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Reel transsexuals.

Sebastian Cole is the latest in Hollywood's spotty history of sex-change story lines

A man in the process of morphing into a woman: The very notion sounds inherently dramatic. But while tabloid TV tabloid TV
Television news programming that presents the news in a fast-paced, condensed form, usually with sensational material.
 has been exploiting transsexualism transsexualism

Self-identification with one sex by a person who has the external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics of the other sex. Early in life, such a person adopts the behaviour characteristic of the opposite sex.
 for years--it sometimes seems every pre-op transsexual trans·sex·u·al
A person who strongly identifies with the opposite gender and who chooses to live as a member of the opposite gender or to become one by surgery.

1. Of or relating to such a person.

 in America has appeared on one TV talk show or another--Hollywood movies have been much more reticent on the subject.

Both The Christine Jorgensen Story and Myra Breckinridge came out in 1970, but it wasn't until John Lithgow traded in shoulder pads for a Maidenform in his sympathetic performance as Roberta Muldoon in 1982's The World According to Garp that transsexualism went mainstream. That studio foray was followed by occasional independent films such as 1992's The Crying Game, in which Jaye Davidson's secret is that he's saving up for the operation, and 1994's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, featuring Terence Stamp's own song of Bernadette. Fully realized female-to-male tales have been even fewer. Tilda Swinton blithely switched genders in 1993's Orlando, but her character was more a metaphoric transsexual than a clinical case, while Nebraska murder victim Brandon Teena--whose tragic true-life story will be told in the upcoming Take It Like a Man--never saw the inside of a sex-change clinic at all.

All of which makes it something of a surprise when, in the first reel of the new indie film The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (opening June 25), Hank, the teen hero's regular-guy stepfather, matter-of-factly announces to his family that he has decided to become a woman.

"I did have a close family friend who was a transsexual," explains Tod Williams, the autobiographical movie's writer and a first-time director, "and that was the real inspiration for the movie. I realized I had had almost no reaction. I was probably too self-obsessed back then to realize what was going on."

To portray Hank's low-key transformation into Henrietta, Williams chose New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 stage actor Clark Gregg, "the first actor I saw who was willing to play the part and not the dress," the director says.

"I didn't want to play a cross-dressing male," Gregg says. "With Henrietta, what you see is what you get (jargon) What You See Is What You Get - (WYSIWYG) /wiz'ee-wig/ Describes a user interface for a document preparation system under which changes are represented by displaying a more-or-less accurate image of the way the document will finally appear, e.g. when printed. . The cool irony that Tod came up with is that the person who's making the most radical life choices--and who some people might consider, in a simplistic sim·plism  
The tendency to oversimplify an issue or a problem by ignoring complexities or complications.

[French simplisme, from simple, simple, from Old French; see simple
 sense, the most flaky--is also the most solid, dependable person in Sebastian's life. I felt like any tremendous level of artifice would only impede Henrietta's ability to be a good parent."

Adds Williams: "The crux of the movie for me was defining that relationship [between Sebastian and Henrietta], finding out what was real about it and how the labels that are attached to it were irrelevant."

That confounding confounding

when the effects of two, or more, processes on results cannot be separated, the results are said to be confounded, a cause of bias in disease studies.

confounding factor
 of easy labels is probably one reason so few transsexuals have appeared on film. In the year-end release Flawless, for example, Philip Seymour Hoffman For other persons named Philip Hoffman, see Philip Hoffman (disambiguation).

Philip Seymour Hoffman (born July 23, 1967) is an Academy Award-winning American actor. Biography
Early life
Hoffman was born in Fairport, New York to Gordon S.
 stars as a drag queen drag queen Female impersonator, gynemimetic Sexology A ♂ with ♀ affect–often 'overplayed'; a ♂ homosexual and ♀ wannabe, with ♂ genitalia; DQs may take hormones to ↑ breasts, and thus are hormonally, but not surgically , but as director Joel Schumacher explains, "Philip's character doesn't see himself as gay. He doesn't consider himself a man at all, but a woman trapped in a man's body. I know most people find that idea confusing, but I've known people like that, and for them, it's very real."

Kilday is a freelance entertainment reporter who contributes to Premiere and Los Angeles magazines.
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Title Annotation:'The Adventures of Sebastian Cole' is latest film portrayal of a transsexual
Author:Kilday, Gregg
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 25, 1999
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