Sunday, April 15, 2007

a member of the third gender

Today's newspaper interviews James Lescene, who is an actor starring in I Am My Own Wife, a one-actor play about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who was born a man, but lived openly as a woman in East Germany under the Nazi and Communist regimes.

I appreciated Lescene's answer to the following question: Did Charlotte ever want to be a transsexual?

Lescene replied, "She said, 'I wanted to live as a woman. I did not want to become a woman.' She felt that was closer to who she was. She felt that was closer to who she was. In most cultures, there is a third gender, and I think she represents that. She didn't want to be a woman, and she didn't want to be a man. She wanted to be this third thing. The fact that during a period of history in which everybody was required to be either one thing or the other, strictly, she somehow managed to be that third thing. It's not that she wanted to be gay. She wanted to live her life as this third thing, which there was no room for.

"That's why the play is so timely, I think. I look around now and think it's crazy. Everybody has to be either this or that, even in the gay community. There's very little discussion or room for this third gender. When people think of transvestites or transsexuals, they always think of kooks. They don't think about the people who are quietly living their lives and trying to be their own person. For better or worse, Charlotte was her own person."

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