Draw With Me explores the deeply personal mental health struggles that Lopez's nibling, Brendon navigated in their experience coming out to loved ones.

By Arielle Tschinkel
August 24, 2020
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Jennifer Lopez has a new documentary rec for you — one that tells a story very close to her heart.

In a recent Instagram video, the performer shared a preview of Draw With Me, an upcoming short film about the coming-out story of Brendon Scholl, a transgender youth who happens to be J. Lo's nibling. ICYDK, nibling is a gender-neutral term used in place of niece or nephew to refer to the child of one's sibling. (Brendon is the child of J. Lo's sister, Leslie Ann.)

The short film tells Brendon's story from coming out as trans in eighth grade to their present-day life as a young adult, including the deeply personal struggles they've navigated along the way, and how their passion for art has helped them cope.

"The film is important and timely in its story and message and can have a huge impact on those of us who watch and experience what Brendon and their family are going through in this time of acceptance and admission," J. Lo says in her video introducing the film. (Refresher: What It Really Means to Be Gender Fluid Or Identify As Non-Binary)

The five-minute clip shows Brendon sharing what it was like to come out to friends, teachers, and family, including the daily challenges that came with being misgendered and misunderstood by nearly everyone in their life.

In one scene, Brendon opens up about the "lowest" point of their mental health, when they attempted suicide. "I had posted something online about how I didn't want to wake up in the morning," shared Brendon.

"That night, I remember being in my room and hearing something happening upstairs because [Brendon's] room is right above mine. I went upstairs and they said, 'I feel sick.' They were trying to throw up," recalled Brendon's mom, Leslie Ann. "I didn't know what was going on until the next day when we got a call from the counselor at school and they said, 'Is Brendon okay?' They had taken all these painkillers, and it finally hit me: Oh my God, my kid just tried to kill themselves."

Draw With Me touches on an all-too-familiar reality for LGBTQ+ youth — specifically trans children. Transgender youth report "significantly increased rates of depression, suicidality, and victimization compared to their cisgender peers," according to The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention support for young LGBTQ+ people. In 2018 alone, one in three transgender youth reported attempting suicide, nearly one-third reported being a victim of sexual violence, and more than half reported a two-week period of depression, according to stats from The Trevor Project. (Related: Why the LGBTQ+ Community Gets Worse Health Care Than Their Straight Peers)

While Brendon's coming-out experience certainly wasn't an easy one, they noted in the film how "lucky" they feel to have the support of their friends and family — including "Titi Jenn," who's shared other #superproudauntie moments celebrating Brendon on the 'Gram before (see: this adorable 2017 post from J. Lo gushing with pride about Brendon representing their school as a "global young leader").

"[Draw With Me is] a story that's very close to my heart because it was a family affair," J. Lo said in her recent Instagram video. "It's about accepting change and challenges with love and knowing that when we do, everything is possible." (Related: How Nicole Maines Is Paving the Way for the Next Generation of LGBTQ+ Youth)

Draw With Me is set to premiere at film festivals worldwide and via video on demand this fall.

If you're struggling with thoughts of suicide or have felt deeply distressed for a period of time, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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