THE BLANK POINT—what is transsexualism?Study Guide

Xiao-Yen Wang, director of The Blank Point

During my first years in America I had an English teacher, beautiful and very tall but slightly masculine in figure. One day, as my classmates were chatting, I was told she had previously been a man—my teacher had had "sex-change" surgery five years before.

This was the first time I heard about transsexualism. I was stunned by the weirdness of the concept that a person could switch gender at will. But having gone abroad to experience new things, I wanted to be open to Western ideas. And I was fascinated… but too shy to ask, "Were you a man? How did you decide to become a woman?"

I retained that curiosity. I wanted to know how transsexuals think. I wanted to understand their psychological changes.

When we began making The Blank Point,it was plain that it's too easy to dismiss transsexuals as mutilated women or men. People often assume male-to-female transsexualism is about the "glamour concept" of womanhood—the pointed breasts, the laced-up buttocks. I wasn't interested in this carnival idea. I wasn't interested in the side acts: the pornography, the prostitution. I was trying to understand the more delicate and deeper aspects of transsexualism; the aspects that, in some way, we all have in common.

In making this study guide I asked the people who appeared in The Blank Point—as well as Laura, whose voice is heard but who declined to appear on camera—to add any thoughts to what they said or to point out disagreements they had with the narration.

Transsexualism, like everything else concerning the human psyche, is an area where very little is known for certain: an area in need of exploration. And the intent of this study guide is not to bombard the reader with givens.… I hope you will consider the issues of transsexualism, examine your own feelings on the subject and think for yourself.