At times throughout her life, Trisha Shattuck wanted to die. “When you carry around this feeling that you’re not normal and that something’s not right, in your head, it’s incredibly depressing, and it’s a heavy weight upon your shoulders,” she recounts.
Trisha is a transgender woman featured in the new documentary From This Day Forward, which had its world premiere at Full Frame last month and is still screening at major film festivals. Directed by Sharon Shattuck, Trisha’s daughter, the documentary explores the struggles and the growth Trisha and her family have experienced since she transitioned from living as a man to living as a woman when Sharon was still a child. Ultimately, the family’s growth defines the film, making From This Day Forward an unconventional, but no less real, love story.
A filmmaker and animator who specializes in science-based storytelling, Sharon felt compelled to make the film as a means of answering questions still lingering from her childhood. Her dad began transitioning while Sharon was still in grade school, and, not surprisingly, the transition was difficult for Sharon to accept. “When I was younger, I pretty much rejected my dad. I just didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had a transgender parent,” Sharon explains, “For me, I think that a lot of the past is unresolved. As hard as it might be for my family, I want to ask the questions I couldn’t ask back then.”
As an adult, Sharon has come not just to tolerate but to embrace her transgender parent, and Sharon’s development from embarrassment to embrace provides an engaging storyline for the documentary. Still, the heart of From This Day Forward is the story of Trisha and her wife Marcia’s marriage. From the beginning of the film, Trisha is a delight. Though candid about her struggles with gender expression, most of the time she is funny, playful, and adventurous. However, as Marcia points out, Tricia is a woman, and Marcia married a man. Their marriage—again, not surprisingly—has thus been challenging and almost ended more than once. Yet their love for each other has withstood the challenge. “It’s a spiritual attraction and connection” that keeps them together, Marcia reflects, “It is this inner being that’s the attraction, and it’s always there, and there’s nothing really that can break it.” Later in the film, Trisha adds, “Once you start putting down those years with your mate . . . you develop a history, and it’s that shared history and the shared memories that end up stitching together our lives.”
Beautifully captured on film by their filmmaker daughter Sharon, Trisha and Marcia’s shared memories also end up stitching together From This Day Forward and making it a love story as heartwarming and inspiring as it is unconventional. From This Day Forward thus illuminates not only one transgender person’s experience but also the universal qualities of a successful marriage.
Full Frame will be screening From This Day Forward at the Durham theater for free on Friday, May 15. You can reserve your free ticket here. You can also like the film’s Facebook page to stay updated on future screenings and distribution.