Starting today, the fourth season of FUTURESTATES — public media’s #1 online series of independently-produced, socially conscious, science fiction short films — debuts a new futuristic episode from seven cutting-edge indie filmmakers every Wednesday, kicking off with today’s Elliot King is Third. In 2024, gender is identified by microchip implant, and trans people like Elliot are classified “third.” But can he change his identity in an attempt to build a safer life?

Director Rose Troche gave us this inside look at the inspiration behind the short film, which is currently streaming on futurestates.tvPBS Video, and the PBS iPhone/iPad app:

The conversation of Elliot King began a long while back. I would say that the seed of this idea was formed over time and various places/events. Things like involvement in LGBTQ activism, casual conversations with friends over dinner, witnessing the changing political landscape of America – these were all important in the development of this story and the character of Elliot King.

We’re fortunate enough to live in a time and place where identity doesn’t stop at male or female and that gender and sexual identity is fluid across a large spectrum. That being said, how does one reconcile the difference between self-identification and when a government defines it for you? I’ve never believed in outing someone. It’s something that should happen when a person is ready.

Elliot King began as a question of giving other people the power to make those choices for you and the consequences of that. This film is an exploration of how pressure and time can be extremely transformative powers in a modern society.

In the script, Prop 98 begins as a protective law for trans people but quickly becomes the main form of discrimination for them. We were also interested in the idea of a hero and the acts that define heroism.

Through this story, I wanted to portray that living an authentic life can be a form of courage and heroism. It takes strength to live a life that is outside of mainstream society. Most of the time it is a silent struggle, lonely, and demands a force of character and sacrifice that many will not understand. It is, ultimately, worth it.

Read more about the making of Elliot King is Third on the FUTURESTATES website.