Finding a community that understands you and that you can be a part of can save a young transgender person’s life. For them to know that there is a whole world waiting for them out there able to accept them for exactly who they are is empowering. This is the transformative experience 10-year-old Crystal goes through with her mother and queer roller derby league The Vagine Regime. In her documentary In The Turn, director Erica Tremblay has crafted a compelling, reaffirming film that has the potential to be a wonderful tool for education.


Growing up in rural Timmins, Ontario was difficult for Crystal. From a very early age she knew that even though she was born biologically male, inside she was a girl and wanted nothing more than to be able to express that on the outside. She talked about suicide as early as 5 years old and talked about being a girl from the age of 3. Once she transitioned to female at school, she was bullied relentlessly for being different. In small communities where differences such as this are not common, many kids don’t understand and act out through bullying.

Crystal also faced prejudice from the school. Her mother had to fight them for Crystal to be able to use the girls’ washroom and she was unable to continue sports, being told she wasn’t allowed to join the girls’ teams. Soon after her mother started playing roller derby, they learned about the Vagine Regime queer women’s roller derby league in the United State, a place for girls like Crystal who are seeking a safe space. Crystal and her mother sent a letter to the organization and they were so touched by her story that they were determine to fundraise enough money to fly them out to Los Angeles so that Crystal could participate in a boot camp and play with other girls her age. Along the way, the film follows the stories of several other queer players from the Vagine Regime league to demonstrate that there are plenty of people out there like Crystal and for her to know she is not alone.

The important messages of this story are coming through loud and clear. The film clearly demonstrates the importance of finding a community full of people you can look up to when you’re young and transgender. Coming from a small community, Crystal didn’t have the opportunity to meet other people like her and her view of the world was depressing and limited. When she found this queer league, she found role models to look up to and learned to see the wide spectrum of possibilities. Seeing these prospects of what life can be like and that she’ll be OK is revolutionary for people who have never been given that opportunity.

The stories of the various other women the film follows are important as well to show others have gone through similar experiences and have managed to find their way to being happy, authentic selves. The sport of roller derby and more specifically the Vagine Regime league has created a welcoming atmosphere for people who need it and it’s important to encourage it with compassion and sensitivity.

This experience for Crystal has been transformative. She is becoming a much happier child now that she has found this family of people she can identify with and look up to. Films like these are excellent examples of the power that cinema can have. They enlighten and inform which removes the fear and ignorance many have about the transgender community. When we get to know these people personally, we see that there is nothing to be afraid of and that they are just being exactly who they are. This truthfulness creates empathy and understanding which leads to positive outcomes for children such as Crystal who feel depressed and alone. This is an endeavour In The Turn has successfully delivered on.

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