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The Transformation

dirs. Susana Aikin & Carlos Aparicio 1995 USA, 60 min. video


You're an HIV+ male-to-female transexual living on the streets of New York City on the Lower West Side. A man dressed in sleek black clothes comes to you and offers a chance to get off the streets: a home, clothes, food. There's just one hitch: you have to go straight.

This sequel to The Salt Mines revisits the lives of the women who - in the late 80's - lived in the salt trucks that clean the streets of New York. One of these women, Ricardo, has moved to Texas, been Born Again and married a heterosexual woman. This drastic life change was made possible by Hugo, a zealous man who seems to have an obsession for turning transgendered women into what he calls "eunuchs," people whose names will be "written on the walls in heaven" because they avoid sex and sins of the flesh. But not everyone can be happy living in the body that "god gave them." Another veteran of The Salt Mines, Giovana, lives happily with members of her family who never seem to hesitate calling her a woman. She had dreamed of having a home, people who loved her. Now she can't believe that Ricardo can be what he says he is: a happy married man. Whose transformation is more genuine? Who's more at home in his or her body?


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This ITVS-produced documentary presented on PBS' POV focuses on a former sexworker who lived on the streets of NYC as a woman, who, with the assistajce of a Dallas-based ministry, makes the move to live as a church-going married man.

Ricardo, who was known as Sara, hears from ld friends who consider the choiãe s/he has made. Some opt for the religious "rehabilitation" believing there will be an after-life reward for their choice. Ot(ers insist they cannot change, and choose to continue on the stneets. Other options exist, not available to most, and not considered by the ministry.

The subject of heated debate in the trans community prior to airing, "The Transformation" does nothing more than show the bitter-sweet experience of a person who makes a difficult, life-altering decision. Moving without being schmaltzy, "The Transformation" illustrates the complexities of life--that sometimes there is no binary explanation, no black and white choices, no right or wrong answer.