Monika Treut’s Gendernauts was one of the first films to portray the transgender movement in San Francisco. Twenty years after the film screened in Panorama in 1999, Treut seeks out the pioneers of that time. What has changed? How have the lives of the protagonists evolved? San Francisco was once, as Annie Sprinkle puts it, the “clitoris of the USA”, but today the tech industry has a firm grip on the city. Aggressive gentrification has displaced the genderqueer community of yesteryear. Under the Trump administration, hard-won transgender rights are under massive pressure as protection against discrimination in healthcare and freedom of choice in the use of public toilets are rolled back.
Alternating between quiet, unobtrusive images and flashbacks, the film delineates how the gendernauts have grown into their identities over the years, developed their careers and started families, and how their energy continues to have an impact today. Their activism has changed over time, but the struggles continue. New perspectives have been added – such as the relationship between humankind and nature in the Anthroprocene epoch – but also the question of how they want to live in old age.


  • Runtime

    88 min
  • Country

  • Year of Presentation

  • Year of Production

  • Director

    Monika Treut
  • Cast

    Annie Sprinkle, Beth Stephens, Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Max Wolf Valerio
  • Production Company

    Hyena Films e.K.
  • Berlinale Section

  • Berlinale Category

    Documentary Film

Biography Monika Treut

Born in Mönchengladbach, Germany in 1954, she completed a PhD in literature at Marburg in 1984. She began working with video in 1976 and founded Hyena Films with Elfi Mikesch in 1984. Her feature and documentary films have shaped Queer Cinema for over 35 years. The love story Seduction: The Cruel Woman, the sex melodrama Virgin Machine and the comedy My Father is Coming were followed by a series of documentaries including the multi-award-winning trans-futuristic Gendernauts. Her films have featured at the Berlinale 13 times already; in 2017, she received the TEDDY AWARD for her lifetime achievement. She also teaches at universities in California and New York and, since 2018, has been Deputy Professor of Media at the University of Hildesheim.

Filmography Monika Treut

1985 Verführung: Die grausame Frau | 1991 My Father Is Coming | 1992 Dr. Paglia | 1998 Didn't Do It For Love | 2001 Kriegerin des Lichts | 2005 Den Tigerfrauen wachsen Flügel | 2009 Ghosted | 2012 Das Rohe und das Gekochte | 2014 Von Mädchen und Pferden | 2016 Zona Norte