What is it about family that brings out both the best and the worst in each of us?
This film explores that question.
My intention in making this film has shifted since I began shooting in 2003. At that time, having a transgender sister was a social anomaly in a way that it no longer is. My goal then was simply to bring greater awareness to what “transgender” even means by showing and telling Christine’s story of realizing her true identity within the context of what our family did or didn’t know prior to her coming out.
In the twelve years of gestating this story, I have come to see the real story I need to tell quite differently. First, I had to come to terms with the fact that if I stayed focused on her change, I would not only be acting as a voyeur sensationalizing her journey, but also avoiding the more difficult task of looking within myself at my responses to it. Nor would I be looking squarely at the realities of my family’s norms around handling differences. What capacity did I really have for allowing the people I love to change and grow? To what extent did we really know and accept each other?
I believe that family is the ultimate crucible. For it is there that each of us is subjected to the heat of norms, history, and expectations, and in which our best selves are refined or our spirits incinerated. The Ties That Bind reveals my family's imperfections, surprising strengths, and the complexities of love that are tested during an important chapter of our lives.
-Diana Newton, Director