Cinema Q: Trinidad
USA, 2008, 85 Minute Running Time
Once a mafia-run enclave of the Wild West, Trinidad, Colorado, began its unlikely transformation in the late 1960s, when Stanley Biber performed his first genital reassignment surgery (GRS). Forty years and 5,800 operations later, the town is now known as “the sex change capital of the world.” In Trinidad, directors PJ Raval and Jay Hodges introduce us to Marci Bowers, formerly Mark Bowers, herself a genital reasssignment surgeon; two of her former patients, who are committed to building a post-op recovery center in town; and the folks of this rural ranching locale, who by and large seem to accept their transgender guests and neighbors.
A pioneer in the field of GRS, Biber worked quietly in Trinidad’s hospital until his growing reputation forced him to go public. Trinidad became the place for transgenders to congregate before and recover after their surgeries. Upon replacing Biber, Marci refined his procedures and soon had a year-long waiting list of patients. Now, two of Marci’s successes, Sabrina Marcus and Laura Ellis, have decided to stay in Trinidad and refurbish an old house into a transitional residence they’ve named Morning Glow, where both physical and spiritual healing can occur. Sabrina, fired by NASA for her sex change, devotes herself to the renovation project even as Laura, a physician who funds it, grows increasingly annoyed with its slow progress.
In true cinema verité style, Raval and Hodges kept their crew small, used natural lighting, and took a personal approach to the filming of Trinidad. Avoiding sensationalism, they followed the three women through their daily routines, recording their stories and conversations. As it considers the town’s history and gives voice to its residents, this documentary addresses a theme that is, after all, universal: How do any of us cultivate a sense of self and accept our individuality?
Producer: (executive) Matt Dentler, PJ Raval, Jay Hodges
Editor: Kyle Henry
Cinematographer: PJ Raval
Principal Cast: Marci Bowers, Laura Ellis, Sabrina Marcus