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Dr. Jess Ting, a Juilliard-trained bass player-turned trailblazing surgeon, today leads Mount Sinai Hospital’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery. With compassion and candor, Tania Cypriano tells his story and that of his transgender and nonbinary patients, who come to him from all walks of life and whose diversity reflects the multiplicity of communities that make up New York. Although the Affordable Care Act has put transition-related health care and gender-affirming surgery within their reach, the Trump administration‘s recent reversal of anti-discrimination health care protections for LGBTQ people puts that access to care at risk. This story spotlights the unfailingly modest and understated Dr. Ting and his patients, who too often sacrifice their jobs, their family ties, and their safety, to be their most authentic selves. Given our recent experience with the pandemic, audiences will hopefully approach this film with a new appreciation for the role of the medical community in saving lives.

USA    2019    92 MINS.    KINO LORBER

Presented with support from Film Forum’s Documentary Fund. Leadership gifts received from: Hugo Barreca, Leon and Michaela Constantiner, Ostrovsky Family Fund.

Presented with support from the R.G. Rifkind Foundation Endowment for Queer Cinema and the Richard Brick, Geri Ashur, and Sara Bershtel Fund for Social Justice Documentaries.


“I was deeply affected and enlightened by BORN TO BE. It marked the very first time I have seen the medical journeys of transgender people portrayed in a way that is rooted in BORN TO BE, they will come to understand, not just the necessity of this work, but its emotional and spiritual impact on patients, on families, on doctors, and everyone else.”
– Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign

“Lively. Moving and fascinatingly forward-looking.”
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Poignant and finely tuned. [Dr. Jess] Ting’s thoughtful, measured, and sensitive approach to the transgender population are just part of what make him such a satisfying documentary subject. (His sense of humor and background as a Juilliard-trained classical musician does the rest.)... Filmmaker Tania Cypriano treats her tireless subject with utmost sensitivity.  Her intimate and highly compelling film… uses an eclectic range of patients to highlight humanity and advocacy, not sensationalism.  (Includes a)  balanced spectrum of the trans community, infusing the clinical setting with wit, warmth, and humanity to spare.”
– Jude Dry, IndieWire

“Deeply moving and humane.”
– Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“(An) incredible film.”
– Amy Jenkins, BOMB

“Fascinates and educates. Sympathetic yet journalistically precise. It’s the stories of the patients that are the most moving and complex in the film. There’s a tension always at play, and the film refuses to sugarcoat the real implications. A well-rounded, deep examination...of gender reassignment. With moments of sadness, joy and even comedy, the film is both emotionally and intellectually stimulating.  A film filled with interesting characters, fascinating scientific progress, deeply provocative moral questions.”
– Jason Gorber, POV Magazine

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