Mormon Transgender Woman Shares Her Journey to Self Acceptance in Award-Winning Documentary
updated 07/18/2014 AT 11:20 AM EDT
•originally published 07/17/2014 AT 04:05 PM EDT
The stunning, long-haired Eri Hayward started her life as a boy named Eddie. Growing up in the conservative climate of Utah County, with a family active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Eri had a difficult journey accepting the transgender woman she is today.
The 25-year-old shares her story in the short but powerful documentary Transmormon. The film joins Eri three days before she is to fly to Thailand for sex reassignment surgery. Through interviews with Eri and her family, viewers learn of her varied struggles with gender, the Mormon religion and beauty stereotypes. Thankfully, with the help of supportive parents and friends, Eri can say today that she is proud of the woman she has become.
"I am hoping that the documentary that you're shooting will be watched by some parents," Eri's father shares in the video. "And that may be something that we've said will help them, and through helping them, will help their children."
Transmormon's message of love and acceptance is already spreading. The documentary has started to go viral and has so far won the Artistic Vision Award at the 2014 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and the 2014 Utah Short Film of the Year Award.