Little Miss Westie Documentary

Documentary, 1 h 15 m

Facing the judges wearing her brother’s hand-me-downs



Meet the McCarthys, a truly open and inspiring American family

Little Miss Westie is a documentary from Joy E Reed and Dan Hunt following siblings Luca and Ren McCarthy. We meet the Mum and Dad, who introduce to us that they have two children – they used to have a girl and a boy, but now they have a boy and a girl.

The documentary follows two years and includes focus on ‘The Lil Miss Westie’ pageant which Lucas previously participated in and won trophies, and that Ren now wants to enter. The use of footage from them both before they transitioned shows the journey they have gone on.

The parents are so open and accepting and the documentary carries an important message that it is a difficult process, but that the benefits for the children in terms of confidence and happiness is worth it. The documentary doesn’t shy away from the tougher aspects of transgender children including depression, attempted suicide, bullying at school as well as the impact of external influences such as politics. This documentary balances these tough messages with positivity and encouragement.

You get to see Luca and Ren blossom, and have a beautiful glimpse into their sibling relationship – which is just like any other with the older brother wanting to help his little sister; but she just wants to have fun and do things her way!

It was really interesting to hear Luca’s thoughts on knowledge of his birth name and also how the parents dealt with the effective loss the children they borne and named. These honest accounts were just a few that really connected you to this family. It is also good to see that there are Family Fun weekends in America for parents of trans children to come together and share experiences and concerns whilst the children play together.

I was shocked to hear that it is thought that 1 in 6 families have more than one child who is transgendered, but then I thought about how many families I know with multiple LGBT people and the fact that in open and honest environments more people can be themselves, and it didn’t seem so strange but rather encouraging. It was sad to have to see the parents talking about the political climate in the US, and the sudden rush to get papers in order in case of changes in laws or the potential introduction of conversion therapy but this also gave deeper understanding to how seemingly small changes can have major impacts on members of society.

BFI Flare 20191 logoWe saw this film as part of the 2019 BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival. The festival is running from 21 March to 31 March 2019.

You can find out more about BFI Flare on their website.

You can also check out our go to guide to women's films at BFI Flare.


Pronouns: they/them

Oh My! Productions

Joy E. Reed is the creative force behind Oh, MY! Productions. Established in 2005, Oh, MY’s original films have met with success both domestically and abroad. Oh, MY has been involved in the production of documentaries that have premiered at Sundance and Tribeca, have received theatrical distribution, and are viewable on Netflix and Amazon. To see an abridged current list visit Joy’s IMDB page.

Interview with Joy E. Reed, director

How did you come on board with the Little Miss Westie Documentary

A former student of co-director Daniel Hunt approached him as he felt that the story was more than a journalism piece. He wanted to work with someone else, so contacted me and asked if I’d like to collaborate again.

What was the period of filming?

The documentary was filmed over 2 years. Kids change so quickly, which was both positive and difficult at the same time.

The Lil Miss Westie Pageant came across as very accepting

I can’t say enough nice things about the Lil Miss Westie pageant. The pageant is very inclusive and open and understanding of people’s differences.

Were there any surprises along the way?

Trump was elected. That was a bad surprise. It did lend a certain amount of tension that may not have existed otherwise. It is hard to say we were fortunate, but in this instance it was a great way to be able to demonstrate the difficulties that trans kids go through without having to state statistics.

What is one takeaway from this production that will stay with you?

I’m in love with the family. They are so unapologetically themselves. I’m always blown away at what incredibly good parents Chris and Shelley are and how they listen to their kids. What I hope other people take away is that kids are kids first, and trans second. Their transness is just one aspect of these very multi-faceted people.

What’s next?

I’m working with a first-time director about her and her partner; she is a cisgender woman and her partner is a transgender man. The documentary follows a two year period whilst he undergoes bottom surgery.

Watch the trailer

The Techy bit

To find out more about the cast, crew, genre and where you can get this film, check out the LesFlicks Film Database.