The Aggressives

Trans, American Culture, LGBT
Daniel Peddle
73 minutes


*Official Selection SXSW Film Festival

"A novel, accomplished documentary." -New York Times

"Crisp, concise, intimate." -Variety


A favorite of the film festival circuit, The Aggressives is an insightful look at the little explored, yet highly dramatic subculture of lesbian butches as well as their "femme" counterparts who tow the line between gender definitions. This fascinating documentary features intimate and revealing interviews with six aggressives.

In The Film

MARQUISE embodies the look of an urban "homeboy". He straps his chest flat with duct-tape, bites his teeth to develop a stronger jaw-line and speaks in a deep low voice. To better his life, Marquise enlists in the US Army. On the eve of his departure, he candidly speaks of how he will deal with suddenly and ironically being forced to live as a woman. We visit him at boot camp to learn of his unusual experience.

KISHA is a beautiful Latina who was discovered by a fashion photographer while working as a messenger. She does not identify as male and in spite of her "aggressiveness" and androgyny, she tries to succeed as a model. The film documents her radical transformation from the street to the runway and its dizzying effect on her sense of self.

FLO stands out as the lone Asian in a scene dominated by African-American and Latina lesbians. He is heavily influenced by the inner city. "I'm just like a nigga...a special kind of man," he explains. Flo has a passion for Black girls because "they got the body" and often is a judge at balls for such categories as "Model Body". Urged by rowdy crowds of women, we see normally shy girls strip proudly for Flo.

RJAI appeared on a talk-show as a "lesbian stud" and sparked a veritable flood of interest from girls curious about sex with a butch. Rjai shies from "thug" posturing and instead adopts the look of a "white-collar" male. As a competitor in balls, he has walked and won every imaginable category. We see him preparing, competing, and with a steady stream of girlfriends.

OCTAVIA just got out of prison. As an Aggressive, Octavia is the most raw and uninhibited but does not go by the male pronoun. We see her before arrest, and speak with her mother, who still considers Octavia's sexual nature as "a phase". We interview Octavia in prison where she describes how to make a contraband dildo and that lesbian sex with an inmate is considered "tampering with State property." Nevertheless she is courted by all manner of females. Upon release we see her turn her life around.

TIFFANY has grown up in NYC's West Village and is a pioneer in a new realm of gender and sexual identity. "I'm not a lesbian if I date transgender women and have straight sex with them." Tiffany delights in the irony of blurring labels. We see Tiffany "vogue", gossips, sells drugs, and cruise the streets of downtown NYC and Philadelphia looking for love.



Daniel Peddle

Daniel Peddle's debut feature documentary film, The Aggressives, is considered an important and penetrating work on gender identity in the modern world. It was awarded the Alfred C. Kinsey Honor from the Kinsey Institute in 2006 and has won numerous "Best of" awards at documentary film festivals worldwide. Powerhouse Books published Peddle's written expose on the Aggressive subculture in the book Transculturalism in 2005. The film was embraced by its subjects and continues to engage audiences screening on LOGO, Viacom's channel geared towards the LGBT community.

Peddle spent his childhood in the woods of rural North Carolina. He graduated with honors in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended graduate film school at New York University. He has lived in New York City since 1992.

He is the founder of Daniel Peddle Casting a company that specializes in casting models for fashion with an international clientele including such companies as Conde Nast and the LVMH group. Peddle is represented as an artist by Envoy Gallery in NY. His wordless book, Snowday, was published in 2000 by Doubleday.

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