I’d heard some of the criticism of Girl, that it focused too much on the trans body and placed too much emphasis on medical transition. Then I saw it, and boy howdy! Does it ever. I mean, wow. Yeah, not difficult to see why folks had problem with it.
This is very much a trans story told through a cis lens. There’s even an element of gawking in much of the camera work, and it does feel very objectifying, which works against its central drive. I mean, you see her genitalia so many times, you see her put on or take off her tuck tape so many times, you see her morning glory. A lot of the shots having the feeling of the cis gaze looking in on the trans experience.
And it’s almost every third scene. You can almost count off every scene in this order: transition scene, ballet scene, family scene, transition scene, ballet scene, family scene. Just same content round and round.
I feel the director really did intend to develop a three-dimensional trans girl as the main character but where are her friends? This teenage trans lassie doesn’t know a single other queer person. In a major city. Doesn’t have a single conversation with a queer person online or engage with any community space. Who ever heard of that? This is so a cis idea about the life of the one trans person you know.
And I genuinely do feel the director came to this movie with good intentions, but its portrayal of the trans experience is that it is isolating, lonely and sad. In many ways, it’s a big step backward from the more diverse storytelling about a range of experience we’ve seen in recent years.
I’m not saying don’t go see it, because it is a worthwhile film in many ways, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself cringing at some of the shots.