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From Lucas to Luus

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Film info

Title: From Lucas to Luus
Original title: Van Lucas naar Luus
Running time: 18 min.
Director: Charlotte Hoogakker
Country of origin: The Netherlands, 2005
Language: Dutch spoken
Genre: Documentary
Suggested age group: 8 - 10 years

Synopsis

Luus was born as Lucas, a boy. But in his mind he’s really a girl. What next? How do you become a girl and what’s it like to still be a boy anyway? Are you allowed in the girls’ changing room or do you have to join the boys? What about when you go swimming? Luus shows us, and explains everything by replying to her school friends’ questions.

Main themes

Breaking down barriers – fighting for rights
Gender dysphoria
Identity
Family
Peer relations

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Background

Given that trans issues are rarely talked about we offer some basic ideas.

Masculinity and femininity are not binary
The accepted behaviours and constructs of masculinity and femininity change due to time, geography and class. Where we promulgate specific roles for men and women and impose them, we support the foundations of homophobia and transphobia as we only recognise and give validity to certain behaviours of men and women.
So when some people challenge those roles - blur the lines, other people can get scared and try to force them back into behaviour and roles that they are comfortable with and sometimes they do that with abuse and violence.

How people express their gender is dependent on a variety of factors such as where they live, where they work, and how much money and power they have.
If you look on a train in London in the 21st century at a carriage full of people you will see a wide variety of expression in the presentation of masculinity and femininity through clothes and behaviour. There may be women in short skirts and high heels, women in jeans and flat comfortable shoes and women in headscarfs or burkas. There will be men in sombre suits and short hair, men in manual work gear and boots, men with long hair and men in long robes with caps.
Check out the same people’s wardrobes and you may be surprised: the women in jeans and flat shoes may also own flowery dresses and make up; the high heeled short skirted woman may also own trouser suits; the manual worker may have very colourful tight trousers; and the sombre suited man may have dresses and wigs at home that he enjoys wearing. The wearer of the headscarf, robe and burka may well have a variety of western dress of many different styles connected with both genders. It is clear then that the choice is not either or. Yet when we look at the books about sex and gender in our schools they too often present a simple binary picture.

How does gender stereotyping support homophobia?
When we allow statements, images or stories that reinforce stereotypes of men and women, we encourage narrow thinking about men and women; and usually those stereotypes reinforce negative constructs of men or maleness or women or femaleness.
Thus they encourage people to narrow their own possibilities of how they might inhabit their gender and encourage pejorative attitudes to those who challenge those constructs.

How can we challenge gender stereotypes?
If in a mixed school make sure you do not choose groups or sort learners based on gender. This is a sure fire way to reinforce stereotypes and attitudes.
In the same way ensure all your books and images reflect the diversity of ethnicity of the country and also show women and men behaving in a wide variety of ways. You should also ensure that they reflect diverse ethnicity; so, if you are showing women doing long distance lorry driving, make sure that they are not all white and able bodied!

Ensure that any sexist remark and/or attitude is challenged appropriately and educate students on why the school does not accept it.
Educate people on language, encourage as much as possible the use of neutral inclusive gender words - chair person not chair man, staff an event not man it. Use their instead of his and hers.

The Rainbow classroom wants to be a place where gender is explored as something that is on a continuum and gives students a chance to find out how they wish to inhabit their gender.

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Activities

A. Before the film: Introduction  
  Exercise 1 I am what I am pairs
B. Showing the film  
C. After the film:  
  Exercise 2 First impressions together
  Exercise 3 Friends together
  Exercise 4 What? individual

A: Before the film
Exercise 1: I am what I am (gender dysphoria)

Explain to the pupils that not everybody is born as a boy or a girl, biological gender is quite complex. And not every boy feels being a boy is right for him, or every girl feels she belongs as a girl. Sometimes someone looks like a boy, but feels like a girl, like the main character in this movie. Lucas explains that she was born a boy, but her brain told her: you are a girl! Her parents found information on the internet about gender dysphoria. Now Lucas is called Luus: a girl. This film starts with the song: ‘I am what I am’. Lucas starts as boy and now is a girl. In the film we do see a lot of photos of Lucas becoming Luus.

What are you?
How do you feel?
Ask the pupils to bring several photos of themselves growing up through the years. See how you changed.

 

C: After the film
Exercise 2: First impressions

To gauge the pupils’ first impressions you might use four headings:

THE FILM MAKES ME…
KEY MOMENTS
VISUAL ASPECTS
QUESTIONS

Give the students some time to write down their findings on the blackboard or flipcharts. You may need to explain the keywords briefly.

THE FILM MAKES ME
Under this first heading they list the emotions they felt whilst watching the film. These can be content related, but also feelings of approval or disapproval.

KEY MOMENTS
Under the second heading they list any moments out of the film that appealed to them; moments they remember; moments that touched them.

VISUAL ASPECTS
The third heading is used to note down all technical aspects they noticed during the viewing; things about the camerawork, sound, music, colour, lighting, acting and so forth.

QUESTIONS
Under the item ‘questions’ the pupils can formulate all kinds of questions about things they didn’t understand including content, characters, setting, dialogue, storyline…

After this exercise you have a picture of what are the live issues for the group: the key scenes, some important visual aspects and posed questions, any of which may provide a good starting point for further discussion.

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Exercise 3: Friends (reactions of peers)

For Luus it is very important how her friends react. She feels supported by her parents and also by her friends, both girls and boys. Her friends are very important. At primary school she can be herself. She is one of the girls and one of the boys. But she is also afraid about bullying and visiting the secondary school.

How safe do you feel your school to be?
Do you bully?
Are you being bullied?
Is it possible to be openly different?
Is there an anti-bullying policy?
Is there an open minded atmosphere?
Is everyone able to be themselves?

 

Exercise 4: What? (Questions of peers)

In this film, several friends ask Luus all kind of questions. How was this for you, and how do you feel about that?
Luus answers all the questions. Her friends are curious and really interested in Luus’ development.
Write down some different questions, which you would like to ask other people: friends, parents, neighbours, brothers, sisters, grandparents, teachers, councillors, and politicians.
What would you like to know?
What are you are curious about?
What are you interested in?
Try asking those people these questions.