"New York Film Review: ‘Born to Be’" - Owen Gleiberman
In “Born to Be,” Tania Cypriano’s moving and fascinatingly forward-looking documentary about the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery we meet a handful of eager, at times desperate folks who are engaged in the existential medical conundrum of doing everything they can to become the people they are. One of them, Mahogany Phillips, is getting surgery to reduce the downward-sloping masculine curve of her forehead. The physician who’s working with her, Jess Ting, MD, surgical director of Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery explains that he’s going to drastically cut back the bone — which may give you a queasy shudder, since the bone he’s talking about encases that thing called the brain. Dr. Ting is the film’s central figure — the energetic, light-spirited motor of this clinic, a charismatic physician with an idiosyncratic background. He started off as a double bass player at Juilliard (he still plays in his apartment, and is clearly a master musician), but he fell out of that world and into science; until a year and a half before the film was made, he had never even done trans surgery. Yet he’s now a man with a mission, and his impish personality is part of it — the way he eases patients’ fears and leads them to feel good about their choices. As much as any doctor, he has to be a kind of therapist.
— Jess Ting, MD, Surgical Director, Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, Assistant Professor, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai