It’s 1929, Virginia Woolf publishes her famous extended feminist essay, called “A Room of
One’s Own,” exploring the gender disparity between women and men. Fast forward to 2016 and discussion around gender politics has widened to include people living beyond the male/female binary.
Cyn Lubow’s documentary film A Womb of Their Own asks the question, “What can a diverse group of masculine pregnant people teach the world about gender?”
The answer is worth watching as we enter the homes, hearts and relationships of this brave bunch.
Identifying as masculine, and giving birth to two sons, Lubow wonders, “What does that make me?” and offers that her body’s experience of pregnancy was not a gender thing. The California psychotherapist turned filmmaker decides to explore her ideas further through a series of interviews with others. The people Lubow introduces us to are as interesting and diverse as nature.
Meet Rae Goodman, the high school biology teacher, whose students accept that both men and women can have beards. Some people in public places react differently, seeing, “beard, tits, confusion.” Add 34 weeks of pregnancy to the reality of this visual and the lines of gender binary are anything but straight. Kerrick, a museum science educator and Rae’s husband, identifies as a trans man who is attracted to people rather than gender.
Lorenzo Ramirez has faith that, “God loves me no matter what,” and attends men’s bible study. He identifies as a straight man who dates women. He can’t afford top surgery to remove his “boobs” so he wears a skin tight body suit, which he finds very uncomfortable, impractical for peeing and ultimately depressing. Imelio Ramirez, Lorenzo’s 14-year-old son, gives his dad a verbal lesson in how to use a public urinal and survive the experience. They form a tender and dynamic duo.
Morgan Weinert prefers the pronoun “they,” having used masculine pronouns and testosterone in the past. They are attracted to a variety of people that identify as male, cisgendered (meaning people who identify with the sex they were born with) and trans. In their mind they are a “fabulous gay man.” Weinert has a trans male partner.
Darcy Allder is a social work student who is negotiating his school/work life while pregnant. He had masculinizing top surgery nine years ago. Uncomfortable socially while taking testosterone, he found that passing as a white male brought inherent boy’s club misogyny. He stopped taking “T” and now sees himself as living in a gender middle space. Allder is most comfortable in a slender body so struggles with feeling unattractive in pregnancy.
AK Summers identifies as “faggy butch,” and looked to pregnancy as “nine months that would really suck.” Summers chronicled her experience through a graphic memoir, Pregnant Butch, and was determined her mother was not going to be in the delivery room.
The anecdotes in A Womb of Their Own are punctuated with personal histories in the form of childhood and family photographs. Progressing through chapters from breasts to genitalia and healthcare, to name a few, we are allowed to share in intimate details and reflections. A trans health provider points out that a trans or masculine-identified person with a vagina can face social alienation when trying to find an understanding gynecologist. Societal challenges facing people living outside of the gender binary are acknowledged without being dwelled upon.
Is gender diversity really all that complex? The lessons from A Womb of Their Own shine a light on the beauty of human life, spirit, love and acceptance. It’s that simple. Isn’t it?
The Out North Queer Film Festival features the documentary A Womb of Their Own screens on April 16 at 8:15 p.m. at the Beringia Interpretive Centre.
The Yukon Queer Film Alliance has six films on the program for the Out North Queer Film Festival, which runs April 15 – 17 at the Beringia Interpretive Centre. For complete information and trailers go to YukonQueerFilmAlliance.com.