Regretters At 6:15 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater; also 11:15 a.m. on Sunday at AFI Silver Theater 2.

Regretters unfolds as a long talk between two men who underwent sex-change operations to become female only to immediately regret the loss of their penises. Its accusatory title aside, the film is less about the tragic indecisiveness of a couple of transgender people than it is about the desperation of homophobia and misogyny, the complexity of gender, and all the social expectations that come with a set of genitalia. Neither man ever really identified as the opposite sex, but both believed that living outwardly as women would help them escape their “failure” as men. Mikael Johansson, who holds a “typically feminine desire for home and nurturing” and cites The Bridges of Madison County as his romantic ideal, says he “practically lied to the psychiatrist” in order to secure his surgery in 1994, but “regretted [it] immediately” once the bandage came off. “I just clung to the belief that it would make things better...since people were always saying I had ‘feminine behavior,’” he says. Orlando Fagin came of age in the ’60s, when living as a gay man wasn’t an option. “It was against the law to be gay,” he says. Fagin turned to street prostitution, where he worked as what police called an “ass-bandit” while he dreamed of embodying the role of the idealized housewife. “A man would come home at night and say, ‘I missed you all day.’ Provide you with housekeeping money. Bring you flowers. You painted such a picture,” he says. He underwent his surgery in 1967, a decision which still “haunts” him. The men soon discovered that society’s opinion of less-than-masculine men was rivaled only by its opinion of women. “The response you get as a woman is very different compared to the response a man gets,” Johansson says. “Men get more respect.” The film’s greatest revelation is how even two men who share such unusual life circumstances still don’t experience gender in the same way. “I don’t know what I am,” Fagin says decisively, midway through their conversation. Johansson winces. “Sounds complicated,” he says. “No it isn’t, believe me,” Fagin responds. “That’s the point.”

Screens with I’m Just Anneke at 6:15 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater; also on Sunday, June 27, 11:15 a.m. at AFI Silver Theater 2.

Our Readers Say

Freak. (not them, but an exclamation) They didn't realize (or take time to notice) this before? There are wide range of gender and personalty expressions. A gay man doesn't have to be a woman. That is degrading. Your personality might have nothing to do with your biological gender.
So many more exclamations available here! So many that are not demeaning puns! Like, "For fuck's sake," for example.

For fuck's sake, Firefly. You think you could exercise a little bit more compassion and respect towards two people who have been through this much, and fought this hard to come to terms with their past actions? People who will have an extremely difficult time over this for years to come? People who were willing to make a documentary about how they had SRS surgery that they ended up regretting? It takes some chutzpah to respond to this level of honesty and courage with derision.

I have not seen this movie, but I'm guessing that they did try. I'm guessing they tried as hard as every queer, trans, or otherwise non-conforming person does when we're forced to confront our existence as a problem to solve. The problem wasn't that they didn't think or work hard. The problem was that they didn't have very many options at their disposal, and that they weren't given the love or support that you apparently take for granted.

Hey Amanda,

This just makes me sad. :<

I dont know how else to get in touch with you, or I wouldn't thread hijack. I just wanted to bring your attention to this

A Doctor at cornell is performing surgery to remove clitoral tissue on prepubescent girls and then stimulating their clitorises with a vibrator to see if they still have sensation. Could you maybe spread the word? Thanks,

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