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“Brian or Brenda?” talks about the search for identity as a trans person

The play discusses gender identity by telling, with fictional freedom, the case of David Reimer

The play “Brian or Brenda?” promotes a discussion about gender identity by telling, with fictional freedom, the controversial case of David Reimer. The show, directed by Yara de Novaes and Carlos Gradim, has a new popular season at Teatro Itália Bandeirantes, in São Paulo, until May 26th.

In 1965, twins Brian and Bruce were born, who underwent phimosis surgery at 8 months old. During this procedure, Brian’s penis is accidentally cauterized. Astonished, the parents seek out psychiatrist John Money, who defends the thesis that babies would be born neutral and have their gender defined by upbringing. He advises the family to give Brian a sexual reassignment operation and to raise him as a girl.

The child is now called Brenda. The result is a girl who grows up unhappy in a body that isn’t hers and, while still a teenager, tries to kill herself. The parents decide to tell the truth and, then, Brenda decides to go in search of the real identity that she never stopped having.

Known as one of the most controversial cases in psychiatry, the violence suffered by David Reimer is used by researchers and institutions around the world to encourage discussion about gender identity. Conservative groups argue that this is an example that a person biologically born male will always identify as a man. Gender theorists argue that the suffering caused by the attempt to impose an identity on David is the same suffering that transgender people go through in a conservative society that tries to impose its standards.

The performance mixes real and fictional facts to propose a reflection on gender and the right to each person’s choices and desires, as well as the limits of medical and psychiatric treatments. The group makes a point of emphasizing respect for different identities, even putting the agenda in David’s mouth. At the end of the plot, for example, when questioned in an interview, he states that he is not against sexual reassignment surgery, if this is a desire of a person who feels in the wrong body, contrasting this possibility with what happened.

Brian or Brenda?, by Franz Keppler

Age rating: 14 years old

Duration: 80 minutes

Paulo Eiró Theater

Teatro Itália Bandeirantes

Address: Av. Ipiranga, 344, República

When: until May 26th, on Fridays and Saturdays, at 8pm, and on Sundays, at 7pm

Tickets: R$40 (full price) and R$20 (half price)

Online sales at Sympla

Ticket office opens two hours before the event

Accessibility: theater accessible to wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility

Source: Maxima

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