In 2014, the sentimental and inspiring, Boy Meets Girl, did just that for me.
Framed in a somnambulant, rural, Kentucky town, Boy Meets Girl is a delightful, coming-of-gender and thwarted-love, love story. Rickey(Michelle Hendley) and Robby(Michael Welch), best friends since they were in 1st grade, court a journey of self-discovery that challenges the sine qua non of their relationship.
Rickey is a transgender female, and aspiring fashion designer, with a hopeful self-confidence. Rickey defends herself with acerbic remarks, aimed at hurting those who offend her. Conversely, she balances her crass personality with clever humor and affection toward those who are supportive.
A beautiful example is when Francesca’s mother Helen(Elizabeth Ward Land) says, “Transgender just sounds so ugly. You’d be better off just telling everybody you have a birth defect.” To which Rickey replies, “Thank you, Helen. Sage words indeed. Is that what you tell people is your excuse?”
Robby is a pragmatic 20-something, with an effeminate demeanor that challenges his engendered masculinity. Robby has supported Rickey, unconditionally, since they were 6 years old. He, also, shields his feelings for Rickey, from himself. That is until a pivotal moment where he’s forced to acknowledge he loves her. Any more than that would be a spoiler, so….
Right from beginning, gender and social barriers set and challenged when Francesca(Alexandra Turshen) walks into the coffee shop Rickey works at. The two flirt, and when Francesca is “told” Rickey is transgender, she clearly doesn’t get it, but also is intrigued. They get close and share an intimate, experimental moment.
David(Michael Galante), Francesca’s fiancee, is the archetypical masculine character in this film. A stalwart marine, defensively bigoted and discriminatory. He verbally chastises Francesca and physically threatens Rickey. At one point, he is choked into submission, offending his uber masculinity.
Self-discovery is key theme each character acknowledges and ignores throughout the movie. A big moment comes between Robby and Rickey where he tells her she isn’t anything, not a boy or a girl. The emotional tension is electric and beautifully portrayed.
YOU ARE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY, SWEET BOY. SHE WOULD’VE SAID SWEET GIRL IF SHE COULD OF.
Rickey’s conviction that she was a girl in a boy’s body is so convincing, and her courage to live her life with dignity so uplifting, her story almost feels biographical. Watching Michelle’s performance, and reading her bio, there is arguable truth to this. At one point, Hank(Randall Newsome)Rickey’s father, says, “That kid of mine has been throwing me curve balls my whole life. But luckily, I played baseball.” This is actually a direct quote from Michelle Hendley’s real dad. Life imitating art imitating life. Hank also tenderly reminds Rickey that her mother would say to her as a baby, “You are perfect in every way, sweet boy.” He then adds, “She would’ve said sweet girl if she could of.”
Writer/Director Eric Schaeffer has created characters who resonate with inexhaustible emotion, and honesty. Boy Meets Girl addresses gender identity and gender stereotypes with grace, empathy, and humility. There is so much heartfelt tenderness here, it is impossible to not be moved. And, yes, I cried each time I have watched the movie. I related to Rickey’s emotional story, in some ways, reflecting on my own transition.
Rickey made a video about her mother when she was an early teenager. It was so touching and tender. She flipped index cards, which read, in part: “…And that I realized how lucky we all are to be alive. No matter what our circumstances are. So please write me if you ever feel down and think of hurting yourself. And I’ll remind you what you forgot. That you are perfect in every way sweet boy… or girl”
And that is a message I pass along to all of you going through your transition. Please write me at email@example.com if you feel down, stuck, the need to reach out to someone.… I have been there, having very few people to talk to, and it was dark and painful and hard to overcome alone. “Life is short and there aint no time to waste on things that aren’t the truth. I have a past, and I have [no more] secrets.”
mir, irini, peace, amn,