Andrea James

Review: Middle Sexes

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Gender studies

Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She

HBO

Premieres December 6

If you’re finding it hard to sort out current thinking about gender,Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She should prove enlightening. Directed by Anthony Thomas and narrated by Gore Vidal, the new documentary tells different but complementary stories, framed by the tragic killing of transgender Gwen Araujo. The film sheds light on her murder via a scientific study suggesting that homophobes are aroused by that which they claim to despise.

Beyond the headlines we meet Noah, an eight-year-old boy who fully identifies as a girl; Max Beck, a man whose ambiguous genitalia led to his being raised as female; the Hijras of India, transgenders who are quite socially accepted among that country’s Hindu population; and showgirls of Thailand, transvestites and transgenders whom tourists flock to see.

The point of all this? In nature “variation is the norm,” says sexology Prof. Milton Diamond. “Biology loves difference. Society hates it.” –David Ehrenstein

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