A Change of Sex

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A Change of Sex
Directed by David Pearson
Produced by Roger Mills (executive producer)[1]
Starring Julia Grant
Cinematography Mike Southon
Edited by
Distributed by BBC2
Release date
  • 25 June 1979 (1979-06-25) (United Kingdom)
Country England
Language English

A Change of Sex is a multi-part television documentary about English trans woman Julia Grant. The first chapter, initially titled George, premiered on BBC2 in 1979. It is one of the first documentary films about transgender issues.

BBC2 repeated the programme in 1980, followed by two new chapters, Julia: The First Year and Julia: My Body, My Choice. A revised version aired in 1994, accompanied by another new chapter, The Untold Story, which updates viewers on Julia's life of the past 15 years. The final instalment, Julia Gets Her Man, followed in 1999. David Pearson directed the films.

Julia Grant was born in 1954.[2] The documentary introduces us to her as George Roberts, a catering manager. Although she performs as a drag queen, George says she has never felt at home in gay male culture. She feels inside that she is a woman, and she wishes for sex reassignment surgery. The National Health Service refers her to the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital. As she sits in the consulting room, we hear the voice of her psychiatrist, but we never see his face. His attitude toward Julia is stern and disparaging.[3] His deskside manner was the inspiration for the character Dr Ira Carlton, a "despotic GP who rules his patients with eccentric zeal" in the black comedy series The League of Gentlemen.[4]

Beyond the consulting room, the filmmakers follow Julia through her experiences of hormone therapy, shopping for women's clothing, gender confirmation surgeries,[5] her professional life, and other dimensions of her transition.

Production and broadcast[edit]

A Change of Sex began as an episode of Inside Story, a documentary television series oriented toward investigative journalism. There was sufficient interest in the episode—which was titled George[6]—for Pearson to explore Julia's story further. He and his crew filmed her progress in 1979 and 1980. George was retitled George: The Big Decision,[7] and the more recent footage was edited into two new chapters: Julia: The First Year[8] and Julia: My Body, My Choice.[9] This three-film series was titled A Change of Sex, and BBC2 broadcast it in October 1980. New English Library published Julia's autobiography, George and Julia, that same month.[10][11]

In 1993, Pearson revisited Julia to film a fourth chapter of the documentary about her life.[12]:269 Filming and editing continued into 1994,[12]:269 but the earlier programmes were also edited in order to make a four-part story into a trilogy: George & Julia, Desperate Measures, and The Untold Story. This revised version of A Change of Sex aired on BBC2 in August 1994. The broadcast coincided with the publication of Julia's second memoir, Just Julia: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman.[12][13]

In 1998, Pearson filmed Julia once more. BBC2 repeated the 1994 edition of the previous films in July and August 1999 before broadcasting the final chapter, Julia Gets Her Man.[14] It updates viewers on developments in Julia's life over the past four years—including a new job and a growing relationship.[14]

Broadcast history[edit]

George (Inside Story episode)[edit]

TitlePhotographed byEdited byOriginal air date
"George"Mike Southon[15]David Gladwell25 June 1979 (1979-06-25)[16]
24-year-old George Roberts feels that he is a woman, and he wants to have sex reassignment surgery. Before the National Health Service will approve the surgical procedures, they refer him to a psychiatrist in the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital. The psychiatrist tells George that he must first live as a woman for one year. George throws away his men's clothing, informs his employer, and (per the hospital's requirements) finds a new flat nearer to the clinic.

A Change of Sex[edit]

1980 broadcast
No.TitlePhotographed byEdited byOriginal air date
1"George: The Big Decision"Mike Southon[15]David Gladwell15 October 1980 (1980-10-15)[17]
Julia is a catering manager who wishes to transition medically. She seeks help at Charing Cross Hospital.
2"Julia: The First Year"David Feig / Mike Southon[15]?16 October 1980 (1980-10-16)[18]
Julia must live as a woman socially for one year before the NHS will approve her gender confirmation sugery.
3"Julia: My Body, My Choice"David Feig / Keith TaylorTony Heaven17 October 1980 (1980-10-17)[19]
With the support of her boyfriend and her mother, Julia has gender confirmation surgery with Dr Michael Royle.
1994 and 1999 broadcasts
No. Title Air date
1994 broadcast 1999 broadcast
1"George & Julia"4 August 1994 (1994-08-04)[20]20 July 1999[21]
Julia is a catering manager who wishes to transition medically. As required by the NHS and a psychiatrist at Charing Cross Hospital, she lives as a woman socially for one year to qualify for gender confirmation sugery.
2"Desperate Measures"11 August 1994 (1994-08-11)[22]27 July 1999[23]
With the support of her boyfriend and her mother, Julia has gender confirmation surgery with Dr Michael Royle.
3"The Untold Story"18 August 1994 (1994-08-18)[24]3 August 1999[25]
Julia is a ceramicist with a factory in Chesterfield; she also teaches ceramics classes on-site.
4"Julia Gets Her Man"N/A (N/A)10 August 1999[27]
Julia is now the proud owner-operator of Hollywood Showbar, a gay bar and drag venue in Manchester.[26] She and her boyfriend wish to marry.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Roger Mills". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  2. ^ Grant, Julia (25 March 2014). "Julia Grant - The Transgender Zone Interviews". YouTube (Interview: video). Interviewed by Sam Johnson. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  3. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (18 August 1994). "Television (Review) / A change isn't always as good as a rest". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  4. ^ Hunt, Leon (2008). The League of Gentlemen. British Film Institute. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-84457-269-4. OCLC 226357069. 
  5. ^ Ledward, James; Grant, Julia (17 October 2013). "Letter to Editor: Manchester Pride". Gscene. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  6. ^ "George (1979)". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  7. ^ "George - The Big Decision (1980)". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  8. ^ "Julia - The First Year (1980)". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  9. ^ "Julia - My Body, My Choice (1980)". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  10. ^ Grant, Julia (1980). George and Julia. London: New English Library. ISBN 0-450-04715-6. OCLC 64747941. 
  11. ^ "Julia Grant - George and Julia". Transgender Biography Books. 28 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-09-25. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  12. ^ a b c Grant, Julia (1994). Just Julia: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman. Boxtree. ISBN 978-1-85283-481-4. OCLC 31755479. 
  13. ^ "Julia Grant - Just Julia: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman". Transgender Biography Books. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  14. ^ a b "Julia Gets Her Man (1999)". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  15. ^ a b c Ellis, David A. "Mike Southon, BSC". In Conversation with Cinematographers. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4422-5109-0. OCLC 905801943. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  16. ^ "Inside Story, BBC Two England, 25 June 1979". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  17. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 15 October 1980". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  18. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 16 October 1980". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  19. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 17 October 1980". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  20. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 4 August 1994". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  21. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 20 July 1999". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  22. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 11 August 1994". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  23. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 27 July 1999". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  24. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 18 August 1994". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  25. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 3 August 1999". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  26. ^ Williams, Jennifer (30 April 2016). "Whatever happened to Manchester's first and only 'gay shopping centre?'". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2017-03-26. 
  27. ^ "A Change of Sex, BBC Two England, 10 August 1999". BBC Genome Project. BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]