The Transgender Ballerina in “Girl” Dances Between Art and Offense

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As of January 18, a controversial film will be available for viewing on Netflix. Girl is a Belgian movie about a 15-year-old transgender girl who pursues her dream of becoming a professional ballerina.

The film was met with raves at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was the winner of awards including the Queer Palm and the Camera d’Or for Best First Film, while its star Victor Polster was recognized with the prestigious Un Certain Regard Best Actor prize. But wait: members of the trans community have shared some pointed words about the film, in that protagonist Lara attempts to cope with the multitude of stresses related to her transition through self-mutilation — and there have been objections that the lead is played by a cisgender male.

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Nora Monsecouer, whose life provided impetus for the script (although it is billed as a work of fiction) has also spoken — suggesting that those who have interpreted Girl as reflecting the perspective of its cisgender director Lukas Dhont disregards her own contribution to the collaborative storytelling. Fair warning: viewers may be traumatized by the film’s graphic depiction of the injuries sustained by the main character in the course of her own aggressive attempts to alter her genitals.

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Last modified: March 12, 2019