Role models within the Black trans community. Courage. Beauty. These are just some of the themes within director Susani Mahadura’s documentary, Kelet. Kelet is a young Somali trans woman living now in Finland. She has always dreamed of being on the cover of Vogue magazine. Now Kelet is going about trying to make that happen.
As is often the case with trans folks, Kelet was rejected by her family in Somalia. After moving to Finland she made a new family within the ballroom community in Helsinki which she began performing in. Part of that family is her friend Lola. Both are black and trans so there is an understanding. Things that the other understands without it having to be verbalized.
Lola, who also performs in the ballroom world, helps Kelet with her hair, makeup and clothes. Aiding her friend to attain her goal of being a model. More importantly, she also supports Kelet.
As much as now 20-year-old Kelet grew up idolizing Naomi Campbell and Iman, she is now becoming that type of person for other young black trans women who want to become a part of the modelling world.
We see all the obstacles she runs up against like her legal name and some of the clothes she has to wear which might make her reveal herself as a transitioning trans female. Things that most of us do not have to even spend two seconds thinking about. How just by being a trans woman that often she feels isolated and in dangerous situations. Multiply that by the fact that she is Black and living in a largely white country. Danger is all around her.
In her personal life, Kelet is a rather shy woman. When she starts performing at a Vogue Ball or modelling something changes. She is fierce and outgoing. Ballroom has given her that sense of security and safety. A community who loves and backs her. As such, she is able to be the person she wants without fear of rejection or retribution.
This is a film about representation. About giving a voice to people who are minorities within a minority. People who are not often seen or heard. That with the end goal that even younger Black trans can see that this is possible. Equality and safety is out there. That they can find a community, be loved and do what they dream of.