BLANK POINTwhat is transsexualism?
October 1, 1992
The Blank Point presents an honest look at transsexualism through the eyes and lives of two transsexuals (one male to female, one female to male). Using mostly their interviews, the program examines in a thoughtful way the physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual aspects of becoming a transsexual. It also looks at the years-long process of preparation for the actual surgery and includes comments from doctors and counselors to help the audience understand the often-confusing issues of why people would be attracted to this life style. The interviews with the transsexuals, counselors, and doctors are extremely sensitive and candid particularly when discussing the medical procedure itself. The narration is excellent yet sparse, the music is used sparingly and with great effect, and the overall program is informative as it sheds light on this often misunderstood phenomenon. Winner of several awards, this is highly recommended for adult audiences.
Bill Howie, Southern Methodist University, Dallas
BOOKS & FILMS
This video takes an open-minded, noncritical approach to learning about transsexualism. The main focus is on the personal experiences of several individuals who have undergone, or are in the process of, gender reassignment. These individuals discuss quite candidly their previous personal and interpersonal difficulties and the advantages of their physical change, as well as the harsh realities associated with this change (i.e., losing the support of some family members and friends). Although a psychotherapist discusses the mental health community's and her view of transsexualism and the therapist's role in facilitating the gender reassignment process, the general atmosphere of the film is not overwrought with medical or biological terminology; there are no scenes of the surgery nor are there any "before" and "after" anatomy presentations. The director wisely chooses to contrast transsexualism and transvestitism, two terms that are interchanged commonly and in error. Overall, this low-budget film is neatly and tastefully done. The director succeeds in avoiding any sensationalistic presentations or graphic scenes. Given the lack of nudity and its nontechnical approach, this 57-minute video is appropriate for the advanced high school or undergraduate classroom, as well as for a general television audience. The Blank Point: What Is Transsexualism? may also be useful as an aid to sensitize therapists in training, as well as current therapists, to issues surrounding gender reassignment, but not as a guide in dealing with such clients.
Mary H. Kosmidis and Bryan D. Fantie, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD
AFVA Evaluations 1992
Synopsis: This documentary focuses on two male-to-female transsexuals and one female-to-male transsexual who talk about their psychological and physical changes during their transition. They also discuss adjusting to a new identity, about family and societal rejection, their sexuality, hopes and feelings.
Jury Comments: This film has the quality of being emotionally touching to its viewers. Applying an interesting structure to an engaging subject, this film is both fascinating and educational. The live interviews are extremely informative, which compensate for the slow and sometimes opinionated narration. This film offers unusual perspectives on human relationships and is useful for studies of human sexuality as well as society and culture.
Uses: For audiences seeking resources on human sexuality and transsexualism.
Awards: Blue RibbonAmerican Film & Video Festival
AFVA Category: 34: Human Sexuality
Subject Areas: Human Sexuality; Transsexualism; Sexual behavior.
OF GENDER STUDIES
Vol. XVII 1995
This is a sensitive documentary about the world of the transsexual. The directors have carefully orchestrated the path of the film to portray with clarity the lives of three people who chose a gender journey that would lead to sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and their respective lifestyles thereafter.
Richard is a postoperative female-to-male transsexual. He is articulate and comfortable with himself as he traces some of his past with the viewing audience. Sarah is a postoperative male-to-female transsexual. She is also comfortable, candid, and articulate in sharing important segments of her gender journey with viewers. Patricia is a preoperative male-to-female transsexual. She is 54 years old and engaged in the real life test (see HBIGDA Standards of Care) as a woman in transition prior to having SRS.
Each principal in the film contributes much personal and emotional information about their respective gender journeys. The viewer can appreciate the gleam in Richard's eye as he talks about his daughter from a prior relationship. One is brought to tears as Sarah relates how she communicated her gender dilemma to a southern European cultural family where she (then he) was the oldest of eight children. The strain on Patricia and her spouse is evident as they try to share the changing lifestyle of the former with their children.
The camera action is well planned, with good, positive close-ups when appropriate, and esthetic and pleasing in the generalized shoots and scenes (it was filmed for the most part in the bay area of San Francisco). The directors not only studied good cinematographic arts but also read assiduously on the subject. One technical novelty used was to take slide shots with four people displaying diversity in gender images both as men and women.
The film also contains some good interviews with a psychotherapist who works with the trans population, a plastic surgeon who specializes in surgical procedures that are of direct interest to many FTM folks, and a surgeon who specializes in the vaginoplasty for MTF folks. Following each interview segment there is relevant commentary by the narrator/director or the principals.
In summary, The Blank Point is an excellent introduction into the personal worlds of the transsexual of the 1990s. This reviewer would recommend it to all clinicians who work with the transsexual population and to all trans people who are contemplating this path for their gender journey.
Reviewed by Ari Kane.
Ari Kane is a gender specialist at Theseus Counseling Services,
Executive Director of the Outreach Institute,
and Editor of the Journal of Gender Studies.
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