Bil Browning

Red Without Blue: Identical twins and gender identity

Filed By Bil Browning | July 29, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: family problems, identical twins, Red Without Blue, transgender, transitioning

Thanks to Projector Sky for sending in the link to the documentary Red Without Blue. I haven't made it all the way through the movie yet (it's still playing on my computer) but I knew it was an automatic "OMG I gotta share this with the readers" kinda flick. The movie is simply fascinating.

RED WITHOUT BLUE is an artistic and groundbreaking portrayal of gender, identity, and the unswerving bond of twinship despite transformation. An honest portrayal of a family in turmoil, RED WITHOUT BLUE follows a pair of identical twins as one transitions from male to female. Captured over a period of three years, the film documents the twins and their parents, examining the Farley's struggle to redefine their family. The twins' early lives were quintessentially all-American: picture-perfect holidays, supportive parents who cheered them on every step of the way. By the time they were 14, their parents had divorced, they had come out as gay, and a joint suicide attempt precipitated a forced separation of Mark and Alex for two and half years. RedWithoutBlue.jpgThrough candid and extensive interviews with the twins and their family, RED WITHOUT BLUE recounts these troubled times, interweaving the twins' difficult past with their efforts to find themselves in the present.

One of the most interesting things I heard in the movie came from the trans twin, Claire. She said, "Gender is the one very specific thing that we can hold on to. Everything changes in life except for that. And to see someone challenges something so basic, it's like blasphemy." I'd never thought of transitioning in that way - gender as an anchor in most people's lives - and it's a real eye-opener.

Full 77 minute documentary after the jump.


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This film has been around for ages...

I just watched it and found it interesting.

I'm astonished by the extent of the mother's denial about just about every area of her life. But it seems like her mother brought her up to simply shove aside anything that didn't fit the world she wanted.

All in all, it's all pretty sad. But I hope the twins get through it.

No, I have not yet had the opportunity to see the film, work being the time and energy consumer that it is, but find a certain resonance in this thought:

The Anchor.

In my transition, now complete, I always found the thought of moving to be so strange; I have always been here.

My sex has always been the one constant in my life, though, obviously, my expression of it--my gender--has changed quite dramatically in recent years. People might well be confused into thinking the only thing of note in my life has been the change of gender.

And well they might.

Though, for me, it has been the removal of dissonance between my deep knowledge of who I am and the accident of my birth.

In the beginning I expect to most I appeared like a crossdresser--certainly I expect that is what my former employer thought when coworkers informed her they had seen me in a dress in public.

Teaching in a piano school, with many child students, this raised a concern for her--and lead to my termination as some kind of moral threat.

Not that crossdressers are any more of a moral threat than transsexuals, though my transition was following medical advice and care--and diagnosis.


Appearances can be deceiving. We are just different.

Sex is felt to be nothing more than gender--always already gender as Butler puts it.

But it isn't.

To constantly reduce the lives of transsexual people to gender, as if hormones and surgery are somehow nothing more than a dress (since we seem not to make such concerned references to female to male transsexuals) is to force what is a square peg into a round hole.

And it justifies our exclusion.

Estrogen, as I have always understood it, is a sex--not gender--hormone. As is testosterone. They affect the secondary sexual characteristics, not secondary gender characteristics. And SRS applies to, again what I have always been taught, the primary sexual characteristic--though I'm sure many will call that the primary gender characteristic in the most routine, and invisible, category error.

On the way doing damage to a clear minority under the transgender umbrella. Included against our wishes.

But then, this is the model we live in--the erasure of minorities--have learned from the society at large and the gay rights movement itself: issues will be simplified so those who have no experience might seem to understand.

No matter what the cost.

Appearances can be deceiving.

I rented this from Netflix a couple of years ago and thought it was nicely done. Thanks for the link, will have to watch it again sometime.