We Are Transgenders | Chicago Reader

We Are Transgenders

Lulu Ogawa's fascinating 1998 video documentary depicts a wide cross-section of Japanese transgendered people, from drag queens to FTMs to intersex activists to male transvestites. They tell familiar stories of exclusion and abuse while growing up, discuss the need for safe spaces where they can express their complex identities, and reveal the cost of black-market hormones and the physical pain of sex-reassignment surgery. They talk about the difficulty of finding employment outside drag bars and the problem of marrying in a country where one's “family registration” can't be changed to conform to a new gender identity. Ogawa deftly juxtaposes politics and pleasure: the founder of the “Fake Ladies” club for male transvestites talks about the importance of working with other marginalized groups to change Japanese culture, all during a trip to a hot springs spa. Perhaps the most challenging segment deals with a love match between a drag queen and a self-described stone butch, who agreed to marry only if her dyke partner would carry their baby. 78 min.

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