'Suited' documentary shows Transgender men finding their style

PARK CITY, Utah -- Derek needed a suit for his wedding. Aiden needed something for his bar mitzvah. Everett wanted a sharp interview outfit.

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All three found their fit at Bindle & Keep, a custom clothier that specializes in dressing people across the gender spectrum. The New York-based company and its clients are the subject of "Suited," a documentary premiering Monday at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film introduces viewers to people rarely seen onscreen -- transgender men -- and shows how finding a suit that highlights their masculinity profoundly affects how they feel and see themselves.

Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner produced the film, the third documentary from their Casual Romance production company. It is directed by Jason Benjamin, who also works as the boom-mike operator on Dunham's HBO show, "Girls."

Benjamin was inspired by a newspaper article about the suit-makers, expecting the moment someone put on a perfectly fitted suit for the first time would be a happy one.

"In reality," he said, "it turned out to be a much more complex moment that had happiness folded into it."

That's what makes "Suited" so much more than a movie about clothes. It's really a story about people, image and gender identity. Benjamin follows his subjects beyond the tailor's office and into the world, exploring the challenges they face as they try to get married, grow up or get jobs.

Being fitted for a suit is an intimate process -- especially when one is trying to minimize features that don't fit their self-image.

Derek wanted to be sure he would blend in with the other men at his wedding. Everett, an attorney, needed a suit that wouldn't prompt his colleagues to question his gender. Aiden, only 13, was accompanied by his grandmother, who wanted him to feel confident at his bar mitzvah.

Dunham said she was moved by the men and their families.

"This movie breaks down certain stereotypes of how a family might react to a person being trans," she said. "It really shows examples of people loving their children, not just in spite of their being trans but because of who they are and because of their bravery."

"Suited" is set to air in June on HBO.


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