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By Imani Williams
I attended Reel Pride’s showing of ‘The Cookie Project’ Jan. 31 and was blown away by the directing talents of sista lesbian Stephanie Wynne. I showed up to the viewing with an open mind. I didn’t know quite what to expect regarding the screen’s disclaimer about the 20 minutes of ‘real life’ sexual reassignment surgery featured in the film. I’ve peeked at books with before/after pictures and even talked to some people who were contemplating surgery and have met two F to M’s and talked to them in depth about their surgeries, but nothing prepares you for watching the surgery performed.
Wow! That was all I could say as the movie audience followed along side Director Stephanie and the good doctor performing Cookie’s surgery in Thailand. As he nipped and tucked and cut and sliced I was reaching for the morphine button myself to ease the pain.
Documentary subject Derwin Fields, now known as ‘Cookie,’ seemed prepared for the ordeal. I appreciated her candor and willingness to share who she was for the camera and the world. A Marine who gave 20 years of service turned LAPD in a heterosexual marriage and father of two teenagers now self ID’s as a transsexual lesbian. I felt pride, and was high off of Cookie’s strength to take care of business for her family as a black man on a daily basis and yet stay true to herself.
I have about 54 questions for Stephanie and Cookie. I appreciate Stephanie for having a curiosity and feel for a good storyline that deserves to be told. She and Cookie worked together for three years to get the story told. That’s a lot of sharing and a lot of intimacy. Viewers saw Cookie in the raw pre and post op.
I wondered how many people who start out in your corner are there for the long haul? The mental challenges to prepare for sexual reassignment surgery must be great. Cookie’s son was 18 when the surgery was done. He’s a big guy, typical hip hop gear, and yet he and sister both expressed love for their dad. Cookie’s daughter was 16 and the support and love for her dad spoke volumes through her testimony.
Cookie and her girlfriend seem to know what works for them. I think it’s a wonderful thing. Cookie still dons a uniform in the morning going to work for the LAPD and when she comes in from work she puts on her femme play clothes and does her thing.
I admit throughout the entire movie the real question in my mind was, will her vagina look and feel like the real thing? I must say Stephanie didn’t hold back on the shots and viewers were able to get a good feel ‘visually’ – work with me here – for the surgeon’s steady hand. The swelling took about six months to go down. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest kitty kat – immediately following surgery it was down right scary looking, but after six months Cookie carried a pretty nice looking pocket book. As for the feel, Cookie’s girlfriend seems most pleased with everything from wetness and texture to taste.
Made me kind of feel warm and fuzzy all over. I’m sure there were some days that were anxiety filled along the way but Cookie seemed to come out on top in the end. Thanks again to both Cookie for sharing so much of her intimate and personal life with the world and Director Stephanie Wynne for following up on what she felt was a very interesting storyline.