I saw A Fantastic Woman yesterday. Even with the magical-realism bits here and there, it was the most realistic big-screen film about how most straight people treat us trans women that I have ever seen. Daniela Vega was so involved in creating the story–she was originally hired by the producers as a consultant on transgender culture–that a real transgender sensibility comes through.
The hateful things said to her and the brief scene where Orlando’s family physically attacks her even a cisgender person would register, but I picked up on a lot that would probably be lost on a non-trans person watching it.
I winced in sympathy with her fear at one point when a cop asked for her ID (cisgender people don’t know that cops not infrequently assault us) and when her employer, who didn’t seem to know she’s trans, was sniffing around in a way that would have scared anyone in stealth to death. I’m not sure that a cisgender person would know that Bad Things Happen When We Get Clocked which is why we are often extremely reluctant to share any information at all. It becomes a habit. In the film, Marina follows that pattern, which gets read by some cisgender characters in the film as an indication that she must be up to something criminal.
Unlike most American movies, A Fantastic Woman doesn’t have the built-in assumption that the audience is stupid and has to have everything spelled out. The film does end on a note of optimism that things are going to get better, but it’s a rough ride to get there.
I am very impressed!!!