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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She
Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She
HBO // Unrated // October 17, 2006
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Lacey Worrell | posted November 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
The title of this documentary is quite appropriate, given the fact that its focus is on the often complicated middle ground that encompasses human sexuality. In recent decades, more open discussion about sexuality has paved the way for so-called "intersex" individuals – those who do not identify as one gender or another – to speak and seek acceptance.

The documentary does not just stop at a social perspective; it provides complex biological explanations as well by examining brain structures of various genders and intersex individuals. The disc begins with the absolutely tragic story of Gwen Arujo, who was born a male but later wanted to be known as female, with devastating consequences.

The producers should be commended for packing in a world of experience into the relatively short, 75-minute run time. A great deal of time is spent focusing on the bisexual, gay, and transgender experience in countries such as Thailand and India. Of particular interest are the "ladyboys" of Thailand, some of whom only dress as women, and others who have pursued surgical means to transform their physical appearance. They perform in lip-sync shows and appear to be relatively accepted, especially by the tourists who attend the lip-sync shows in droves. What is particularly sad are the anecdotes about the lives of people who were born in countries where their sexuality makes them pariahs.

One of the most interesting stories feature a lesbian couple who is raising a child, and one member of the couple, due to circumstances surrounding birth and childhood, decided to live life as a male. Although the transition was difficult, the relief he feels at finally finding himself is palpable. His girlfriend's support and unconditional love is touching.

Overall, the multicultural perspective of this film is quite helpful in underscoring one of many messages it conveys: People who fall into the intersex category may lead conventional lives or unconventional lives, just like anyone else. The interviewees' willingness to speak up and be heard, especially at the risk of their own lives, is commendable.

The DVD

Video:
The picture, presented in 4x3 full-screen, is just okay, which is the case with many documentaries. Sometimes the camera work is a little shaky, but over all it does not take away from the overall impact.



Sound:
Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with both English and Spanish language tracks, the sound quality is quite good. Narration is provided by the gravelly-voiced Gore Vidal, which lends an air of sophistication to the production. Because there are no special effects or scenes where the sound would be very noticeable, the best part of the sound quality is that it does not detract from the at times moving stories that are told. It does the job, and it does it well.

Extras:
There are no extras to speak of on this disc. It is a shame, because some updates on the various individuals featured on the documentary would have been interesting.

Final Thoughts:
This documentary will not appeal to everyone, based upon the subject matter, but it offers a fascinating look into a sub-culture that is alive and well all over the world. With a TV-MA rating, it is not for the kiddies, but from a purely academic, and at times emotional point of view, it is fascinating.

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