Madin Lopez offers gender-non-conforming youth a “Transformation” tonight on MTV

MTV has been a pivotal part of LGBT visibility on reality television since Pedro came out as gay and HIV positive on the third season of The Real World in 1994.

Since then, they’ve included queer people and their stories on shows like Next, Catfish, True Life, Generation Cryo and (for better or for worse) A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. Tonight’s documentary, Transformation, solidifies the network’s want to not only be inclusive, but to uplift queer and gender-non-conforming youth.


Transformation follows a group of trans teens and young adults as they go through a gender-affirming makeover led by out genderqueer hairstylist Madin Lopez. Madin, a stylist at queer-owned Folklore Salon in Los Angeles, is the founder of Project Q, a non-profit that works to “LGBTQIA and homeless youth combat bullying, develop self-esteem and find an identity for themselves through hair styling.” In tonight’s documentary, Madin shares their own story of childhood trauma and explains how working with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to provide confidence-boosting haircuts and styles to those without resources has helped to heal some of their own wounds.


What was originally intended to be a five-minute short about trans youth, Madin says, turned into an hour-long doc celebrating an often overlooked or ignored population. Filmmakers Mellisa Johnson and Kaitlyn Howes follow Madin and their selected trans and gender non-binary subjects throughout the makeover process, which also includes a fashion stylist, a photoshoot, and a run down the catwalk in front of a crowd of supportive family and friends.


“When they asked me to be apart of this, I was excited but terrified,” Madin tells GO. “I call it scare-cited.There were many times were I had to be very honest with these two white cis straight gals. They were being very nice and kind, but unfortunately, there are people that have come into my life before them [that] left a bit of baggage. Showing up for myself enough to be honest about the hardship of vulnerability forced me to have self-compassion.”


Madin hopes Transformation will help “bridge the gap between folks in the queer community and others by creating actual conversations that both parties can identify with.”


“Too often stories seem to patronize the viewer with surface level issues,” Madin says. “There is still a long way to go, but this film is taking us twice as far as we have come.”


What Project Q and Transformation ultimately provide is a kind of hope that is missing for a lot of LGBTQ youth who are consistently met with the message that they are undeserving of love or any kind of visibility.


“All that we can do is try and help someone through hard times that we have experienced,” Madin says. “All that we are giving the youth is a haircut and a safe space. But they are walking away with self-worth and the knowledge that they deserve to prosper.”


Transformation airs tonight at 10 ET on MTV. To donate to ProjectQ visit the website or text 56512 with the code projectq (space) the amount (space) your name.  

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