Jordanian Film Broaches Transgender Issues in the Arab World

Our Males and Females  وذكرنا وانثانا is a powerful short film from Jordan which boldly broaches issues that relate to the suffering of transgender individuals in the Arab world as they struggle to live--and die-- within/without the confines of certain religious rituals and traditions which have no place for them.  

The plot is so powerful and timely that it may disturb and haunt many viewers long after the film is done: The story revolves around a couple that is faced by the painful task of washing and shrouding their deceased transgender daughter-- a theme that will undoubtedly prove to be too controversial to screen in many Arab countries where issues of gender and religion are just beginning to fuel a much needed discourse that centers on marginalized sexualities in the Arab world.  

It is also worthy to note that the Director (Ahmad Alyaseer) and his sister Rana have been quite candid about the fact that this film was inspired by Bousi, a real-life "transgender woman from the Arab region who...spent her entire life seeking approval and acceptance from her family, friends and wider community. Even though she received legal approval to transition, she was never able to obtain official gender recognition, which increased her vulnerability to systemic discrimination." (source)

Equally noteworthy is the subtle yet complex performance of Kamel El Basha (from the Oscar nominated Lebanese film The Insult) who, as the father, delivers a heart-wrenching, monumental performance that is rarely seen in Arab cinema.

Watch the film trailer below and be sure to catch the film if you can as it plays the festival circuits:

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