What Makes a Woman? review: a provocative look at gender and what it means to be female

After the well-intentioned muddle of Genderquake, and, in particular, the ill-tempered debate that followed, Channel 4 went some way to redeeming itself with the thoughtful and fascinating What Makes a Woman? which followed transgender model, presenter and activist Munroe Bergdorf as she underwent facial reconstruction surgery before picking her way through the increasingly contentious debate as to whether womanhood is defined by gender or identity.

“I do realise some people will think that by having this surgery I’m conforming to a very typical idea of femininity,” admitted Bergdorf. “But I want it not for society but for me.” Afterwards she referred to the event as “truly life-changing” and, as the programme progressed, it was clear that the complicated surgery, which, bravely, was shown in part on screen, had done wonders for her sense of self.

Likeable and charismatic, Bergdorf has run into trouble in the past thanks to her outspoken views on Twitter. She addressed those issues here, stressing that she had learnt from her mistakes and noting that she had been a very different person when she posted them.


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