How "The Danish Girl" Can Start a Revolution

By Devin Riggs, Regular ContributorSeptember 24, 2015

A few weeks ago my friend messaged me the link to the trailer for “The Danish Girl,” a movie soon to be released based on the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff. His book is a fictionalized account of the life of Lili Elbe, the first known person to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. I had heard months ago about Eddie Redmayne getting cast in the lead but hadn’t really heard more about the project.


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Out of curiosity I watched the trailer with a keen eye and cautious judgment. The stories of transgender people are, I believe, sacred and not to be tossed around like the newest fashion trend. Hollywood seems to be jumping on a bandwagon without much thought to the actual impact it has on their audience or the groups their films are representing. It’s upsetting to see yet another cis male actor cast as a transgender woman. Eddie Redmayne is an amazing actor, but it’s hard to believe a trans actor couldn’t have been found who is just as good and is actually a member of the group being represented.

After watching the trailer, I scoured the Internet for reactions. Some people are just happy that Lili’s story is being told at all, as she is a pioneer of the transgender evolution. The recognition and continuing conversation is happening. Others are outraged at the casting. More still are furious with the movie itself and how it portrays Lili’s transition.

The story is incredible. The trailer is moving. It is a love story that has not been told before on the big screen.

Because as much as it is about Lili’s self-realization and actualization, it’s also about her spouse Gerda and the journey they take together. That is a story that deserves to be told, and it deserves to be told right. But there’s only so much that can be said from two and a half minutes. I think I’m going to withhold judgment until I see the whole thing.

But I do believe “The Danish Girl” is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. If nothing else, it’s giving people the chance to discuss these complex issues. It’s giving us the platform to demand more from Hollywood and how they treat these very human experiences. It’s giving us more to think about, to talk about, to ask questions about. It’s challenging our ideas on how we should represent those stories that have been hidden so long behind prejudice and ignorance and hatred. “The Danish Girl” may not be the perfect movie, but it is creating the perfect opportunity to seek the change we really need and bring transgender experiences to the spotlight to be told openly with honesty, integrity, and genuineness.

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About Devin 

DEVIN_RIGGS_writer_bio_(1).jpgDevin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep. 


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