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‘The Life of Edith Surreal’ documentary transcends pro wrestling

IWTV’s ‘The Life of Edith Surreal’ gives wrestling fans an inside look at trans pro wrestler Edith Surreal and her transition.

Edith Surreal
Edith Surreal after winning the Cassandro Cup
JayLee Photography/@JayLeeAC

Edith Surreal (Edie for short) is an amazing pro wrestler. She has proven that fact time after time this year alone with technical clashes against Lee Moriarty and Devon Monroe, weapon-laden thrashes with Masha Slamovich and EFFY and defeating Ashton Starr to win the inaugural Cassandro Cup tournament.

But her most recent project delivers a different kind of impact, one that doesn’t require her to step between the ropes yet still speaks to every wrestling fan.

Edith Surreal is the latest subject of Independent Wrestling TV’s (IWTV) monthly docuseries “The Life of…” and her appearance speaks a language that goes beyond pro wrestling, even for a series meant to showcase the identities of popular independent pro wrestlers beyond what we see in the ring.

Edith Surreal is a trans woman whose pro wrestling career has been defined just as much, if not more, by evolution and transition as any in-ring physicality. Beginning her professional wrestling life as Still Life with Apricots and Pears, Edie provided visual representation to multiple facets of the LGBTQ community as her in-ring transition paralleled that of her gender identity.

In that way, her transition unfolded before fans’ eyes.

The Life of Edith Surreal” is a moment born from that approach but leaps forward to a new level of vulnerability for “The Exhibition of Intrigue;” a level that places the occurrences of daily life unique to trans individuals front and center.

“Being trans is part of my identity,” Surreal said on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring. “I’d love to live my life just being, where it’s not something I have to focus on or isn’t this major part of my life. But it is a major part, so I had to speak about it.”

The trailer for the episode alone included moments relating to the trans experience that many, including myself, would never have imagined seeing in a pro wrestling related context until very recently.

Outsports also has an exclusive outtake from the episode, in which Surreal talks about changing her wrestling name now that she is transitioning.

Edie and trans pro wrestling icon Dark Sheik discuss the process of changing their gender markers and names on government documents. Edie brings viewers along for her laser hair removal treatment. There is open discussion about facial feminization surgery and gender dysphoria.

Edie even sits viewers down for an open discussion of her hormone replacement treatment, including doing her estrogen injection on camera. The moment is awesome for the ground that it breaks, but it represents so much more.

“That is such an important moment,” Surreal said. “At that time, I was fairly new to injections. I had just switched over to injectable estrogen, and I’m not good at it. It’s hard to inject yourself. I’m not doing it totally right and it is really painful. I share that because it’s part of it. I have to share that.”

Just as important, though, the episode provides heartwarming moments of gender affirmation, euphoria and experiences with fellow wrestlers Dark Sheik, Solo Darling and Willow Nightingale that show the impact of positive support.

Pulling the mask off of those kinds of moments intimate to the trans experience was personally important for Edie to do. Not just because frank discussions about gender and transition aren’t visible within pro wrestling, but also that journeys like hers and so many other trans people aren’t regularly present in media as a whole.

Edith Surreal
Edith Surreal
JayLee Photography/@JayLeeAC

“You don’t really often get to see the process of transitioning. That’s not something that is all that common in what little ground trans identities cover in general media,” Surreal said. “Usually you see people like Laverne Cox or whoever on the cover of Time Magazine. It’s hard to say when someone is finished transitioning, but you see the end result of a transition.

“I wanted to share a little bit about that. It is hard and physically painful. It sucks. It hurts … I want people to know what goes into this, that it isn’t just this whim where you paint your nails and change your gender. It’s a whole thing and there is a lot to it. I want people to know that, because people don’t know the whole process. That’s my responsibility that I feel: to share the journey.”

Filming of the episode also occurred as Edie transitioned her wrestling persona from Still Life with Apricots and Pears to Edith Surreal. That process may be more familiar to pro wrestling fans, but it also provides a first step to understanding Edie’s gender transition in a language they understand.

“My favorite aspect of pro wrestling is storytelling, and this was an important one to tell,” Gerard Durling, IWTV president, told Outsports. “As a wrestling fan, you get to see how Edith Surreal was created and seeing how a wrestler is created from start to finish is not often something we get to see.”

Edith Surreal
Edith Surreal at IWTV Family Reunion
IWTV

“A lot of wrestlers tend to pull from aspects of their real lives to create their wrestling personas. Some dig deeper than others, and, in the case of Edith, it helped give her much more than that,” Durling added. “I do hope it does open the eyes of those that don’t get to engage with the LGBTQ community in their daily lives.”

That ability to open the eyes of viewers who don’t regularly interact with trans communities is also a strong motivation for Edie.

“I hope I’m a good introduction to what queer people and trans people are like. We’re just like everybody else,” Surreal chuckled.

“One thing I did want to come across is, if you have a friend who is trans, how do you act around them? What do you do to make them feel safe, welcomed and loved? I think that is something that’s really apparent with my friendships with Solo and Willow. I can just be. I don’t have to think about it. I hope that’s one thing people can pick up from it … it’s just one piece of who I am.”

For Durling, telling Surreal’s story is incredibly meaningful.

“I’ve said since watching the initial draft of ‘The Life of Edith Surreal’ that this story feels bigger than pro wrestling,” Durling said. “In my opinion, it’s the most important story we’ve ever shared.”

“The Life of Edith Surreal” is available on-demand starting June 1, on IWTV. Fans can join Edith Surreal for a watch party of the episode on IWTV June 1 at 8pm ET.