screened on BBC Three in 2011. Sam and Evan identify themselves as gay male couple. The documentary was an extraordinary insight into the world of two extraordinary people starting out on the process of gender reassignment.
The story begins as 18 year-old Sam is about to relocate from the Home Counties to Rochdale to live with the man he has fallen in love with. And so unfolds the tale of how the two met and fell in love. They’re charming, eloquent and decidedly open about what it’s like to live as transgender. “What you are born with between your legs, that’s your sex,” explains Evan, “but gender is how you feel, what’s between your ears”.
The film takes a candid look at the conflicts the two go through on both a personal and a social level. In one segment the couple are walking from the house they share with Evan’s mother to the bus stop. Undeterred by the camera crew, the local youth circle on bikes, with hoodies up to mask identity. They subject Sam and Evan to catcalls of abuse and a lobby of eggs. The scene ends with Evan wrapped around Sam’s smaller frame whispering, “don’t cry”. It’s shocking and it’s distressing. Nevertheless, the support of family & friends counters the prejudice and in the end it’s a story of hope.
This exceptional and sensitive documentary was a moving insight into the lives of two young men. Within the community, and especially in its press, the ‘T’ from LBGT is all too often overlooked. Agreeing to take part in this documentary, which would at times lay bare their more personal and intimate moments, was nothing less than brave. And by doing so, Evan and Sam increased awareness, and the visibility, of transgendered people. They did that with a dignity and humour that was thoroughly endearing. That is what makes them heroes.