Now Streaming in Austin: "Texas Strong"

Webby-winning documentary lets a trans kid speak for herself

Kai Shappley is a typical 7-year-old kid in Pearland, Texas, born to a very typical Pearland Christian conservative family. She is also the star of "Texas Strong," the short documentary that just took the awards for Best Video Documentary: Longform and People's Voice at the 23rd annual Webby Awards, the Oscars of online content. Still only in grade school, this young transgender girl is the face of the struggle for acceptance, while her mother Kimberly becomes an unexpected advocate for trans rights.

The 20-minute documentary is part of the Trans in America series. Presented by the ACLU and Little by Little Films, the three shorts – "Texas Strong," "Atlanta Drive," and "Chicago Love" – each presents a different aspect of the experiences of trans people in modern America. Shot by Austin cinematographer Amy Bench (Loves Her Gun) and produced by another Austinite, Lindsey Dryden (Lost and Sound, Unrest), "Texas Strong" lets young Kai explain why the infamous bathroom ban that Texas tried to pass in 2017 was just mean and didn't help anyone.

"Texas Strong" is a preview of director Daresha Kyi's feature documentary Mama Bears, which is currently in production and due out in 2020. It's a study of the thousands of Christian conservative families who break the conventional understanding – often on both sides of the fight over trans rights – that it's impossible to support the current Republican Party and still support their transgender children. Kyi said, "To risk losing your family, friends, and even your belief system because you love your child is no easy journey, but it's one that Kimberly and over 6,000 like-minded Christian mothers have willingly taken."

See the short at, or catch the entire series at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Now Streaming in Austin
Now Streaming in Austin:
Now Streaming in Austin: "The Outfit"
Yen Tan's political comedy short asks if the clothes make the man

Richard Whittaker, June 7, 2019

Now Streaming in Austin: <i>Master of Dark Shadows</i>
Now Streaming in Austin: Master of Dark Shadows
New documentary bites into the legacy of the Gothic soap

Richard Whittaker, May 10, 2019

More Now Streaming in Austin
Now Streaming in Austin: <i>Dark Side of the Ring</i>
Now Streaming in Austin: Dark Side of the Ring
Evan Husney grapples with wrestling's hidden history for Viceland

Richard Whittaker, April 19, 2019

Now Streaming in Austin:
Now Streaming in Austin: "Angus and the Boys"
Austin crime short shows the power of manipulation

Richard Whittaker, March 29, 2019


Now Streaming in Austin, Texas Strong, Kai Shappley, Trans Rights, Trans in America, ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, Little by Little Productions, Webby Awards, Pearland, Christian conservatism

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle