Citizen Jane Review: Orchids: My Intersex Adventure

Plays at 2:15 p.m. Sunday at Ragtag Big Theatre.

“Orchids” is not a light film. It’s not an “Elf” type of movie in which everyone sings and smiles and embraces the greatness of the world. In fact, it’s quite sad — depressing, really. Most of all, though, it’s necessary.

Filmmaker Phoebe Hart first realized she was different when she hit puberty and was told that she would never get her first period. However, it wasn’t until much later that she learned the really shocking news: she was a hermaphrodite. When she was 17, her family told her that she had androgen insensitivity syndrome, meaning that she would never menstruate or have children because she was born with male chromosomes.

Hart’s feelings of confusion, anger and loneliness piled up over the years, and it wasn’t until recently that she had the courage to show the world her story on film. Phoebe and her sister, Bonnie (who also has AIS), chronicle their trip through Australia, meeting others with similar conditions. The sisters' happy-go-lucky personalities and senses of humor despite knowing the gravity of what they both had gone through are inspirational.

The story of a hermaphrodite may not be one that the public begs to see, but it is certainly one everyone should understand. Everyone has felt alone or different at some point or another, but "Orchids" emphasizes the idea that you are not alone. Even in extreme cases like Hart’s, it is never too late to reach out and find support groups of people going through the exact same problems, whatever they may be. “Orchids” did a very good job of displaying this message and showing just how hard life can be with such a grand and misunderstood disorder. Audiences shouldn’t expect a scientific explanation to every part of the disease, but more of a personable and relatable tale about a topic most people are uneducated about. All in all, “Orchids” is a must-see.

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