Skip

Transvestite Wives
August 21, 2008 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Transvestite Wives is a documentary: Part 1, and Part 2.
posted by chunking express (30 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
"20 year old Sam met 39 year old Chris when she took a part time job in his fish shop"
I have no problems with fetishes, but I can't get my brain to support a such a difference in age. How quickly is Sam going to leave Chris once she finds out that, under the makeup, he's just as boring as every other middle aged schmo.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:39 PM on August 21, 2008


How quickly is Sam going to leave Chris once she finds out that, under the makeup, he's just as boring as every other middle aged schmo.

**GASP** You little bitch!!!

//grabs purple Ralph Lauren alligator purse, totters out on size 12 heels//
posted by longsleeves at 9:56 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


i just found it odd (mabye just me), that transvestite don't want to so much wear the particle clothes/etc but taking the appearance of what social says a woman dresses. for examples i heard of men apart of Muslim socialite wanting berka.
posted by erifneerg at 10:05 PM on August 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


agree with erifneerg

they need to do way instain mother> who can't leave their babbys.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 10:16 PM on August 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


"A lot of people doubted the relationship before they even knew Chris was a tranny. You know, he's 20 years older than me, he used to be my boss, he's been married before. It's you... and on top of that, he's a tranny. And people just expect it not to work."
O RLY?
posted by airways at 10:28 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, did anyone catch the fattest of the wives sliding a knife into her glove before she steps out on the town with her husband?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:31 PM on August 21, 2008


A relevant Bizarro comic...
posted by porpoise at 11:00 PM on August 21, 2008


Where is this filmed, Scotland?
posted by stbalbach at 11:00 PM on August 21, 2008


... but with that said, I find relationships between people in which one party has a lifestyle choice (not shared by the other partner) that's tolerated poorly by the public - be it transvestitism/crossdressing, or alcholism/drug-addiction, or renfaire/cosplay or whatever - fascinating, in particular, with regard to whether the other party loves because or despite the lifestyle choice.
posted by porpoise at 11:07 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


wow, That was fascinating. The world is an amazing place. So many varieties of relationships, friendships and intimacies. Wonderful, gentle film.

But wait, the Scots have a problem with men in skirts?
posted by nickyskye at 1:54 AM on August 22, 2008


PS, nicolas léonard sadi carnot, that's not a knife or a glove, it's a wrist support, probably for carpal tunnel syndrome.
posted by nickyskye at 2:02 AM on August 22, 2008


I only watched the first 10 minutes or so, but that first couple were in Nottingham (England), not Scotland.
posted by idiomatika at 2:27 AM on August 22, 2008


Oh, that's a relief.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:47 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


While watching it in all of it's *Britishness,* I can't help but think that the same documentary made in the US wouldn't be half as sweet and would probably be 3000x trashier.

This reminds me of a great documentary I saw on BBC America about a teenage MTF transsexual living somewhere in Britain. I think it was called something really obvious like "I'm A Teenage Transsexual."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:35 AM on August 22, 2008


This is very sweet and heartwarming. My best friend is in a relationship very much like Sam and Rachel's. Her transvestite girlfriend is such a darling, and she's so happy to have all of us love and accept her for who she is, especially given how bad most of her family is about it.

I think it's confusing for a lot of folks outside of the GLBT community that a majority of t-girls (either transvestites or male-to-female transexuals) prefer relationships with women. But it really does make sense. These are biological males who feel a close affinity with women. They want to dress and act like women, but they also want to be close and intimate with women. It's nice to see that demonstrated so realistically in this documentary.
posted by Fenriss at 6:55 AM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, that's a relief.

That it wasn't a knife or the first couple isn't living in Scotland?

grapefruitmoon, so agreeing with you on the tone and intelligent lack of trashiness of the film. That prompted me to be able to listen more, absorb the stories, actually want to know more about transvestites. Just Wikipediaed the term and that's interesting in itself:

Magnus Hirschfeld coined the term transvestism (from Latin trans-, "across, over" and vestere, "to dress or to wear") in 1910 in his book "Die Transvestiten : eine Untersuchung über den erotischen Verkleidungstrieb" ("The transvestites : an investigation of the erotic urge to disguise").


It was strange/interesting to try and understand the sexual/social/playful thrill the guys get from the camouflage aspect.

Fenriss
, that was an amazing thing to learn in this film. I previously assumed, incorrectly, that all transvestites were gay men of the histrionic, exhibitionistic type in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In that movie it seemed the transvestites had nothing but contempt for women, so it was odd to me they would try and look like Las Vegas showgirls on acid.

I get the feeling that transvestites and maybe cross dressers too, want to best women, play the role better than those who are born with a female reproductive system. Like it's competitive, outdoing women for male attention? Two of the transvestites in this movie seemed to be married to women they could compete with, dress better than, look better than in other men's eyes. The youngest of the transvestites seemed to have a fiance who played transvestite with him. A complex and somewhat confusing combination of gender switching role play there.

What interested me in this film was that these particular "trannies" (who I thought much more of the cross-dresser heterosexual male in women's clothes type than the classic gay man drag queens) seemed to have compartmentalized an attraction to their mothers and wanted to dress in ways in which they would blend in to the world, looking something like mothers, in conservative, unobtrusive clothes. So they were straight guys and also a motherly/sisterly person in the same body. The wives they were married to got to have a relationship with two people, their husband and his compartmentalized mother/sister.
posted by nickyskye at 11:18 AM on August 22, 2008


Surprisingly well-done, I must say. The tone is really gentle and seems to respect the complicated contexts of each of the interviewees. I was interested in how pretty much all of the trannies they were speaking to here were really invested in a certain kind of normative, non-histrionic version of femininity. These are not the same trannies that I see here at Berghain in Berlin at about 10am on a Sunday.

I think one of the most useful lessons coming from this documentary—especially when comparing it to other documentaries that focus on other flavours of the trans spectrum—is that there are lots of different ways to do "tranny" and for lots of different reasons. When I lived in Paris, there were lots of "weekend warrior" tranny men who were really invested in the abject / transgressive side of cross-dressing, dressing up not just as a woman but as a "slut" and asking to be treated that way...cross-dressing for many of them seemed to be an extension of a fetish they had for desire and humiliation mixed together. Other cross-dressers are "working" trannies (entertainment, sex work, or whatever) for whom part of the attraction is the expanded range of possibilities for doing "fabulous." The men/women in this documentary, by contrast, describe a feeling of solidarity with femininity and a desire for the softer, smoother textures of that gender, rather than for dazzling display or the excitement of sexual power-games.

neat-o.
posted by LMGM at 12:21 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I get the feeling that transvestites and maybe cross dressers too, want to best women, play the role better than those who are born with a female reproductive system.

That's part of the whole aspect of drag, that to be convincing, you have to go one up. For a male to dress as a woman and be accepted as a woman, he has to go over the top or he's not a "woman," he's a "guy in a dress." I've seen this a lot in drag-queens (who, granted, are not the same as transvestites). RuPaul in full drag is more woman than I will ever be.

There's a lot of this going on in identity formation in transsexuals - both female and male, but yes, more apparent in MTF trans women as society has a narrower view of what a woman "is." The MTF woman has to try harder to be a woman and be more feminine than any biological woman. Of course, I think that most MTF women also have a pretty strong drive to be overly feminine because they can't define their womanhood by their ovaries or their menstrual periods, so they have a lot to "make up for" in appearance. I can't speak to that from experience, it's just a hypothesis based on knowing a few trans folk and reading a lot about gender development and expression.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:12 PM on August 22, 2008


This is really good. Thanks.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:26 PM on August 22, 2008


This thread is excellent. Am really appreciating the comments and the enjoyment of the film's gentle approach to the subject. Have never been able to really really understand much of the gay world's role playing, especially that of transvestites or the dressing up in different outfits or clothes of the other gender thing.

It always made sense to me that people of the same gender could or would love each other, find each other sexually attractive. What I think of as plain gay. Or that people of one gender might be hormonally inclined to prefer being the other gender. What I think of as transsexual or hormonally transgendered. Both seem plain and simple to understand.

But the dress up role playing of the gay world always mystified me. After watching this documentary and reading this thread I feel less confused, which is a nice surprise.

LMGM, "weekend warrior" tranny men who were really invested in the abject / transgressive side of cross-dressing, dressing up not just as a woman but as a "slut" and asking to be treated that way...cross-dressing for many of them seemed to be an extension of a fetish they had for desire and humiliation mixed together.

When I was a kid in in the mid 60's in NYC there used to be transvestites on upper Broadway, who wore mini skirts but their male parts hung below the hemline, a bit like a bell clapper. My eyes would see a female above and then notice the bell clapper, with a flinch. Oops. Didn't mean to see that. I felt tricked and that they enjoyed the hilarity of this mischief.

I always wondered who these guys were as people, why they did that, and I think your description of the weekend warriors makes sense.

Another anecdote. When I lived in Clement Town, a Tibetan refugee settlement in Northern India, my neighbor, Donkar, was an especially tall woman with a robustly forthright and quite jolly demeanor. To my amazement she had two husbands. One man was petite and slender in stature. He lived with Donkar. The other man, Agu Jimba, was exceptionally muscular, handsome and manly, rode a motorcycle. Jimba lived in an adjacent house. Donkar and her more petite husband went to work selling second hand sweaters together and I think Jimba was a kept man, paid for by her and deferring to the man who lived with Donkar. One day Donkar showed me photographs of herself in Tibet, dressed up as a Khampa (East Tibet) cowboy. With hat, gunbelt, short chuba, pants, boots and everything. She said that's basically how she lived, like a man but married.

Now that I've seen this documentary I wonder if she was a transvestite of sorts. A female to male one.

This preference of dressing up in the other gender's clothes apparently has a number of different pay offs, enjoyments and is part of different psycho-sexual agendas. I didn't realize that before.
posted by nickyskye at 3:41 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a scene where the fish store owner is shopping with his girlfriend and bemoaning the lack of lovely clothes on women he sees every day on the street. They have so many choices, he says, and it's a shame, they dress like slobs. If they'd put in more effort...

Guh! Sexism from men in a pain in the ass, but sexism from a man dressed as a woman? It feels somehow worse.
posted by houseofdanie at 4:23 PM on August 22, 2008


This is from a series of documentaries currently being shown on BBC America. I don't know which UK network they came from, since the US network, despite the "BBC" name, does include some content from non-BBC sources in the UK. Others in the series include things such as "My Big Breasts and Me," "My Small Breasts and I," "I'm a Boy Anorexic," "Plastic Surgery Junkies," and more.

These are surprisingly non-exploitative and interesting treatments of subjects that have been handled horribly on typical US shows. Hats off to the Brits.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:15 PM on August 22, 2008


There's a scene where the fish store owner is shopping with his girlfriend and bemoaning the lack of lovely clothes on women he sees every day on the street. They have so many choices, he says, and it's a shame, they dress like slobs. If they'd put in more effort...
Guh! Sexism from men in a pain in the ass, but sexism from a man dressed as a woman? It feels somehow worse.


I see that very differently. He really desperately wants to *pass* as a woman, so he's examining women and their dress and behavior closely because they don't have to *try* - they just ARE women. So, he's seeing them as ideals, of being something that he WANTS to be. So, he's not saying this out of a sense of "women are slobs, ugh" he's saying "Omigosh, women are so beautiful, and there are so many beautiful women's clothes, I don't understand why they wear cargo pants!"

To which you could certainly say "Well, friend, some people think they're comfortable" or "not everyone has the same sense of what is and is not beautiful" - but he is NOT saying that women dress like slobs because they're ugly or what have you.

It's actually quite the opposite. He's saying that he lacks the ability to be inherently feminine, and as that is his IDEAL, he can't understand why those who have it (women) don't embrace it more fully. He loves women and loves what it means to be a woman. But as I said before, the thing about drag is that it IS over the top. He can't quite grasp that track suits are a valid form of feminine expression because his world view is more narrowly defined.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:00 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have never been able to really really understand much of the gay world's role playing, especially that of transvestites or the dressing up in different outfits or clothes of the other gender thing.

Technically, these men are not gay. Sure, transvestism comes under the giant Queer Umbrella, but these men aren't gay. They're straight. Their sexuality is heterosexual. They are not attracted to men. Also, they are not to be lumped in with transsexuals, who feel that they truly inhabit the opposite gender from their birth gender. These men are men who have the need to express themselves as women, on a part-time only basis.

It's an interesting segment of the sexuality-gender continuum. Sure, they're straight men. But they're straight men who dress as women, so they have to be... gay... somehow... right?

Which really says a lot about our conceptions of masculinity and heterosexuality. If you're not normatively male and normatively heterosexual, then, surely, you're gay. In this case though, it doesn't work. These men are men. They are not trying to subvert any part of their masculine identity by having, shall we say, a "feminine side." Nor are they homosexual or homosexually inclined.

The transvestite fits more into the straight male role than the gay male role, but is increasingly lumped in with the latter due to the former's intolerance of anything that doesn't fit the norm. I'm not saying that anyone should be banned from the Queer Umbrella, but rather that it's unfortunate that this misconception of transvestism comes from our society's own narrow definitions of gender and sexuality.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:06 PM on August 22, 2008


not saying that anyone should be banned from the Queer Umbrella, but rather that it's unfortunate that this misconception of transvestism comes from our society's own narrow definitions of gender and sexuality.

But there are gay transvestites. Like the classic drag queens of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Historically men who dress as women in a variety of cultural settings have identified as being homosexual, such as the hijra. The term intersex is used in that Wikipedia link.

That's the kind of dressing up I never understood. I had no idea before watching this documentary that there were heterosexual transvestites.

Maybe the right term for this particular type of cross-dresser, as shown in the documentary is more like inter-gender heterosexuals?

From that hijra article I learned the term gender taxonomy, which is also useful.
posted by nickyskye at 9:35 PM on August 22, 2008


How did this (from Metafilter's own Lore Fitzgerald Sjoberg) not get posted somewhere in this discussion.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:16 AM on August 23, 2008


If it did and I managed to miss it, color me embarased.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:17 AM on August 23, 2008


Eddie Izzard has addressed his transvestism in his standup:

"I'm an action transvestite. It's running, jumping, climbing trees, putting on makeup while you're up there."

"I was going to be in the army. Cos if you're a transvestite, you're actually a male tomboy.
It's not drag queen. Gay men have got that covered.
And this is male tomboy. People get that mixed up. They put transvestite there. No! Bit of a crowbar separation, thank you. Gay men I think would agree. It's male lesbian. That's really where it is. Because... It's true, most transvestites fancy women, that's where it is."

(From Dress To Kill)
posted by subbes at 8:08 AM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


i just wanted to add, even though this thread may have past its prime by now, that it should not be understated the extent to which, if there is indeed more that a transvestite/crossdresser/MtF has to do to emphasize his/her femininity, the dedication and involvement necessary to effectively bridge this gap contributes to the desire to do so.
posted by flyinghamster at 8:10 AM on August 23, 2008


I find the couples--where the man revealed his need to wear dresses AFTER they were married--to be fascinating. It's hard to see how the couples were able to overcome the dishonesty. Trust is one of the most important things in a relationship. I would have a hard time maintaining a relationship with someone who told me he wore dresses AFTER we were married. It would feel like entrapment. I find the omission much more disturbing than the crossdressing. Once trust is broken, I think it's hard to hold a relationship together. For me, lying severs a relationship at its foundation. I think I could deal with a person's need to crossdress, but the lying is just too much.
posted by teej at 8:12 PM on August 23, 2008


« Older Fuelly tracks your gas mileage.   |   When celebrities and language collide. In Japan! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post