Gender Trouble

In this thought-provoking film, Melissa, Mary, Barbara and Sara speak openly for the first time about the secrecy surrounding their intersex conditions and lives.

Their unmediated testimony allows an engagement with their personal narratives without the validation or intervention of clinicians or journalists. Structured thus to avoid the tropes of the traditional science or medical documentary, as the film progresses both individuals and society are implicated as we view ourselves through their meditations on gender and femininity. The film critically questions society’s binary construction of gender and our understanding of what is considered the norm.

The four women are positioned against continuously morphing images of family photographs, orchids and formal gardens. These images are perpetually moving and changing thus creating a dynamic rhythm to the film: restless and unstable. This juxtaposition of landscape and personal narrative creates a dialogue between exteriority and interiority that reflects the conflicts both society and subject face when considering the complexities of gender.

Gender Trouble raises many complex emotions and issues that go beyond the physiological conditions of intersex or hermaphrodism (gender, chromosomes, sex). The film raises questions about gender and identity; medical and social labeling of people; power relationships between patients and doctors (and parents and children); and the potential impact of narrative, emotion and image in medical science. For Mortimer it was the emotional terrain of secrecy that led her to make the film. Gender Trouble addresses the ‘hidden’, that which lies beneath the surface in our lives and society.

Gender Trouble has been shown extensively to medical practitioners and allows rare insight for clinicians into patient’s lives, and provides a different perspective on the current debate on early genital surgery. It was standard practice up until the 1990s to withhold medical results from intersex patients. GENDER TROUBLE shows how knowledge can be empowering for patients. Dr Cathy Minto

Screenings & Comment

Screenings

Science on Stage and Screen Symposium, Liverpool Biennale. September 2002. Premiere
Wellcome Trust London preview screening. December 2002
British Film Festival Israel (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Sderot). 2003
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Greece. 2003
Chicago Documentary Film Festival, USA. 2003
Films des Femmes. International Festival of Women Directors, France. 2003
London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, National Film Theatre, UK. 2003
River Run Film Festival, North Carolina, USA. 2003
Pink Screens Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium. 2003
Milan International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Italy. 2003
Frameline, San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, USA. 2003
Provincetown International Film Festival, MA, USA. 2003
Budapest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hungary. 2003
North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, USA. 2003
ImageOut: The Rochester Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, New York, USA. 2003
LARZISH – Tremours of Revolution, International Film Festival of Gender and Sexual Plurality, Bombay, Pune and Delhi, India. 2003
Turku G & L Film Festival, Turkuu and Helsinki, Finland. 2003
Paris Lesbian Film Festival, France. 2003
Kasseler Documentary Film Festival, Germany. 2003
Intersex conference. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, UK. 2004
World Social Forum, Mumbai, India. 2004
Out At The Movies Film Festival, New York, USA. 2004
Toronto Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Canada. 2004
Adelaide Feast Festival, Australia. 2004
101 Intersex, New Society of Visual Arts (NGBK), Berlin.  June – July 2005 www.101intersex.de
International Women & Health Film Festival, New Delhi, India. 2005
Question de Genre cultural festival, Lille, France. 2005
Filmbar, Hildesheim, Germany. 2005
Ladyfest Nuernberg, Germany. 2005
PSBT International Festival on Gender and Sexuality, New Delhi, India. 2005
Madurai Film Festival, India. 2007
Persistence Resistance: a festival of contemporary political films 2008
Magic Lantern Foundation & India International Centre, New Delhi, India. 2008
Chromosome 2008:Gender Under the Lens, Delhi, India. 2008
Persistence Resistance: a festival of contemporary political films 2009. Film and Television Centre of India in Pune and Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai, India.

Copies are held in the following hospital and university departments:

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Childrens Hospital. Melbourne, Australia
Department of Child Health, Yorkhill NHS Trust, Glasgow
Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, Paediatric Outreach Dept. UK
Erasmus MC. University Hospital Centrum Rotterdam, Netherlands
University of Tübingen, Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities, Germany
Addenbrookes NHS Trust, Cambridge, UK
University of Wales College of Medicine, Dept. of Child Health, Cardiff
Birmingham Childrens Hospital, UK
Divisione di Neonatologia, University of Pisa, Italy
Middlesex Hospital Intersex Clinic, London, UK
Lafayette College Library, Easton, PA, USA
Eastern Illinois University, USA
Purdue University, IN, USA
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, MA, USA
Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
BASRT, Bristol, UK
Southampton General Hospital, Institute of Child Health, UK
Lancaster University, UK
Australian National University, Canberra
Fisher Library, University of Sydney, Austrailia
Magic Lantern Foundation, New Delhi, India

Publications:

Talking Back to Science: Art, Science and the Personal.
Pub. The Wellcome Trust. ISBN 1 841290 52 1

1-0-1 [one ‘o one] intersex. Das Zwei-Geschlechter-System als Menschenrechtsverletzung
published by NGBK, New Society for Visual Arts, Berlin. ISBN 3 926796 95 2

  • welcome-3