16 02 2010

I recently saw what is probably one of the finest films ever made with an intersexed person as the protagonist. XXY – an Argentinian film set in Uruguay, is the story of a young girl – Alex, 15. She is born with atypical genitalia and has both breasts as well as a penis. The story revolves around her decision not to continue with hormone therapy. She is wonderfully androgynous as she moves through the film, surrounded by a group of friends and family living in a small windswept coastal town.

The adults are petty and judgemental. The children, who are discovering themselves sexually, come across as flexible young people who come to terms with their identities in a more mature way than their adult counterparts. It’s a film worth seeing, not just for the performances by Alex and her father but for the realistic way in which the whole issue of being born intersexed is dealt with by the surrounding characters: her mother who wants to get her gender reassignment surgery, her father who thinks she is perfect just that way she is, a surgeon who comes to inspect her and a group of boys who use violence to force her to show them her penis.

In the end Alex triumphs. I left the theatre knowing she would decide to continue to develop as a boy even though she was brought up a girl and that her parents chose wisely by not attempting to surgically reconstruct her gender at birth or even at 15. In the end, that choice was left to the individual. The decision for genital “normalizing” surgery would be suspended until she was an adult and could decide for herself….

Made in Argentina
Written and directed by Lucía Puenzo.
Starring Ricardo Darín, Valeria Bertuccelli, Inés Efron and Martín Piroyansky.

XXY has received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Critics’ Week grand prize at the 2007 Cannes film festival, as well as the ACID/CCAS Support Award. It was nominated for eight awards at the 2008 Argentine Film Critics Association Awards, winning three of these awards including Best Film, and was nominated or won awards at a number of other foreign film festivals. It was chosen to close the 2008 Melbourne Queer Film Festival. It is distributed within the UK by Peccadillo Pictures and had a short run theatrical release before being released onto DVD.

The film’s title is a reference to Klinefelter’s syndrome, also known as XXY syndrome, a condition in which males have an extra X sex chromosome. However, the main character does not display Klinefelter’s syndrome.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The perfect vagina

16 11 2009


“Consultant gynaecologist Sarah Creighton and psychologist Lih-Mei Liao challenged the ethics of offering women surgery to address such insecurities, suggesting it was adverts for a “homogenised, pre-pubescent genital appearance” which created these anxieties in the first place.”

Why can’t we celebrate our differences without trying to be homogeneous and similar? People are made differently, we are not all the same colour, the same height, the same weight or size, so of course other parts of our bodies are not going to be the same either! That seems to me to be a basic fact of life.

All men experience anxiety over penis size. Women agonise about breast sizes. But the truth is that we are each different and beautiful in our own way, with big breasts or not!

An alteration to improve the perceived look of a person’s genitalia whether male or female, is not only a complete a waste of money and time but also a futile attempt to achieve an ideal. Who decides what’s ‘beautiful’ anyway? The advertising agencies? The media? Or their close cousin, the fashion industry? And what does that make us – Stepford Wives?

How uninteresting and uninspiring this world would be if we all looked alike!