Jack and Vaya is a very personal story brought to the screen by a small, woman-run production company based in Boston, MA. In fact the city is is where their story starts . Jack lives there now with his cute dog Plinko and it is where he works as a kindergarten teacher.
He actually grew up in a small working class town in South Jersey and when his was three years old, his life changed dramatically when a new family moved into the house next door. Yaya was just a year younger and she and Jack embarked on a friendship that is still going strong some 30 years later.
They both had a rather motley crew as a family, and they spent their childhoods together building forts, or burning trash cans , or anything mischievous they could get up too. What really bonded them however was they simple fact that they could see each other how they truly were. Jack (christened Jacquline) and Yaya aka Christine (christened Christopher) knew then that they would both eventually transition, even though the rest of the world was totally unaware of how they felt.
Decades later Jack and Yaya are now both in different stages of their transitioning : Jack is about to undergo a hysterectomy, and Yaya is struggling to get her new name legally registered. Both of them are very fortunate that even if their extended families may have been slow to get onboard in the beginning, they are all very supportive of the two of them now.
Directors Jen Bagley and Mary Hewey follow the couple for year including Jack’s trips home to celebrate holidays, and even when he and Yaya go to visit his divorced mother in Florida. The bond between them is so remarkable and they are an inseparable pair capable of reading each other’s minds. It’s based on this unshakable friendship, but the support they give each other for their transitioning is something that anyone doing this on their own would love, and deserve.
Yaya is frank about not being able to afford all her drugs as her waitress pay has to stretch to take care of her grandmother since her mother passed. Jack on the other hand has her ear so he can share his own worries about his upcoming surgery.
It’s a unique friendship that continues to grow as they do as people and this very unassuming film that neatly uses a wealth of archival footage, shows that this really is the most perfect case of soulmates we have seen for a very long time.
Any movie like Jack & Yaya that makes a contribution to the continuing dialogue about transgender community deserves to find the widest possible audience to help us all understand more.