Unique directed by Nachum Mochiach, a documentary of 52 minutes, that focuses on the personal and professional life of Gili Bason, a transgender Israeli woman born in a man’s body living in the city of Tel Aviv, Israel. The protagonist in the film Gili Bason visited Dr Suporn in Thailand, as he is the best specialist in that field. Although the difficulties she faced are multifarious. “There is a glass ceiling in our country for people like me, which I am not sure can be broken, says Gili.
In the opening scene of the documentary Gili is shown wading through a crowd intermingling and hardly distinguishable with a voiceover of a telephonic conversation related to a television programme confirming an interview for “Telecinema” about her point of view on the film “The Danish Girl”? “I joined this movie expecting to see a past period in time, about a very interesting character and discovered the experiences she underwent back then in the movie is very relevant today as well.”
The film showcases the gradual change in the society’s outlook towards the transsexuals by exploring different experiences of Gili at different stages of her life. Her childhood was split between Beer Sheva and weekends at Givatayim and it was easier for people to accept the geographic and cultural differences between the two places in order to provide a socially acceptable reason for her long hair and different dressing habits. The reality was not even an option worth considering, the first step towards acceptability is recognition, at which the society miserably failed during the growing up years of Gili.“It was their way of explaining why I have long hair “Family and friends made her realize it was not good to imagine herself as a princess in the movie “the Little Mermaid” it was bad to watch that particular film multiple times. “I loved this movie a lot and dreamed to be Ariel.”As a girl either people related to her as a female or laughed at her pretending to be a girl.
When Gili was very young she was always interested in fashion. In her own words “But I was punished for it, not by you (mother), I paid for it in school, yes I paid for it.”It was also very difficult for her mother to accept the fact about her son and in a conversation it was revealed that while driving Gili to a friend’s house her mother asked her not to dress as a woman. And when she started performing her mother asked if she was going to be like Dana International.
Tel Aviv, the fashion capital of Israel is the place where her stage character Bloody Marry was born and that’s when Gili Basson truly started exploring her creative self getting rid of any leftover inhibitions and spread her wings in different spheres of life. “When I decided to create a female persona I created Bloody Marry to start performing”, she adds.
“I can perform in drag shows and bring home whoever I want” But again the limitations of social acceptance and society’s twisted perception starred down at her and she realized it was still a farfetched idea for most men to officially bring home a transsexual person and formally introduce to his family and friends as his girl friend.
“I was recently with a man” “That I really wanted to have kids with and marry and cook for him every day.” “And then he breaks your heart and tells you, I prefer to stop it now because bottom line- I cannot bring you home someone like you.”Breaking taboos in the conventional life is not where Gili stopped, considered a taboo even in the transgender community she discussed without any inhibitions about regular vaginal dilation sessions that one undergoes after gender reassignment surgery. “It really hurts at first; it was hard to cope with because the area did not heal yet. It was also hard since each session needs to be about 30 minutes. “It’s hard to do it three times a day”, she pensively murmured.
The different aspects of her career are well documented as a model, an actress and a costume designer in this long documentary. In this multiple identities as a stage actress, as a fashion designer, she seemed to have captured it all and quite successfully. She further adds “I was blessed that I did a good deed. I made a bride happy I feel good. I am laughing and I have money in my pocket”. Among her variety of activities for living: she hosts Women’s Bachelorette Parties, dances for living in night clubs parties and she is also a fashion designer and wants to be an actress, after finishing acting school.
Gili buys all the raw materials for her costumes she designs and studied fashion designing in college and is well versed in the behavior and contours of fabrics and stitches, she has her workshop setup where she designs and makes costumes. “Today I create many stage costumes for performers, I make costumes for strippers, and for pole dancers everything that has to do with drags queens and other things “She wants to expand further. “People know that I am talented in this area but I would like to grow from here”.
Her growing talent in costume designing led her to be a part of Shoshka Couture Fashion show in Tel Aviv’s old city hall and then eventually invited to The Beauty Dictionary on Channel 10.
“I design costumes, I host bachelorette parties, and I perform and dance in clubs but from an avant-garde angle which enables more playfulness. I design clothes for drag queens, for strippers, for pole dancers, for whoever is unconventional. Designing for brides is, for me personally less interesting. I find fantasy world more fascinating. I used the fashion world that is full of glitter and glam, to discover myself and the woman that I want to become.”
It showcases the change in society’s approach towards a social deviant and how it has partially accepted sexual fluidity and in some ways appreciated and celebrated it in the mainstream. How the approach towards transgender community has changed during Gili’s growing up years and now when she is a successful entrepreneur she has raised very relevant yet unaddressed questions.
“I am a woman; I am a female without the ability to have children, like any other barren woman. A barren woman will have more rights than I do. Why? Because I was not born a female, but we are currently in the same situation. Why a woman born without a womb allowed adopting, or using a surrogate, or marrying and I cannot? I am also a woman without a womb. A straight man does not go to gay parades, or understand the rights the gay community demands.”
As a guidance from someone who went through the same process, Gili accompanied another transgender to Thailand who was about to get her gender reassignment surgery done for. Recalling the problems she faced when she was there for her operation and revisiting the hotel room where she spend a month alone recuperating after the operation. The psychological trauma that a simple task of crossing an overpass bridge exerts on oneself is just a byproduct of being alone in a new city staring down at the biggest life altering decision.
“If I fall who would come here to pick me up.”While in Thailand, Gili took the time to revisit Dr.Suporn who operated on her. “I cannot be here without visiting my God that created me” It took Gili thirty years to conclude the fact that she must change physically not only mentally and in essence. Prior to that in formal places she referred to herself as a male but on the streets people indentified her as a female. At this point she reached a breaking point and questioned herself whether she felt comfortable playing between genders and she reached a point where she could not lie any more.
She feels like a woman knowing that I not a female and I have male genitalia.It happened when I approached the age of 30.I began realizing I cannot continue playing some game. She was not doing it for anything else but for her own self. It’s her journey towards herself realization. Despite all the obstacles, non acceptance, lack of social assimilation, success, recognition by media and an unseen future the essence of the film can be described in Gili Bason’s words.
“My Mother wanted a girl and got one. It took her 30 years but she got one”.
Bobo Ray did his graduation in computer application but shifted towards the film industry gradually. He has done his diploma in editing and now assisting Filmmakers. An avid biker, he wants to be a full fledged filmmaker someday soon.