Bubot Niyar

Paper Dolls
When the second Intifada began, Israel closed its borders to workers from Palestinian territories who, during the previous years had taken on all the worst-paid jobs in the land. Just as in many industrialised countries, in Israel tasks such as housework or caring for the elderly are often delegated to foreign workers. Israel’s policy left a big hole in the job market, and so the Israeli authorities began to encourage workers from other parts of the world to emigrate to Israel to fill the new vacancies.
Among those who answered the call were Philippine transsexuals. Like other émigrés before them, they decided to leave their homeland in search of a better life. Some had been cast out of their families on account of their sexual orientation. They find work in Israel. Their new jobs are by no means easy; in fact, they are often very demanding, both physically and mentally. They work, often round the clock, looking after elderly, orthodox Jewish men, who often come to look on them as substitute children. Many of these carers develop warm, personal relationships to their employees, whose daily lives they share, and whom they often feed and wash.
One evening during the week they enjoy a night off. This is when they are free to live out their personal dreams, appearing as drag queens in Tel Aviv. “Paper Dolls” is the name of their ensemble that could not possibly appear in public back home in the Philippines as they do here. But although the troupe’s members enjoy Israel’s liberal atmosphere, they are still outsiders and are always treated as such.
by Tomer Heymann
with Alex Claude
Israel / Switzerland 2005 80’

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