A story of love, persistence and courage – that’s what a small audience heard from Madison Kelly on 19 April 2009. Madison’s 3-year journey towards sex-reassignment surgery was documented in the film Girl Inside, by Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott, and shown at the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) 2009.
For this work, Gallus won the Best Direction prize at Canada’s Gemini Awards 2008.
The Canadian High Commission sponsored Madison Kelly’s trip to Singapore in conjunction with SIFF, and People Like Us was proud to host a casual meeting over tea and coffee between Madison and members of LGBT communities.
In the film and at the informal talk, Madison spoke of the love and support she got from her family. Her grandmother, always witty and humourous, was a pillar of strength pre-surgery. Her own brother, at first ambivalent, came around to highly supportive. And Madison eventually became the bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding.
But not everything was smooth sailing. Saving enough money for the operation was a touch-and-go affair, especially after the Ontario government pulled subsidies for sex reassignment surgery. Updating her driver’s licence with her new sex brought her into contact with a counter clerk who went out of his way to put documentary obstacles in her path and humiliate her publicly by speaking loudly so everyone could hear. In response, she plucked up the courage to call her member of parliament to get it done.
Questions came thick and fast after Madison, a self-described computer geek, gave her introductory remarks. The audience comprised a broad mix of straight, gay, lesbian and transgender, all interested to hear a remarkable story from a brave individual.