The Human Impact

Do gender and sexuality really matter anymore?

Contestants wait for the start of the annual race on high heels during Gay Pride celebrations in the quarter of Chueca in Madrid

Contestants wait for the start of the annual race on high heels during Gay Pride celebrations in the quarter of Chueca in Madrid

When I sat down with directors Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini to discuss “Mala Mala,” their documentary which premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, I took out my laptop and went over my questions one more time, as I always do.

It turns out I didn’t really need them, as the interview quickly turned into a striking conversation about gender and its many nuances, love and how we perceive ourselves.

Santini and Sickles decided to make what would have become “Mala Mala”- a raw and honest film about the trans community in Puerto Rico – after a trip to Austin, Texas, where they met a drag queen named Maggie McMuffins. The two filmmakers loved her performance and met with her the following day when Maggie told them she was married and had a daughter–and that she had just started transitioning from male to female.

“Three months into her transition, she was completely and utterly open with us about (it). Antonio and I didn’t know about gender… we’re not experts in that sense,” Sickles told me as we sipped sodas in a film studio in lower Manhattan.

Bullied, ridiculed, ignored, Asia transgenders step up fight for rights

Natt Kraipet grew up knowing she was a woman in a man’s body. She didn’t like wearing the compulsory school uniform for boys in Thailand and spent her school days being bullied by her peers.

“When students are put into groups according to gender, the boys would yell at me to join the girls. I was sexually harassed – they touched my legs, bottom or face or hit me on my back or head,” she said.

“I couldn’t really tell my teachers or my parents because I was afraid of being judged and punished. Sometimes I felt bullied by the teachers themselves because they would say it was just teasing among the children. It wasn’t teasing,” recalled Natt, now a coordinator with the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN).

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