From Hammer To Nail: A documentary alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking, director Matt Kliegman’s Markie in Milwaukee follows Markie Wenzel, a transgender woman in Wisconsin, as she alternates between male and female identities, torn between her innermost desires and the pressures of religion and family. When we first meet her in 2013, she is a he, in the process of destroying photos and evidence of her female self, becoming, once more, Mark Wenzel. We then flash back to the process, begun in 2005, of Mark becoming Markie. A deeply religious man – and evangelical preacher, as well – Mark had long struggled with the woman inside him, begging to be let out. Married and a father of three, he was at a loss, until finally he just came out as Markie, unable to bear the strain any longer. The fact that he was 7 feet tall, weighed 400 pounds and was, in his own words, very masculine, complicated matters. Who would accept such a man as a woman?

Remarkable in its frank discussion of an important matter, Markie in Milwaukee is also extraordinary for its seemingly unfettered access to its protagonist, who appears all in for this intimate dissection of their process, even if they are not always sure what that process means. Who is Markie? A human being, in all their marvelous complexity. That’s all we need to know.

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