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Featuring intersex activists Tiger Devore and Jim Bruce

Release date: 2000
Studio: Stanford University, Department of Art & Art History


This is the finest film on the issues of intersex Americans, and an indispensable tool for instructors of Human Sexuality, Gender Identity, and Social Psychology. The film calls into question the ethics of American pediatrics as well as our fixation on whether a baby is a boy or a girl. The film not only sheds light on a shamefully neglected topic, but is a siren call to end the barbaric and totally unnecessary cosmetic surgeries on the genitals of American intersex infants.
– Winston Wilde, Prof. of Human Sexuality and Behavioral Sciences, Santa Monica College
At only 13 minutes long, Porter Gale and Laleh Soomekh's documentary, XXXY, is essential filmmaking. A look at people born with ambiguous genitalia who had the grave misfortune of having their sex surgically decided for them as infants, the film concisely and powerfully conveys horror, injustice and tremendous personal fortitude. And it does all this through its straightforward cinematic visit with 25-year-old Kristi and clinical psychologist Howard Devore, two individuals who endured the experience themselves. The film's stripped down quality — talking heads, the occasional shot of a childhood home, or Kristi on a bike — means there's nothing to interfere with the pair's stories; the impact is profound. Plenty of others thought so too; after a successful international festival run, the film was awarded a student Academy Award gold medal. (Filmmaker Magazine, 2000)
The most fascinating documentary, and my pick for overall winner, is XXXY (which consists of interviews with two intersex people). The film points out that 1 in 2000 people is born with genitalia neither completely male nor completely female, and the film examines the pressure the medical community puts on intersex people and their parents to undergo surgery to fit them into a male or a female mold. The film, although at times a little too distant, is effective because it avoids cloying sentimentality and focuses clearly on a specific aspect of its subjects without avoiding other issues.
– Fred Choi, MIT Tech, June 8, 2001 ('s Second Queer Short Film Festival)

Plot outline

...the 13-minute film XXXY by Porter Gale and Laleh Soomekh. This emotionally gripping short film centers on two people who were born intersex—Kristi, a bike messenger, and Howard, a clinical psychologist. Their stories share the common pain of being raised after having undergone corrective genital surgery as children. Fighting against a world in which doctors make arbitrary choices about children's sex and gender, independent of their parents, Kristi and Howard relate the horrors of adolescence and adulthood when one is "not wholly male or female." Kristi, who was born XY (male) but was raised as a girl, sums up the confusion and pain of hermaphrodite individuals when she says, "I'm not a girl. Stop treating me like I am!" (The Harvard Crimson, April 27, 2001)


  • Winner-2001 Student Academy Awards, Best Documentary
  • Gay & Lesbian Online Movie Awards
  • Western Psychological Assn. honoree
  • New York EXPOsition of Short Film and Video Jury Award
  • Palm Springs Shorts Film Festival Award
  • Louisville Film and Video Festival honoree,
  • San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Intl. Film Festival honoree
  • Selected for screening at more than a dozen international film festivals

See also

External links