Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Same, But Different

With Lisa Marie and Hender

The Same, But Different is the title of a documentary by Lisa Marie Evans, which takes a look at the lives of four trans people from the American Midwest. Yesterday, Tuesday, 22 September 2009,it was shown at the UP Diliman Gender Office (UPDGO) as the closing activity of the 17th year anniversary celebrations of the first LGBT student organization in the UP System, UP Babaylan. The current chair of UP Babaylan, Ms. Hender Gercio invited me to come see the movie and it was a treat to meet the film maker who was also there. The three of us took a picture together after the movie ended (see pic above). The film showing was attended by students, staff of the UPDGO, and members of UP Babaylan.

The documentary itself is ordinary but it is the people in it that make it extraordinary. The movie features Jaron, a trans man who transitioned in his 40s. After identifying for a long time as a lesbian, he finally reconciles with the fact that he has always felt male. The same is true with Claven who also lived life as a lesbian before taking male hormones to masculinize himself. Claven is a self-identified fundamentalist Christian who is shown later in the film to have detransitioned or gone back to presenting as female ultimately following her religious beliefs. Then there is Pooch or Andrea, a Social Science professor, who presents as male on days marked blue and female on days marked pink in the calendar by his/her girlfriend. The last character is Nicole, a transsexual woman who is divorced from her wife but maintains a close relationship with their children.

All four people show the audience a slice of life as lived by a person of transgender experience. Jaron talks about his personal life, the difficulty of dating women and coming out to his parents. Claven discusses his religious leanings and his difficulty finding a church that would accept him. Pooch or Andrea talks about relationship, work, and being able to dress up as both a man and a woman. Nicole, on the other hand, begins by talking about how much she has spent on McDonald's working as a trucker, her work as a comic, and her relationship with her kids. All four allow the audience an intimate peak into the real lives they are living right in the heart of Middle America. The film shows us that as human beings with hopes, desires, aspirations and dreams, we are all different but ultimately the same. Our commonality is our humanity.

After the screening, Lisa gave out DVDs to audience members who mustered the courage to ask questions. I think she gave away around 5 DVDs in all. We also took more pictures together (see our pic below). After, it was time to say goodbye. Lisa will go to a place outside Manila next and on Saturday will fly back home to the US. It was truly a pleasure meeting her. I wish her all the best in her future artistic endeavors.

With Lisa Marie Evans

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