A teenager living in a small rural village in Hungary, Tobi came out as trans male in his mid-teens. Colors Of Tobi follows Tobi on his, often challenging, journey. Meanwhile, Alexa Bakony’s intimate and insightful documentary also explores Tobi's mother Éva's story - as she endeavours to support her beloved child in an increasingly conservative country where trans rights are being eroded.
Gender disclosure narratives in the media typically fall into two distinct categories. After a dramatic revalation, the trans person's family either disowns them or accepts them without question. Life is, of course, rarely that absolute. Even if your story falls into the second category, life can be incredibly difficult.
There is no doubt that Éva loves and supports him. Indeed, the whole family loves and supports Tobi. Both his mother and father attend Pride marches (where parents acknowledge their own coming out stories) and, at the beginning of Bakony’s film, we see them help Tobi complete the official paperwork to reflect his gender.
However, this is still a steep learning curve for them all - full of complexity and potential pitfalls. Accidental deadnaming occurs and incorrect pronouns are mistakenly used as the family comes to terms with Tobi’s identity. Celebrating Tobi’s 18th birthday, Éva remembers a time “when he was a girl”. This comment causes Tobi to leave the table in tears. “I was never a girl,” he says.
These are all genuine mistakes and, in heartwarming scenes, the family soon comes back together to express their feelings. All are doing their best - responding to each new chapter with love.
At the beginning of Colors Of Tobi, both Tobi and Éva grieve the fact that he was born in the wrong body. This is something Tobi has always known. He talks about feeling relieved when he was allowed to have short hair. How did nature let this happen, Éva wonders.
Tobi wants to have gender confirmation surgery. Éva, meanwhile, is worried about the risks inherent in these operations. They are also expensive - we watch as Tobi’s parents work out how they can save enough money to be able to afford Tobi’s medical procedures.
The family has to adapt once again when Tobi reveals that they are non-binary. There is never any doubt, however, that they will adapt. While they have many questions, the family are all committed to supporting Tobi. It is incredibly moving to watch as Tobi and Éva discuss their journey together. That they can talk about their feelings in such an open and honest way feels incredibly powerful and inspiring.