Contributing Author: Stephen Lucin
Published: February 10, 2015
As we win the rights to same-sex marriage, state after state, in courthouses throughout the country, they say that the new frontier in LGBTQ rights is transgender rights. Bringing to light this issue and the story of one man’s journey of self-struggle to self-actualization, filmmaker Lori Petchers highlights the life of transgender youth advocate and Connecticut native Tony Ferraiolo in the film entitled “A Self-Made Man.”
Having struggled with suicide and personal and outside physical and emotional harm, as well as coming to terms with his male gender identity though being assigned a female gender at birth because of the appearance of his physical body, Tony Ferraiolo has triumphed as an individual throughout his life. He has undergone gender reassignment surgery and has come to be one with his male gender identity, both mentally and physically. He has also become a motivational speaker, a life coach and a role model for transgender youth and their legal guardians.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey,” explains Ferraiolo. “My life wasn’t easy. She [Lori Petchers] takes all of my struggles and weaves them together with the work I’m doing now with trans youth. The work simply builds the bridge between the youth and their families. It’s an honor for me to help them create not only the life they want, but the life they deserve. ‘A Self-Made Man’ film is a great way to educate people about the transgender community.”
The film follows Ferraiolo through his journey of acceptance of himself and along his path of helping transgender youth overcome their own personal struggles. He also works with the families of youth, and has developed various support groups to help people of all ages.
“Ninety percent of the time I cry half way home. To see the growth, to see a kid come in with their head down and then to see them eventually say ‘I’m going to college,’ – we just have to get them past the shame of being trans. Everyone has the power to create the life they want,” said Ferraiolo.
Norwalk’s Triangle Community Center will present a screening of “A Self-Made Man” at the Bijou Theatre (275 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, CT) on February 18, 2015 at 6 p.m. It will help support the work of Tony Ferraiolo while also providing a great program for the residents in and around Bridgeport, TCC members and the LGBTQ Community alike.