XXY (2007)

XXY (2007)

The landmark Argentine feature that explores the intersex experience

7.0

Movie

Argentina, France
Spanish
Drama
2007
FEMALE DIRECTOR, LUCÍA PUENZO
Ailín Salas, Carolina Peleritti, Carolina Pelleritti
86 min

TLDR

It’s actually insane how this is Lucia Puenzo’s first directorial debut.

What it's about

Born with both male and female genitals, 15-year-old Alex has been living as a girl, moving from place to place with her family to avoid scrutiny. After moving to a beachtown in Uruguay, she falls in love with a boy, complicating her decision as to whether or not to proceed with sex-reassignment surgery.

The take

Some bigots like to equate genitals to one’s gender and sexual orientation, but in practice, it’s not always a straightforward equation, especially for the rare, but natural, occasion when people are born with both male and female sex organs. XXY isn’t the first film to discuss the intersex experience, but it’s one of the first features that managed to be critically acclaimed. Unlike some of its predecessors, XXY is much more grounded, taking place in the modern era, and is mostly centered on Alex’s gender and sexual exploration. The film isn’t a perfect depiction– at the time, intersex wasn’t even the most common term, and sex-reassignment surgery was often the default action– but there is a lot in the film that dared to question certain ideas, such as having to choose only between a binary. Not many intersex films were created after this, in part due to how rare intersex is, and how broad the term encompasses multiple conditions, but XXY stands out all the more because of it.

What stands out

The subject matter. The film does delve into some of the discrimination that intersex people likely have gone through, but what’s great is that writer-director Lucia Puenzo manages to depict these with a sensitivity that drives home the message without lessening the seriousness of this discrimination.

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