Girl, a Belgian drama directed by Lukas Dhont, is causing a lot of controversy. The film is currently streaming on Netflix.
The story follows 15-year-old Lola, a trans girl studying at a prestigious Belgian dance academy. While training as a ballerina, she is also in the process of getting gender reassignment surgery (GRS).
The film was selected as the Belgian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Still, members of the LGBTI community are unhappy with its depiction of the trans experience.
Criticism of Girl
‘Unfortunately, the film, which already won the Camera d’Or at Cannes for best first feature film, does little to explore the inner psychology of a trans adolescent and focuses much more on the physical,’ writes Mathew Rodriguez for IntoMore.
‘The film takes its cues from Black Swan and often feels like a horror film that conflates two journeys: the journey of becoming a ballerina — an unrealistic, idealized form of feminine beauty — with the journey of being transgender.’
‘Put simply: the film is bloody and obsessed with trans bodies in a way that reminds us that a cisgender person wrote and directed it. It’s trans trauma porn and, as a cisgender person, I’m warning trans people not to watch it and cis people not to fall for it.’
One main criticism is that, like many films about trans people, the main character is played by a cis male (Victor Polster).
The film’s director was vocal about his ‘gender-blind’ casting process. Regardless, many take issue with the film being exclusively written by, directed by, and starring cis people.
‘The film is birthed wholly from the mind of a cis person and employs only cis fascination with trans bodies to tell its story,’ Rodriguez says.
People on Twitter tend to agree with Rodriguez’s take.
So, do I watch Girl because I think flat, transphobic depictions of trans people are necessary to confront in my research, or do I not because Netflix uses views as a metric for success?
— Ghoulia 👻 Ftacek (@JuliaFtacek) October 6, 2018
just a warning for my trans siblings: theres a movie on netflix called Girl and it is said to be an horrible and traumatic experience for trans people, i myself just read a review and im feeling HORRIBLE… be careful out there ily!!!
— hal(lou)ween 🎃🦇🕸 (@qaydog) October 6, 2018
Stop letting cis people make movies abt trans people and also dont watch Girl on netflix
— thundersnacker (@mouse_dad) October 6, 2018
If you’re trans, dont watch the movie Girl (I’m pretty sure it’s a Netflix movie)!!!
It’s sick/creepy, fetishizes trans bodies, unrealistic, and contains several triggering scenes! Pls avoid this movie!
— 🦇gee misses parx🦇 (@gloomygee) October 6, 2018
Can someone @netflix do a 5 minute google search before taking movies like Girl. trans ppl have done so much work to show how these movies put trans women in physical danger, casting men as women, fetishizing them & perpetuating the ideology that trans women are men
— ☕️ chief hallowqueef (@chiefqqueef) October 5, 2018
-don’t give this garbage movie your views
-write to @netflix. tell them how unacceptable it is to give money and space to a movie that has a trans teen girl (on puberty blockers and hormones!) played by a cis boy, to fetishize her genitals, to gory horror of our lives
— Good Girl Energy (@Azure_Husky) October 5, 2018
Backlash over the film Girl comes just months after Netflix received criticism for homophobic and fatphobic show Insatiable. More recently, the Netflix show Sierra Burgess Is A Loser has also seen negative reactions. Like Insatiable, people dislike its themes of homophobia and transphobia.