The new film 3 Generations explores the journey undertaken by Ray, a transgender teen, and his mother and grandmother.
There is no sex, graphic violence or drug use in the movie, which stars Elle Fanning as Ray and Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon as the family matriarchs, but the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave it an R rating, ensuring moviegoers under 17 won't be able to see it without an adult accompanying them.
Blair Durkee, a transgender woman in South Carolina, has launched a Change.org petition urging the MPAA to reconsider its rating.
"I saw characters that I could look at and see myself reflected in—and that made a huge difference in my life. It breaks my heart when I think about those kids who won’t be able to see this movie because of its 'R' rating," writes Durkee. "This is a story about them, being denied to them, simply because the MPAA doesn’t know what to do with the subject matter."
Sarandon has called 3 Generations "an important movie for everyone to see, especially transgender youth who are feeling isolated or fearful and their families. It’s ridiculous to have an ’R’ rating which would prevent this audience from seeing the film."
GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis sent a letter to MPAA chairs Christopher Dodd and Joan Graves earlier this week, calling out the film industry's "shockingly awful history" when it comes to depictions of the trans community.
"For over 50 years, transgender characters have been used as fodder in films where they were either psychopathic killers, deviant freaks, or pathetic victims. In GLAAD’s most recent report on the film industry, we counted just one transgender character in mainstream film in 2016 and that character existed simply to be laughed at and mocked."
According to GLAAD, 3 Generations is the first major-studio film to depict a trans teenmainstream film ever to portray a transgender teenager. (The 1997 French film Ma Vie en Rose depicted a gender-nonconforming 7-year-old, and also received an R rating. Films like Hot Pursuit, Instructions Not Included, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which included trans people as punchlines, all were rated PG-13.
"All that differentiates 3 Generations from other PG-13 films is a few instances of strong language," the organization said in a statement. GLAAD is slated to speak with representatives from the MPAA to discuss the film's rating before the film's May 5 premiere.