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Glen or Glenda?

Glen or Glenda?(1953)

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After observing that humankind is most often surprised by that which is familiar to science, a scientist mixes a smoking liquid in a beaker and announces the start of a new life. The scientist's image then appears to hover over a busy city street while he remarks on people's individuality. Elsewhere in the city, police inspector Warren is called to the scene of a suicide. The deceased is a transvestite whose suicide note reveals that he killed himself following his fourth arrest for appearing in public dressed in women's clothes. Warren consults with psychoanalyst Dr. Alton, seeking advice that may help prevent another similar death. Alton explains the difference between transvestism, which involves wearing the clothes of the opposite sex, and sex change, which requires surgery to change gender, and urges public compassion. As Alton verbally explores the concept of transvestism, newspaper headlines report public reactions to sex change operations, and transvestites are seen in public and at home. He then tells the story of Glen, a transvestite whose alter ego is named Glenda: As a boy, Glen enjoyed wearing his sister's clothes, much to the chagrin of his father and sister, Sheila. Glen is now engaged to Barbara, who is unaware of his propensity for wearing women's clothes. Although Glen fears that Barbara will leave him if she knows the truth, his friend Johnny suggests he tell her before they are married. Johnny, whose wife divorced him after finding him dressed in her negligee, reminds Glen that his advice is based on his own experiences. Glen is tortured by his dilemma and experiences disturbing fantasies about the potentially disastrous consequences if he tells Barbara his secret: Barbara is shot, Barbara is felled by a tree, Barbara turns into the Devil as a crowd of people taunt a cowering Glen. Glen finally overcomes his fears and confesses his transvestism to his fiancée. Although Barbara does not fully understand, she is compassionate and offers to let him wear her angora sweater that he has admired. Alton now tells Warren that while Glen's minor problem was instigated by a loveless childhood, another case involving a man named Alan was more serious: Alan's mother had always wanted a girl, and as a child, he was drawn toward traditionally female activities. Although as an adult, Alan served in the Army during World War II, he secretly carried women's clothing in his suitcase for comfort. Alan became a decorated soldier and was honorably discharged, and while in an Army hospital recuperating from battle injuries, he learned about sex change operations. After a consultation with Alton and several specialists, it was determined that Alan was a pseudo-hermaphrodite, a person with two sex organs, one of which was not visible. Because Alan had always felt more like a woman, he opted for a sex change operation that would make him a female. Alton provided Alan guidance and education following his operation, after which Alan became Ann. Despite a great deal of unwanted publicity, Ann was grateful finally to lead a normal life. Alton now reminds Warren that there have been hundreds of similar operations, but that in Glen's case, only therapy and his wife's devotion were necessary. Glen and Barbara attend psychotherapy sessions with Alton, and in time, Glen surrenders the "character" of Glenda. After Warren wonders about the hundreds of less fortunate "Glens" in the world, the scientist reappears and echoes his concern.