Personality Transcends Body

Cinema Politica Doc Regretters Cuts Deep Into Gender

“Sometimes I say I represent a third sex,” Orlando Fagin says to Mikael Johannson in the documentary Regretters. “I’ve gone through two sex changes; what’s the next stage for me?”

Both are men-turned women and then once again turned back into men. The two meet for the first time to discuss their similar search for self-identity in Regretters.

Sex changes are still taboo in our society and it is rare for an individual to go under the knife to shift genders, but that is just what these men have done—twice.

Regretters explores the often-ignored grey areas of gender, sexuality and how deeply these factors affect a person’s identity . The film will be screened by Cinema Politica for its Quebec premiere.

The “regretters” are two sixty-something Swedish men who are meeting for the first time to discuss their similar experiences. Simply by looking at the two individuals, it is easy to see how different they are, but throughout their conversation, one sad similarity becomes crystal clear: both regret their initial decision to go under the knife. In fact, both Fagin and Johannson were searching for things in life that, in retrospect, had very little to do with the physicality of gender, and much to do with respect and acceptance.

“I missed having a woman in my life so desperately that I damn well had to become one myself to deal with the intense longing,” says Johannson while the pair are flipping through photographs of their past selves.
At the time of the filming, Johannson had not yet had his surgery to transform back into a male. He is certain that he is ready to leave “Mikaela” behind and embrace his former self. He talks with sadness about the doubt and insecurities that led him to believe that becoming a woman could improve his life.

Regretters gives the viewer a new perspective on the topic of gender and sexuality. Confining people into concrete male or female roles is unrealistic and confusing when one finds they do not align with characteristics assigned to their gender. Desperate situations are formed when one does not have a sense of self, and these two men prove that extreme measures are not always the right answer.

Through their discussion the, two, sometimes humorously but always honestly, tackle the idea that personality transcends the body.

Regretters / Feb. 15 / 7 p.m. / Room H-110 / All films are free of charge, but donations are encouraged

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 22, published February 8, 2011.