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Monday, 05 November 2012 05:19

Exploring Gender: Tomboy

Written by  Cael


Written and directed by Celine Sciamma, Tomboy, a French film, introduces the child Mickael and follows him as he navigates relationships with other kids and his family. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he is given the opportunity to start over and to be himself with his new friends. As the story progresses, Mickael works through his need to express his gender identity and how to navigate around the limitations of his body and hiding who he is on different levels.

Sciamma creates the contrast between who Mickael is with his friends and who he is at home with his family. The dynamics between him and his sister are handled well as well as those between him and the other kids. The audience can feel his thirst to fit in and to be who he feels he should be. Mickael’s curiosity and his pursuit to be another one of the boys are things I distinctly remember from my own childhood and are brought succinctly into the film.

Watching the movie, it was striking how clearly the different cultural standards for children in France allow the circumstances of this movie to be successful. In the US, children are incredibly closely monitored by adults whereas in France, children are treated more as tiny adults. There is no way my mom would not know the kids with whom I was playing when I was little and probably their parents as well. I could see myself trying to present as male if I had those same circumstances at that age. Mainly though, the cultural differences I noticed worked more to highlight the fact that gender is something which is questioned by children and adults no matter nationality. The lines do not stop simply because you step into another country. Trans* people are everywhere.

I’m including the trailer for Tomboy, and I would highly recommend watching (I found it on YouTube), though, as with most trans* films, it is not particularly uplifting. Let me know what you think in the comments or you can message me here or on tumblr, and I am always open to new trans* films if anyone has any suggestions.


Lezbelib is the online magazine that helps LGBTQ+ women to stay updated with entertaining blogs and breaking news about LGBT rights.