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.
by Monika Treut
with Annie Sprinkle, Beth Stephens, Stafford, Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Max Wolf Valerio
Germany 2021 English 88’ Colour Documentary form

Part of the Berlinale Summer Special


  • Annie Sprinkle
  • Beth Stephens
  • Stafford
  • Sandy Stone
  • Susan Stryker
  • Max Wolf Valerio


Written and Directed by Monika Treut
Cinematography Elfi Mikesch, Robert Falckenberg, Nola Anwar, Monika Treut
Editing Angela Christlieb, Margot Neubert-Maric
Music Mona Mur
Sound Robert Falckenberg, Sophie Blomen, Jes Gallegos
Producer Monika Treut
Commissioning Editor Nicole Baum
Co-Production ZDF Mainz
3sat Mainz

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 (selection)

1985 Verführung: Die grausame Frau (Seduction: The Cruel Woman); co-director: Elfi Mikesch 1988 Die Jungfrauenmaschine (Virgin Machine) 1989 Annie; short documentary 1991 My Father is Coming 1992 Max; short documentary · Female Misbehavior; documentary · Dr. Paglia; short documentary 1998 Didn’t Do It for Love; documentary 1999 Gendernauts; documentary 2001 Kriegerin des Lichts (Warrior of Light); documentary 2005 Den Tigerfrauen wachsen Flügel (Tigerwomen Grow Wings); documentary 2009 Ghosted 2012 Das Rohe und das Gekochte (The Raw and the Cooked); documentary 2014 Von Mädchen und Pferden (Of Girls and Horses) 2016 Zona Norte; documentary 2021 Genderation; documentary

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2021