Transgender People Are Back in the News

In Cassils’ first ever dance piece, trans bodies made movement — and a striking canvas

The late ’80s were a tumultuous time for transgender people in America. That much was made clear in the 1992 film The Matrix, about a fictional dystopian future in which people who do not live as their assigned gender are considered mentally ill and sentenced to a re-education camp. At the time, transgender people found themselves under siege, and often had to hide who they truly were for their safety and privacy. Now in the 21st century, trans bodies are once again on the radar as the public and lawmakers seek to understand and move beyond the binary of male and female.

In a short, black-and-white video, Cassils’ dance piece takes a satirical look at the dangers of trying to fit a transgender body into an already-defined female or male mold. The video consists of two female bodies, one of whom has been surgically altered to be male, and one of whom is not. The video ends with the two different body pairs dancing a duet.

The piece opens with the video of an unknown woman, who we later learn is Cassils’ second wife. The image, which can be viewed below, is of Cassils and her then-partner, Kim, dancing with the camera on her.

In the clip, we can see that Cassils’ female body, which is partially male, was created in a sex-change operation. The man’s penis was attached to the woman’s thigh, while the woman’s breasts were placed on top of the man’s penis. Cassils’ partner, Kim, also had her body altered, but to become more feminine. Cassils tells the camera “I was born male, but I don’t like it. I want to be a woman. So I had to change bodies.”

The video then transitions to Cassils in her current female body, which consists of her chest, stomach, underarm and genitals. In an interview with Out magazine, Cassils

Leave a Comment