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'No Dumb Questions' sheds light on transgender community


June 24, 2013

Project Humanities at Arizona State University, in partnership with the Emeritus College, is hosting a free screening of “No Dumb Questions” at 6 p.m. on July 18 at the Burton Barr Central Library. The film by Melissa Regan follows three little girls as they come to terms with their Uncle Bill becoming Aunt Barbara.

In the documentary, the girls ask their parents questions such as, “Does he have to go into the men’s or women’s bathroom?”, “What if he is unhappy being a woman?” and “How does he get rid of his facial hair?” Regan hoped that taking this approach would explore the questions surrounding the trans* community and the real life situations that many face when coming out to their family.  

Through a series of emotional and sometimes humorous scenes, the children journey to understand the reasons behind Aunt Barbara’s transition and accept her decision.

Ira Sanchez, a member of the trans community in Phoenix, says that the concept of being transgender is still not fully integrated into society.

“When it comes to more psychological issues such as our names, identities, genders and words we use to define our bodies, it's treated as if it's completely different, when it's not. Many parents tell their kids they can become whoever/whatever makes them happy. For the most part, we don't live in a society that upholds that,” said Sanchez.

Growing up in a Messianic Jewish family, he says that his parents threatened to disown him if he didn’t grow up to be a straight female. For safety reasons, he decided to push the thought of being a transgender person to the back of his mind as a teenager.

In 2009 he could no longer ignore his feelings. His family did in fact disown him, an experience that he calls incredibly painful, but freeing in the sense that he didn’t have to hide his true identity anymore.

Sanchez’s transition began with a single step: “Call me Ira.” He believes that just like a book, you shouldn’t judge someone by a perceived image.

“Everyone is different, and that includes trans people,” he said.

To learn more about the “No Dumb Questions” screening, please visit https://humanities.asu.edu/.

*Trans is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum.