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Transgender Prince George teen subject of film at Hot Docs

Hot Docs has a short doc in its lineup this year about Milan, a transgender Prince George teen. Audiences learn how he has been severely bullied and received death threats, and has missed almost two years of school.

Handsome and Majestic received its premiere this week in Toronto

Milan appears in a still from Handsome and Majestic. The short documentary, about the severe bullying of the transgender teen, debuted in Toronto at Hot Docs. (hotdocs.ca)

A transgender teen in Prince George, B.C., who struggled to grow up in safety is the subject of a documentary film that has been screened all this week at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto.

Handsome and Majestic tells the story of Milan, who was born female and transitioned to male and experienced severe hardships in his hometown as he did so.

"The filmmakers approached us, and we had to think long and hard about outing Milan further in the public," Milan's mother, Lynnell Halikowski, toldRadio West host Audrey McKinnon.

"As a family we discussed what had been happening for him in terms of school and really severe bullying, and that somebody needed to know that the life for trans kids is tough and that school districts aren't doing enough."

Milan's bullying has included death threats, and Halikowski says her son was out of school for a year a year and a half at one point. She says Milan, now in Grade 8, has again been out of school for the past two months because of the bullying.

She says the documentary about Milan is getting a "powerful" response from audiences.

"People are outraged for what happened to Milan at school … the outcry is amazing," she said. "So that's hopeful. When people get upset, hopefully they turn that into something positive around education and moving forward."

Still, she says watching the adversity her son has faced on a big screen is "gut-wrenching."

"When you find yourself in trauma, you just kind of put your head down and keep going forward. That's kind of where we've been the last two months," she said. "The film kind of brought back some of that past pain."

Still, she says her son has been brave through the ordeal.

"Milan has always [said] … 'I need to tell people. People need to know," she said.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Transgender Prince George teen's struggles with bullying subject of doc film