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Germany's first transgender commander makes film debut

Rebecca Staudenmaier
November 21, 2019

The documentary film depicts the life of Anastasia Biefang as she transitions and takes command of a German military battalion. Biefang says she wanted to show "there are transgender people in the Bundeswehr, too."

Lieutenant Colonel Anastasia Biefang (r) speaks with a fellow soldier at the barracks in Stokow, Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Pleul

"I am Anastasia," a documentary film about the German military's first transgender commander premiered in theaters on Thursday.

The film follows Lieutenant Colonel Anastasia Biefang as she tells the story about how she came to realize she was transgender and came out to her colleagues at the height of her career when she was 40 years old.

It also depicts the reactions within the Bundeswehr when she took command of the information technology battalion in the eastern town of Storkow in 2017 after she transitioned.

"I decided to immerse myself unbiased [in the battalion] and decided that everyone was unbiased towards me too," she says in the film's trailer.

Read more: Transgender troops — how open is Germany's army?

Anastasia Biefang
'Everyone has an opinion about me without knowing me,' Biefang said in an interview ahead of the film premierImage: Imago Images/H. Galuschka

'Wow! They're just a person'

In an interview on German public broadcaster ARD's political TV talkshow Maischberger on Wednesday ahead of the premier, Biefang described the moment she came out to her colleagues at a regular briefing meeting.

"Yes my hair is going to get a bit longer over the next few months," Biefang recalled saying.

To her surprise, the decision to come out to her colleagues in the German military did not have a negative impact on her career — but she notes that it took time for the around 700 soldiers under her command to get to know her.

Most of the prejudices broke down when people in the battalion realized: "Wow! They're just a person," she said.

"I deliberately chose to become visible with the subject. I wanted to pull my head out of the sand and say: 'Hey, there are transgender people in the Bundeswehr, too,'" Biefang said.

"I am Anastasia" opened in theaters across Germany on November 21, with showings in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden and Leipzig.

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