The Most Dangerous Year

The Most Dangerous Year, A Film by Vlada Knowlton

A story of families fighting for the human and civil rights of their children.

Host a virtual, one-time educational screening as a stand-alone virtual event or as part of an online staff training or workshop.
Schedule a Virtual Q&A with the Filmmaker for a facilitated discussion about the concepts and themes of the film.


The Most Dangerous Year, A Film by Vlada Knowlton, tells the story of a group of Washington State families embarking on an uncharted journey to fight for the protection of the human and civil rights of their children.

2016 was identified by The Human Rights Campaign as the most dangerous year for transgender Americans. A wave of discriminatory legislation swept across the United States aiming to restrict transgender people’s access to gender-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms.

The Most Dangerous Year documents the stories of several families and a local school district navigating the politics and legislation as well as the science and research behind transgender civil rights and the transgender experience.

Host a virtual, one-time educational screening of The Most Dangerous Year at your school as a stand-alone virtual event or as a part of an online staff training or workshop.

About The Filmmaker

Vlada Knowlton is an award-winning filmmaker based in Seattle. Her debut documentary feature, Having It All, was selected by Washington’s PBS station, KCTS9, as the anchor program for its Women Who Inspire series in 2015, and went on to also be broadcast by Oregon Public Broadcasting. Her current documentary, The Most Dangerous Year (2019), was awarded the Professional Grant from Women in Film Seattle and an Open 4Culture Grant. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival, receiving a runner-up award for Best Documentary, and went on to win a Best Social Issue Documentary award at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival. Vlada holds a doctorate in Cognitive Science from Brown University and worked at Microsoft prior to her filmmaking career.

In 2014, Vlada and her husband, Chadd, were not prepared for the discovery that their youngest child was transgender. At that time, there was not a lot of accurate or reliable information about what it means to be born transgender. But, they listened to their child and did as much research as they could. While the experience was shaking, their family emerged much happier and healthier, and with a wealth of knowledge, information, and understanding. Vlada remembers telling her husband that she could never picture making a film about the topic, feeling it was too personal and too close and that she could never do it justice.

In December 2015, Vlada’s friend and parent support group founder, Aidan Key, told her that dark times were coming–a wave of anti-transgender legislation was about to hit the country and their state. Aidan called Vlada because he was hoping she could document what was about to happen to the transgender community and their loved ones. Vlada realized the idea of making a film about transgender children was no longer optional. The fight was not about her, it was about fighting for the civil and human rights of an under-represented and vulnerable population of people. If she didn’t make the film, who would?

Vlada began filming that same month. Among other events, she filmed tense prejudicial Senate hearings for the anti-transgender bill SB 6443, the Superior Court hearings that covered the I-1515 ballot title change, Senate Town Hall meetings, and press events organized by the group sponsoring the bill. Vlada reflects that thankfully, there were also more pleasant and joyful moments to record, like the Snohomish School District meetings, as well as the gatherings and rallies involving their community of transgender rights activities and allies.

Vlada forced herself to take off her Mama Bear hat and put on her Filmmaker hat. It was important for her to tell the story as objectively and factually as possible, allowing both sides of the fight to speak for themselves and in their own words. She believes that representing the anti-transgender rights arguments would best serve the film’s audience when thinking through the issues for themselves. As difficult as it was, Vlada found that when defending a child’s rights, life, and future, as a parent, the reservoir of fortitude is limitless.

Host a One-Time Virtual Screening

Host a virtual, one-time educational screening of The Most Dangerous Year for your school as part of online transgender training for staff or as a part of a virtual transgender workshop. The Most Dangerous Year film and discussion guide may incorporate well into transgender lesson plans for teachers. Hosting an online, one-time educational screening along with your facilitated discussion is great for virtual transgender workshop activities.

Contact us to request a price quote to host a virtual, one-time educational screening of The Most Dangerous Year for your school.

Contact us to inquire about having the filmmaker do a Virtual Q&A after your online screening! Invite the filmmaker to your schools Zoom or Meet. Dependent upon availability for an additional fee.

Discussion Guide PDF

 Datasheet The Most Dangerous Year Host An Educational Screening Setup Guide.jpg

The Most Dangerous Year Educational Screening Discussion Guide includes a summary of the film, a letter from the filmmaker, and instructions for how to use the guide and the film. The guide also includes an overview of the Films Themes and sample discussion questions within each theme, as well as more background information and a glossary of key terms for the educator. Read the Film Story Timeline. Learn more about Some Key Elements of the Gender and Sexual Identity Spectrums. Access ideas for projects to tie-in and next-steps, as well as additional resources.

Datasheet PDF

Academic Entertainment will provide a web link, username, and password for limited/timed access of the film for a virtual/online educational screening on your screening date. Screening password will be useable for a limited time, single-use screening. Password will expire and is nonrenewable.

School is required to sign an educational screening agreement and a service agreement from Academic Entertainment.

School is required to ensure technological capability and internet connection for your virtual screening date.

Run time: 90 minutes
Set-up time: dependent upon your school
Tear-down time: dependent upon your school

In-person Screening Suggestions: Cover windows, skylights, and other sources of light. The darker the better, aiming for “cinema-like” darkness. Test and re-test your screening link, projection, and sound. Academic Entertainment is not responsible for technology glitches or malfunctions incurred by the school. Designate a volunteer to be responsible for turning off and on the lights and for ensuring the screening runs smoothly. Large screen projection from a computer with audio-enhancement into a PA system.

In-person Capacity: only limited by your venue size. Virtual Screening Capacity: 300 screens max recommended.

In-person Assembly Requirements:
Not open to the general public nor the media
The film may not be duplicated, recorded, sold, loaned, transferred, broadcast, or made available online or by any other means or to any other party besides the school on the screening date.

Academic Entertainment reserves the right to decline a virtual or in-person educational screening should we determine that such screening will result in hostile or negative reception of the film.

Educational Screening Agreement PDF


Discussion Guide PDF

There are four key concepts and themes in The Most Dangerous Year:

1. Politics/Legislation
2. Science/Research
3. Civil Rights
4. The Transgender Experience


In Washington State, legislation was introduced that would have made it legal to refuse transgender people access to bathrooms that align with their gender identity. While a series of Senate hearings and a vote defeated the bill, an anti-transgender lobbying group continued to fight for further initiatives. Just Want Privacy collected signatures and held press conferences and Q&A sessions for months, but ultimately ended up losing.

The Snohomish School Board worked to adopt a transgender-inclusive policy for their transgender students that included a series of community discussion and workshops for half-a-year before the school board voted unanimously in favor of adopting the policy.


The latest science and research about gender identity and the transgender experience is also highlighted and summarized in a way that is easy to understand and effortless to digest. You’ll hear all the latest research, get the key phrases defined, and not have to lift a finger in 90 minutes.

The Gender Spectrum is explained. Sex Chromosomes, Anatomy, Gender Expression, and Gender Identity are also separate and distinct topics and concepts, unpacked and explained. This isn’t about sexual orientation. Gender Identity and Expression occur in children much younger. Sexual Orientation is not on the radar until after children hit puberty. Children as young as two and three can identify for themselves their gender, and it’s not always based on their physical anatomy. Sexual Orientation or preference happens much, much later. Further research concludes that external genitalia does not predict a person’s gender identity, nor do their internal organs or sex chromosomes always determine their gender identity.

Being transgender is a trait that a person is born with and has no control over. Just like the color of their hair, or the color of their eyes or skin.

The Most Dangerous Year addresses the myths about the dangers of opening up gender-segregated bathrooms to transgender people. It’s a complete myth and fallacy and laws protect people from pedophiles and traffickers in bathrooms already! There is no evidence of a rise in predatory crimes in WA state or anywhere in the US.

Statistics show that transgender children and adults are at an extremely high risk of harassment and assault while using bathrooms that don’t match their gender expression or identity.

Civil Rights

The discussion of civil rights is highlighted. Just like other fights for civil rights in the past (Black people, people with disabilities), it has been determined that it’s unconstitutional to restrict a law-abiding citizens’ civil and human rights simply because of a physical difference over which they have no control.

Transgender people are at a higher risk of anxiety and depression, and suicide, when they are not included in a loving, stable and supportive environment. Rejection and transphobia can be devastating to transgender students.

This is a modern-day civil rights story.

The filmmaker captures the civil rights battle from the perspective of a small group of parents that came together to support and fight for their young transgender children. A parent in the film herself, Knowlton paints an intimate and moving portrait of her fight to protect her 5-year-old daughter from proposed laws inspired by ignorance and fear.

The film will show tension-filled Senate hearings, thought-provoking conversations with lawmakers, and enlightening research from leading scientists. The Most Dangerous Year captures the rich and complex battle of transgender civil rights. The film follows the story and outcome of anti-transgender legislation in Washington state in 2016 but also ties in these important themes and concepts to understand and tells the stories of families who accepted their children exactly as they are.

The film touches open acceptance, tolerance, and much more.

The Transgender Experience

The Most Dangerous Year also tells the stories of several families with transgender children, and how they reacted to and fought for the civil rights of their children in 2016. The Most Dangerous Year also shares a variety of experiences that trans kids have, and that they have in schools. An alarmingly high rate of transgender people report they avoid using public restrooms. Some even restrict their intake of liquids!


“Intensely personal…it makes its case effectively.” The New York Times

“Humble, yet deeply moving documentary…What makes “The Most Dangerous Year” so beautifully effective is its representation of these loving, proud families who choose to stand up for the humanity and humane treatment of their children — and the politicians who listen.”Los Angeles Times

“Movingly told…powerful documentary, which makes the valuable point that this is a civil rights issue…” The Hollywood Reporter