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Why the Trans Film Girl Enrages People

Why the Trans Film 'Girl' Enrages People

Trans woman Jessie "Gender" Earl breaks down the controversy surrounding the Netflix film. 

This video contains spoilers.

The award-winning film Girl follows Lara, a 15-year-old pursuing her dream of becoming a ballerina while preparing for gender-confirmation surgery. The drama is the official Oscar entry for Belgium and was recently released on Netflix to mixed reviews from the LGBTQ community.

Some writers see the film as a "dangerous" depiction, while other trans activists applaud it. The fact that director Lukas Dhont and lead actor Victor Polster are both cisgender men portraying a story about a trans woman has drawn criticism. But Ann Thomas of Transgender Talent Agency offers the cultural context that a film made in Belgium and required to hire Belgian talent faced significant challenges in finding a young, openly trans actress who also had the advanced ballet skills that the lead character needed. In this case, she said, "no role was stolen from a trans actor." The film has also been rebuked for portraying violent self-harm caused by gender dysphoria, which has led some commentators to discourage people from seeing it. Nora Monsecour, the dancer on whom the film is based, defended it. "Those criticizing Girl are preventing another trans story from being shared in the world, and are also attempting to silence me and my trans identity," she said, adding, "To argue that Lara's experience as trans is not valid because Lukas is cis or because we have a cis lead actor offends me."

Jessie "Gender" Earl breaks down the various sides of the controversy and also explains how a "cisgender gaze" plays into the work. Watch Girl on Netflix in this spring.

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