Denial: The First Step to Acceptance
Directed by Derek Hallquist (2016)
This is a very unusual documentary. I assumed it would profile the climate denial movement, but it does so only very indirectly. The film is actually a very touching profile of the filmmaker’s father, the obsessive compulsive CEO of a Vermont electrical utility who makes the difficult decision at age 50 to transition to female.
David Hallquist, whose Vermont Electricity Cooperative runs on hydropower, has been an industry pioneer in promoting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. In the film, his wife and adult children struggle with his decision to become female. It features clips from the therapist they work with. The latter helps other family members fully understand and work through their feelings of denial.
For me, the most intriguing segment of the film concerns Hallquist senior’s diagnosis of state 3 prostate cancer. When his oncologist recommends castrations (which has a 90% success rate), he’s almost gleeful to be relieved of the difficult decision whether to move from occasional cross dressing to full hormonal transition.