Trans rom-com, Boy Meets Girl, swept the FilmOut San Diego awards in 2014 and hit the big screen earlier in 2015. This fun, quirky and poignant film has been labeled the Pretty in Pink of Trans movies as it stars Michelle Hendley, a Trans woman playing a trans woman who has fallen in love with her best friend.
Set in Kentucky and filmed near Director Eric Schaefer’s (If Lucy Fell, Mind the Gap) hometown in New England, the film focuses on Ricky (Michelle Hendley), a coffee shop employee by day, fashion designer by night, and her best friend Robby (Michael Welsh, Twilight Series) who works for Ricky’s father in the local auto shop.
Enter Francesca (Alexandra Turshen, Red Oaks, Land of Smiles) who plays a debutante that comes home to visit only to find herself attracted to Ricky; their lives start to intersect as the story unfolds forcing them all to realize their true feelings about each other.
When most transgender movie roles are going to cisgender actors, Director Eric Schaefer cast an unknown Trans woman for the role thus making the story a truly believable film. It’s a girl meets girl meets boy story in what Eric Schaefer has called a “sex positive” movie.
Boy Meets Girl centers on lifelong best friends Ricky and Robby whose mundane lives are turned upside down when Francesca walks into the coffee shop where Ricky works. Francesca, who has been away at boarding school since she was six, is immediately taken by Ricky’s charming personality and the sparks begin to fly.
Although an integral part of the story line, Ricky is “outed” by Robby at the local swimming hole where the two frequent. As Ricky and Francesca get to know each other, Robby yells, “tell here!” and Ricky is forced to “come clean” as transgender. The “outing” proves to be beneficial to Ricky in that Francesca becomes more enamored with Ricky, however, it’s a difficult scene to digest as a person who is transgender, but sadly it is a common occurrence when cisgender friends feel they need to warn others of our transness.
We learn that Francesca’s fiancé David, played by (Michael Galante, Hypebeasts) and stationed overseas in Afghanistan, knows Ricky and is over-the-top transphobic, calling her words like “tranny” and “shemale.” As the story continues to unwind and the sexual tension between Ricky and Francesca culminates in an intimate moment, Robby begins to realize his true feelings for Ricky and we later find out that Ricky and David have a history together.
Lives intertwine and as the story continues to unfold in front of us, sexual orientation, love and gender identity all intersect at the end with Robby finally confessing his feelings towards Ricky. In a quintessential rom-com ending, boy meets girl, boy gets girl, and they drive off to search for their dreams, in this case, to New York City so that Ricky can become a fashion designer.
The underlying issue with most Trans films is that they generally cast a cisgender actor to play the person who is transgender; this is not the case with Boy Meets Girl. Director Eric Schaefer, after an extensive online search, ran across Michelle Hendley’s youtube video channel and after a few meetings, cast her as the main character Ricky.
It’s difficult to understand how a cisgender writer could capture some of the emotion and experiences of a person who is transgender, but Schaefer, with the help of Hendley have portrayed the character as accurately as possible. I reached out to Director Eric Schaefer earlier in the year and he said, “I vetted the script for authenticity with her and some other transgender friends so I could get as wide a group of opinions within the transgender community as I could. 95% of the script didn’t have to be changed from when I first wrote it. Michelle’s input helped me change parts of a couple scenes. Obviously as an actress embodying her character, she had tremendous input. “
Michelle Hendley, the star of the movie commented, “Eric wanted to make sure the story was authentic to Trans experiences. He often asked for my input when it came to Ricky ‘s portrayal as a Trans woman, and made sure he wasn’t injecting his own perceptions or misconceptions about Trans lives.”
Although the film is not perfect, it comes pretty close; strangely the scenes that come off as non-believable are unrelated to the main character being transgender. In one instance, at a Republican fund raising dinner, Francesca’s father finds out that Ricky is transgender and defends her as a person from David’s transphobic rants about her being “a guy.” Not necessarily the stance a conservative Kentucky politician would take.
Some in the community have argued that Boy Meets Girls re-emphasizes the fear of being accepted for who we are. Michael Welsh’s character Robby had to come to grips with being with a Trans woman after more than twenty years of friendship exclaiming, “you’re not a real anything, you’re not a boy, you’re not a girl.” This led to the powerful lake scene where Ricky and Robby finally come together.
People who are transgender will always have to “come out” and be accepted to any potential significant other, so the overall integrity of the film stays on track and the take away of the film is clear, love conquers all. Eric Schaefer concluded, “Hopefully the audience will be filled with a new hope for how our world can love more deeply and be more united.”
All pictures reproduced courtesy of Wolfe Video