Caught Between Two Identities The Documentary “Transformer” Tries To Find The Balance

Janae Kroczaleski

By William Engel

“Transformer” is a documentary following the life of Janae Kroczaleski (née Matt), a world champion weightlifter and bodybuilder who came out as a trans woman in 2015. The film chronicles her life leading up to that point, and her trials and tribulations as a person in the process of transitioning, caught between her two identities. (“I’m not comfortable as an extremely muscular woman, but as a man, that’s the only way I’m comfortable,” she remarks. “So what do I do?”)

The challenges that Kroczaleski faces as a trans woman run the gamut from universal to unique. Like any other transgender person, she has to deal with the uncertainty that the people in her life – her family, friends and employers – will accept her for who she is. On the other hand, she’s achieved international fame for her success in a field that’s traditionally masculine, and she has to determine whether accepting her identity as a woman will mean forsaking her identity as a champion strongman.

In fact, early on in the film it’s made clear that Janae’s desire to be female was something she always felt, and her pursuit of bodybuilding as a man was partially an attempt to suppress that desire. Her muscularity, as she put it, was a “safety blanket”.

Ultimately, she comes to terms with the fact that she’ll never truly find “balance” between the two sides of herself – and that’s okay. The fame and success she achieved as a male weightlifter was awe-inspiring, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices in order to truly be happy with ourselves.

For more information and to follow the documentary “Transformer”  go to



1h 18min | Documentary

Director: Michael Del Monte

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