'The Danish Girl': A Review And The Importance Of Transgender Visibility

'The Danish Girl': A Review And The Importance Of Transgender Visibility

This movie has helped make history.
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"The Danish Girl" tells the story of Lili Elbe (born as Einar Wegener), the first woman to undergo male-to-female sex reassignment surgery in 1931. The film focuses on Lili’s relationship with her wife, Gerda Wegener. However, it is important to note that the film is based on the fictional book "The Danish Girl," written by David Ebershoff in 2000; so even though the characters are real people and the events are fairly accurate, some of the characterization is fictional. For more factual information, one can read Man Into Woman: The First Sex Change, which compiles Lili’s own letters and writings.

The real stories of Lili and Gerda are fascinating, and hopefully the film inspires others to research further. Lili lived during a time where there was no word for what she was going through, so she was labeled hysteric or homosexual. Lili’s endurance to be herself in a culture that could not understand her and her doctor’s persistence in performing the first sex reassignment surgery paved the way for future research and a much more comprehensive understanding of sex and gender. Screened at the White House, "The Danish Girl" shows that transgender history is an important part of American history.

The film is aesthetically beautiful and encapsulates the image of two artists; even the house is a recreation of a painting. The two leads are wonderful, but that goes without saying. The film is emotional without pandering for a cheap cry and it treats all characters with as much dignity as possible; Lili is delicate but not weak, and Gerda is never passive in her relationship or career.

There has been criticism about casting the cisgender Eddie Redmayne as Lili. Since many transgender actors and actresses struggle to find parts and hiring men to play women reinforces the perception of transgender women as truly masculine individuals, criticism is justified. However, since the film focuses on Lili pre-transition and spends a significant time depicting Redmayne as Einar, the casting makes sense. (It is almost like casting Laverne Cox’s twin brother as Sophia pre-transition on "Orange is the New Black.") Nevertheless, transgender visibility is important, and a transgender actress plays one of Lili’s nurses; it is a small role, but there is some authentic representation.

Representation and positive portrayals of minorities in popular culture is key to widespread acceptance. For instance, seeing gay characters as a commonplace on television normalizes it, and viewers see LGBTQA+ individuals as relatable and human just like everyone else. Even though the fight is definitely unfinished, advocates for the gay rights movement have made great progress over the years, from repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to federalizing marriage equality in all fifty US states. Recently, there have been many more transgender characters in television and movies, such as Sophia in "Orange is the New Black," Unique from "Glee" and now Lili from "The Danish Girl."

For a long time, the ‘T’ in LGBTQA+ fell to the background; however, now is its moment. One of the biggest problems in gaining acceptance in a society is simply misunderstanding and an assumed inability to relate. Although a cis person will never truly understand and fully empathize with the daily struggles of transgender individuals, watching movies and television shows that explicitly spell them out definitely helps. Both cis and transgender viewers can relate and feel for the characters, but most importantly, transgender individuals can use popular characters as a way to explain to others what they are going through.

Transgender rights has rightfully reached the mainstream, and gaining both societal and legal acceptance is a priority. Rebecca Root, the transgender actress who plays one of Lili’s nurses, optimistically predicts, “I think this will probably be one of the last high-profile transgender roles going to a cisgender actor. As more of us come up through the ranks, the more likely it will be we’ll take these roles.” Hopefully her predictions will come to fruition in the near future and transgender individuals will see more representation in popular culture. Hopefully The Danish Girl, or any other accurate portrayal of transgender individuals, helps someone understand and empathize a little more. Transgender rights is at the forefront of the U.S. right now, and considering its nominations and mainstream release, "The Danish Girl" and the history behind it is definitely a significant part of history.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Supporting Late-Term Abortion Is Actually The Opposite Of Feminism

Feminism is about gender equality and women supporting women- so shouldn't we support the unborn women of tomorrow?

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Before you read this, if you are someone who feels strongly that abortions are the "right" choice and that supporting late-term abortions is a step for woman anywhere, I do not suggest you read this article. However, I do want to write that I support conditional abortions- situations where the birth can kill the mother or where conception occurred because of rape. If someone rapes you, that is not okay by any means, and a baby conceived of rape can be terminated by the mother to avoid PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and any other mental health diagnoses. Of course, if a woman can bring a baby into the world to keep or give up for adoption, even if it was the product of rape, she should seek life for the innocent child rather than death. And what a rape victim chooses to do is neither here nor there- and it damn well is not anyone else's business.

So why should it be my business (or anyone's) if women have late-term abortions? Agreeing to murder out of convenience should not be societally accepted as okay. When the law passed in New York for late-term abortions, I did not picture 39-week pregnant women rushing to Planned Parenthood to abort their child because they got cold feet. I highly doubt that is the exact scenario for which the law went into effect for, and that was more so intended for women who did not realize they were pregnant and missed the time period to get a legal abortion.

Not that I support early-term abortion, because all abortion is the same regardless of when it happens during the pregnancy. Killing someone sooner rather than later does not make it less worse.

Excuses about how women are not ready to be mothers, do not have the financial means, would ruin their futures, they would get kicked out, lose their bodies, etc. are just that- excuses. Carrying a child for nine months might be an inconvenience, but killing someone will be on your conscience forever. If murders pleaded their motives to police as a way to justify what they did (excluding self-defense), what difference is it if a woman kills her unborn child?

Planned Parenthood might be taboo and have a stigma attached to it, but it does so much more than kill babies. Planned Parenthood is a place where girls can go to see OB/GYNO, get birth control, and learn about safe sex, protection, STDs, etc. Instead of stigmatizing it, young women should be encouraged to go to this institution for woman and feminism. Let high school health classes plan field trips there so that everyone becomes more educated on female health (boys included!). Female health education is very limited, especially in school, and many women feel that an abortion is their only way out, however, it's not. By becoming more educated, the rate of teen pregnancies can go down, as well as the need for abortions. Women educating other women should be the goal of Planned Parenthood, and abortions should be reserved for those who got raped or whose pregnancy cause death, health complications, etc.

Abortion might be giving women a choice- but who is giving the unborn babies a choice?

And of course the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is abstinence, and if that is your choice then good for you, and if you choose to have sexual intercourse, good for you too. Be safe. No slut shaming here. Women need to continue supporting other women, regardless of their sex life. Women who have abortions are not "whores" and should not be labeled as such- they are just people whose biology reacted to another person's biology.

If you truly do not want to have a baby, please please please give it up for adoption and do not kill it. It did nothing wrong, and yeah, it might be a little inconvenient to be pregnant, especially if you are in school, but there are hundreds of thousands of people that would love nothing more than to raise your baby. Be a woman supporting other woman and give the gift of motherhood.

If you take away anything from this article it's this:



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