Thursday, October 13, 2005

Soldier's Girl

Last night I watched Soldier's Girl, a made-for-television movie about the life and death of Pfc. Barry Winchell, which stars Troy Garity, (Jane Fonda's son) as Winchell, and Lee Pace as Calpernia Addams, the transgendered performer who was his partner. Winchell was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat in 1999 by Pvt. Calvin Glover, 18 years old at the time, in what many newspaper reports then called "a possible hate crime," even though it obviously was one. He was attacked in his sleep, by the way.

It is not bad film, though it is not any great work of art -- despite exellent performances by Pace and Garity. My question is why, when we have films where someone falls in love with a transgendered person, do they never seem to know? It is as if Hollywood, or whoever is controlling movies these days, is willing to make a love story (which Soldier's Girl most certainly is) but they are not willing to make a QUEER love story (which Soldier's Girl even more certainly is.)

Near the end of the film, there is a sex scene where Barry performs oral sex on Calpernia -- tastefully shot, of course -- where she throws her head back in surprise, as if to say to the viewing audience "He is pleasuring my male genitalia, finally. I am rapt. He loves the whole me." (Calpernia has since complete sex-reassignment surgery and is living in California, working in health services.)

What seems missing from all the movies I've seen about transgendered people (am I forgetting any?) is that they never address the fact that their partners are, in some way, attracted to them precisely because they are transgendered. This is not to say that they are freaks, or kinky, or interested in any sort of subversive sexuality -- most people who sleep with transgendered individuals have a completely vanilla sex life. But then again maybe it is.

What we have are films about love in the cleanest sense of the word. "Straight" boys falling for wacky, sharp-tongued queer boys who want to be girls. Can someone please make a film about a guy who know's he's queer, has an interesing world view, and then falls for the trans-girl?

Tall order, I guess.

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