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‘Framing Agnes’ Film Review: Trans Artists and Academics Bring History into the Present

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st century lives, examining the ways that trans people in the US have, and haven’t, moved forward.Like Freud’s Dora, the titular Agnes is a figure whose identity is lost to history but who nonetheless made a huge impact in medical and sociological circles.

She was one of many subjects of a UCLA gender study conducted by Harold Garfinkel in the 1960s, and she became infamous in some academic circles for misleading Garfinkel and his peers about the specifics of her life so that she could meet the discriminatory standards of the time to receive gender confirmation surgery.

What some earlier researchers called duplicity, many contemporary trans activists now celebrate as an act of working an oppressive system for the sake of their own survival.Actress and filmmaker Zackary Drucker (who recently executive-produced HBO’s “The Lady and the Dale”) plays Agnes, with Joynt taking the role of Garfinkel; the director stages these interviews not in a clinical setting, but as a TV show along the lines of “The Mike Wallace Interview,” which aired from 1957 to 1960.

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