Metamorphosis: Man into Woman

Director: Lisa Leeman

Institute History


As many as sixty thousand people are uncomfortable with the sex they were born into (gender dysphoria), and almost ten thousand have undergone sex-reassignment surgery. Gary, a thirty-nine-year-old transsexual, has been convinced since childhood that he is a woman trapped in a man's body. At thirty-five, Gary decides to begin the extraordinary process of changing his sex. Before he can be accepted for sex-reassignment surgery, however, Gary must prove that he can successfully live and work as a woman, twenty-four hours a day, for a least one year.

One of the primary distinctions of Metamorphosis, the first U.S. documentary to intimately follow one person's transformation from man to woman, is its compassionate, yet unsentimental, treatment of its main character. Filmmakers Lisa Leeman and Claudia Hoover refuse to idealize their subject, who, in turn, allows him/herself to be shown experiencing a wide spectrum of physical appearances and human emotions: from self-doubt and edginess to elation and wry humor.

The film follows Gary/Gabi as he works to become a woman, sorting out his masculine and feminine traits, undergoing facial plastic surgery, electrolysis, and psychological counseling and attending a transsexual support group. We observe Gabi trying to reconcile gender conflicts with religious beliefs and undauntedly going to work, where the changes (not to mention the daily fashion show of new frocks) affect co-workers in a variety of ways. With hormone and other therapies, Gabi becomes more comfortable in her chosen role, progressing toward a newfound pride and self-acceptance.

Metamorphosis captures more than a compelling visual transformation; the film raises profound questions about contemporary gender stereotypes as Gary's fantasies collide with the realities of living as a woman. Watching Gary make conscious choices about what is appropriate challenges the audience to confront biases about male and female behavior.

Monday, January 22 10:30 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema I

Tuesday, January 23 7:00 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema III

Thursday, January 25 4:30 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema I

Saturday, January 2710:30 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema I


— Robert Hawk

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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