‘Seen, understood, and not alone’
The Pride Centre of Edmonton’s Queer Women and Trans Fest returns for a third year this week. This year, the event partnered with Metro Cinema and Edmonton Pride Festival to present a mini film fest on June 17 and 18. On the screen at 4 pm Saturday is In the Turn, which recounts a 10-year-old transgender girl’s struggles with prejudice in the sports world and is followed by a panel discussion.
On Sunday at 1 pm is A Womb of Their Own, which explores masculine-of-centre-identified people who experience pregnancy. This film will be followed by a panel with the filmmaker Cyn Lubow in attendance.
I had a chance to connect with Cyn over email to chat about the film. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Vue Weekly: Can you tell me about the genesis of the film?
Cyn Lubow: In looking for the topic of my next film, I thought it would be helpful to study gender beyond the transgender conversation already happening (this was in 2013). I loved helping people with internal conflicts as a psychotherapist and wanted to help people on a larger scale through film. I wanted to push the conversation beyond male/female/transwoman/transman to non-binary, self-defined gender that is inclusive of everyone.
As a mix of masculine and feminine, I didn’t know how to fit with either cis or transgender people. I broke the rules in both groups. So I wanted to create space and normalization for those of us who are not any of those four genders, and I thought I could do it by pairing pregnancy with masculine identity and undermining any limiting assumptions people might make. Since I experienced that pairing myself, I knew some of the challenges it brings to cultural expectations, certainly within cisgender heterosexual communities, but even within LGBT communities.
VW: Although there has been a growing conversation in the mainstream (and I’d include cisgender gays and lesbians in here) about masculine pregnancy, it still feels relatively new. What has been the reaction to the film so far?
CL: Surprisingly (knock on wood) I have not gotten any hate (yet?)! I have certainly gotten some confusion and seen some minds blown, but that is what I was going for. Genderqueer people have come up to me after the film in tears, because it was such a relief to see themselves reflected back to them—something cisgender heterosexuals get every time they watch media, but genderqueer people may never get. Others have thanked me for making them think and making it enjoyable, even as they had to shift through some discomfort about such things as, for example, seeing a bearded pregnant person.
VW: What is one thing you hope audiences take away from the film?
CL: It depends on the audience. For people who identify with the subjects in the film, I hope they leave feeling seen, understood, and not alone. I hope they feel the euphoria of delighting in their true nature, with a break from pressures to be anything else. For birth professionals, I hope the film gives them a felt sense of being with queer people and families in a way that helps them feel more at ease when queer families want to work with them, and that it inspires them to continue to educate themselves or affirms the consciousness they’re already bringing to their work. I hope everyone thinks more about limiting beliefs and feelings that oppress your own or other people’s true nature and work with what you discover so that it can yield to acceptance, including self-acceptance.
A full review of A Womb of Their Own can be read on page 11.