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Jordanian Filmmaker Tracks a Transgender's Recovery

in JORDAN, 07/07/2013

Maryam Jum'a, a 26-year-old Jordanian filmmaker, says she has no end of subject matter. Currently, she is working on a film about a 32-year-old woman diagnosed with gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder, when there's a conflict between a person's physical gender and the gender he or she identifies as. The woman at the center of the film, Manal, has mustered the courage to speak out publicly in hopes that her story will prevent or alleviate others' suffering.

For 26-year-old Maryam Jum'a, the story she found in the files of Jordan's National Commission for Women was too compelling to ignore. She hopes it will help humanize an issue that many in the conservative society still treat as off-limits.

"There are so many untold stories around me about people who don't conform to societal expectations. We in the Arab world tend to sugarcoat things, but I want to present these stories in the raw, without filter," said Jum'a in an interview at a cafe here. She believes that doing so will humanize victims of social discrimination and eventually push society toward greater openness and inclusivity.

Raised in Amman, Jum'a graduated in 2008 from the University of Kent in England with a Bachelor of Science in multimedia technology and design. Upon graduation and her return to Jordan, she joined the Royal Film Commission and directed her first short documentary. Then, following a stint as a producer at an international advertising agency in Amman, she quit her job to devote more time to "telling stories that matter." She now freelances as a corporate filmmaker in addition to pursuing her independent film projects. While her films grapple with myriad social issues, Jum'a strives primarily to portray dynamic Arab women in a way that dispels stereotypes of weakness and oppression.

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