“Every person has a different meaning of what it means to be a woman. What it means to be a man.”
What is the goal of life? Is it to sacrifice your happiness in order to fit into the straight and narrow of society? Or is it to be yourself and be happy? In The Cost of Gender, we follow Rev. Carla Robinson and Mexican opera singer, Morgana Love, on their path to self-realization and happiness. The star of the film, Rev. Carla, was unable to continue preaching about values of “truth, honesty and integrity” as a man in the church. She was not being honest to her true identity. Now Carla has begun the process of sexual reassignment, but she needs a sex reassignment surgery in order to fully become herself. Although she has health insurance, the insurance companies recognize sex reassignment surgeries as elective or cosmetic and will not cover the cost. Let’s break it down by the numbers. Non-surgical costs alone total $36,000: $1,000 in counseling, $6,000 in lab tests, $9,000 in hormone therapy, $20,000 for miscellaneous procedures. Add to that the cost of a male to female sex reassignment surgery: $23,000 in the U.S., or just $8,000 in Thailand. Next stop: Bangkok. Here we meet Morgana, whose striking femininity would never make you question her female gender and identity. She had the reassignment surgery, felt no pain afterwards and was singing “Besame Mucho” in an unwavering alto one week later. Her Thai surgeons believe in the happiness of the patient. “The Buddhist religion is to make a person happy” says Dr. Preecha. Perhaps those that dislike transgender people are not happy themselves. The current healthcare companies in the U.S. are not granting people the same liberties that are available in Thailand: in our country, 57% of trans patients are refused trans health services. 41% of trans people attempt suicide. 53% of LGBTQ homicide victims are trans women. These statistics are distressing and emphasize the reform that needs to happen in American insurance companies and within the consciousness of the American people. On the optimism side of the coin, though, Reverend Carla shows us that people in pursuit of happiness can endure. She looks forward to the day when the system is not lined up against her, but rather is there to help her. To hear more about the story of Rev. Carla and Morgana (while watching beautiful cinematography in Thailand!), check out the full video of The Cost of Gender. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite LGBTQ film here!