IFFBoston Review: Trinidad

First, I’m an artist.
Second, I’m a surgeon.

–Dr. Marcie

In 2003, Dr. Marci Bowers left her family and thriving OB/GYN practice in Seattle to take over Dr. Stanley Biber’s genital reassignment surgery (GRS) practice in Trinidad, Colorodo, and a former coal mining town of 9,000. “Trinidad . . . for the transgender community became kind of a spiritual place and of course the sex change capital of the world,” said Dr. Marci Bowers. Marci is the first transgender woman to perform GRS.

It’s not gender reassignment surgery but genital reassignment. It’s aligning the genitals with the gender that’s always been in place,” explained Marci.

The medical aspect is unnecessary. Dr. Marci shows close-ups of hairy post-op reconstructed vaginas with clitoris, vulva and proper symmetry. It steers away from the true point of the film: understanding the people behind the surgical procedures. This isn’t a surgical show. All of a sudden I felt we were delving into the blood and gore of surgery. Bloody skin being stretched and stitched.

Trinidad would have maintained greater understanding for transgendered if the filmmakers, PJ Raval and Jay Hodges, keep their cameras on the characters instead of delving into the surgical suite.

The true beautiful aspects of the film are the moments it focuses on three different transgender women. There is Marci’s story, as well as that of Sabrina Marcus, an engineer and founder of the Southern Comfort Transgender Conference, and Dr. Laura Ellis, a family practitioner. Both women are working to establish a recovery bed-and-breakfast for post-operative transgender patients.

Sabrina is the most interesting woman of the three as she is honest and sincere about her decision. She came out as transsexual in her late teens to early 20s and started dressing as a woman but then met and married a woman, and had children. I adore her refreshing candor. She and her wife divorced though she still has parental and visitation rights of her teenage children who are very easy going and supportive.

Due to the fact that she was transitioning from a man to a woman, Sabrina lost her job as a shuttle engineer. She admits to her life’s dichotomy and complexity as she was living as “½ man, ½ woman.”

Sabrina adds: “You’re almost pushed into this environment where you’re either a boy or a girl. There really needs to be an allowance for someone who needs to be in the middle. I consider myself a transsexual woman.”

At one point she admits that she misses aspects of being a man and that few transgendered people would ever share that thought. That comment was really eye-opening to me. I would never think that after so many years of being trapped in the wrong body that someone would miss the old body.

Trinidad tries to be a film that opens up the audience’s eyes to the little know transgender community. The filmmakers have interviews with townspeople: some who do not understand the transgender community at all and a few more open minded people who say that whatever makes someone feel comfortable should be accepted. But it does seem that a line is drawn in the sand between the transgendered and many in the community. Trinidad is a film about tolerance, individuality and being oneself in one’s body and one’s own skin.

Sunday, April 26, 5:45, Somerville Theatre.


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