Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trained in the Ways of Men

Gwen Araujo, a 17-year-old transgender female living here in the San Francisco Bay Area, was brutally murdered in October 2002 when her companions (with some of whom she had had sexual relations) discovered that she was biologically male. The four young men who were present at the time were charged in her death. The first trial of three of the defendants resulted in a hung jury, leading to a second trial. In both cases, the defendants tried to argue that the killing took place in the heat of passion following their surprise discovery, in a move called the "gay panic" or "gender panic" defense. Throughout the legal ordeal, Gwen's family steadfastly pressed for justice. Gwen's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, was a warrior of the best kind. (Guerrero is Spanish for warrior.)

This documentary chronicles the events leading to Gwen's murder, as well as the criminal trials, but it also sheds light on the legal and social issues surrounding the case, asking some passersby on the sidewalk, "Are you a man or a woman? How do you know?" Highly recommended.

Trained in the Ways of Men, dir. Shelly Prevost, 2007 USA, 102 min.

Technorati tags: Trained in the Ways of Men, Gwen Araujo, Transgender, Documentary, Frameline, Frameline31, LGBT Film

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