Author Rene Jax knew she was living in the wrong body as a young boy. By the time she hit her thirties, she decided to undergo an operation to become a woman. She's regretted that decision every day since. Her story, and others like it, populate the probing documentary I Want My Sex Back.
Gender transition is a hot button issue in our modern era. As the public consciousness of this issue grows, more and more people feel the freedom to express dissatisfaction with their birth sex, and they finally have the means to do something about it. As a result, transgender reassignment surgery is performed more frequently and with greater efficiency than ever before.
For Rene, who had suffered a bleak and confused childhood she could never shake, the hormone therapies and eventual surgery did nothing to quell her inner demons. The same is true of Billy, an athletic ex-NASA employee, who suffered sexual abuse as a youngster. Billy underwent an operation to become a female, and then transitioned back after finding greater despair following his monumental decision.
Walt, an older man who found a passion for cross-dressing as a child, first started hormone therapy back in the 1980s. He is now an outspoken objector of transitional surgery. In his view, this impulse results from mental illness, and must be treated through thoughtful psychotherapy instead of a surgeon's scalpel. The other two subjects of the film echo his sentiments. A devout Christian, Walt now counsels others who feel confused about their gender identity.
All three subjects in the film have led lives of anguish filled with taunts, self-hatred, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, violence. Today, each of them share a clarity about the ramifications of their transitions. Happily, they seem to have reached a period of relative peace and self-acceptance in their lives.
I Want My Sex Back only examines one side of this issue; it's likely that the producers could have found many others who claim to be content with their decision to transition. But the perspectives presented in the film are sincere, thought-provoking and important to consider.
Directed by: Mikhail Barynin