I Stand Corrected

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 12, 2012

I Stand Corrected

Andrea Meyerson's documentary "I Stand Corrected" has scooped up an armload of awards and a few minutes into the film it's not hard to see why.

John Leitham was already a name in jazz, having worked with some of the biggest stars in the business (Doc Severinson, Mel Torme, and George Shearing, to name a few) when he transitioned to Jennifer--the name her former wife gave her in 1980.

Like many trans people, Jennifer knew early in life that she was not in the right kind of body. As she says in the doc, "I felt that my body was the wrong projection of who I was in my brain." As she grew older and entered adolescence, the feeling only grew stronger; Jennifer took refuge in music, learning to play stringed instruments (left-handed, even though she is naturally right-handed) and cultivating a talent that would define her career just as her quest to become the person she truly felt herself to be would define her life.

The film is generously sprinkled with jazz music, and throbs with the vitality of the musical form. As various interviewed subjects note, jazz can be a "macho" and "homophobic" culture, and it's true that Jennifer has probably lost major opportunities in the wake of her transition; but following her own path in life and in music has freed her to become the musician and singer that she was meant to be. Indeed, before embracing a renewed life as a woman, Jennifer was afraid to sing;. While still living as a man, she feared that her singing was giving too much away: "My voice was coming from my heart," Jennifer confides. "And my heart was a girl."

Fittingly, this documentary is a gem.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.