Fri, Feb 16
TEDDY goes transsexual
Guest Column by Björn Seidel-Dreffke
In contrast to “TEDDY goes to Russia,“ Arabia, or China “TEDDY goes transsexuell,“ is likely to produce rather an unclear image. Most people will probably imagine men wearing women’s cloth at first, androgynous people who are neither one thing nor the other. But, one thing is for sure, whatever they are, they will be different. Nonetheless, this year`s TEDDY proves that after the gay and lesbian emancipation now and finally the emancipation of transsexuals that began back in the 1990s appears more and more in the public eye with a serious agenda. In the early 1990s, self- confidence and support groups were built, nowadays, for example here in Berlin, a broad web has established itself, that educates people about transgender issues. This represents the wide variety of the savoir vivre and special self assurance. However, the consciousness about the “how and why” is even underdeveloped in the queer community.
In this context one might take a look at Berlinale-film “Schau mir in die Augen Kleiner“ (RE: André Schäfer). The film draws a compact and informative portrait of the history of gay and transgendered film. The rather hesitant approach to seriously refurbishing this way of life is looked at, as well as the increasing interest of filmmakers and the growing number of important films in this section. It appears you can’t work without outdated cliché. The commentator banishes the idea that nowadays male transsexuals do not undergo surgeries, because homosexuality is increasingly accepted in today’s society. But equating TS-women with gay men who have still not come out is prejudice that is not realistic or true with any type of sexual orientations.
Even though it is (jet!) scarcely documented (persons concerned oftentimes conceal their sexual orientation), it is a fact, and who knows the gay scene knows this as well: A significant percentage of MF transsexuals prefer women and they continue to date women after the surgery, which makes them something called “new lesbians“.
Other categories exist within the transgendered community, women who turn into men because their souls always felt male. There is an unknown phenomenon that a certain percentage of these “new men” live their lives as gay men (including the author of this column). And, it does not matter if they were lesbian or heterosexual before. In autumn 2006 “Transinterqueer“(Berlin) gathered 20 gay “transmen” (female to men) at a conference to share their difficult experiences of being accepted. They didn’t only relate to the so-called “normal society” and even for some gay men it remains a shock to be confronted with a “gay transman”. The necessity to explain one’s self and an unstable self-definition can suffocate possible relationships comprised of more than just sex.
Also in this respect TEDDY is on the cutting edge, it opens new horizons and crosses borders (also within itself). Among the queer Berlinale films relating to this topic, “Dasepo Sonyeo“(RE: E. J-Yong) is particularly a remarkable film. The South Korean filmmaker succeeds in looking at the problem from a different perspective, in part humorous but also serious, and inserting the typical way of thinking while viewing “how things are” in the East. In a fictional school, there is a pupil with only one eye. As if this pupil didn’t have enough to deal with this is a girl above the belly und a boy below.
For her to find love from one of her classmates seems impossible, although she remains self-confident and this doesn’t result in her being overly dramatic. Another girl in the class makes friends with a transvestite; both are being kidnapped into the under world, where everybody can be as he or she pleases. The principal turns out to be also a male to female transgendered person, who lives as a magician whom can turn herself from time to time into a dragon. In this film, one of the many archaic ideas of a magician is that a magician must consist of male and female attributes to have mythological dimensions and powers.
The first reactions to this film were (in general) typical for films dealing with transsexuality. One may perceive these types of films as: something that is off-centered, dazzling, freaky or weird, something to smile at without getting the deeper and tragic meaning underneath the polished surface. If one looks a little closer at the cultural history of many different countries and cultures, one will find the indication of transsexual topics throughout the epoches. When researching Russian philosophy at the turn of the century, the author was not astonished to find in the book of the intellectual thinker W. Rosanow (“Menschen des Mondlichts“, 1911) showing romantic feelings and thoughts of a transsexual woman. He cited her biography and referred to homosexuality as an unclear sex and gave his opinion to the wish to change ones own sex, which at that time was pretty tolerant.