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Seven-year-old Sasha lives in provincial France, loves ballet classes, dolls, dresses and her family. She may have been born male, but she’s known at least since she was four that she’s really a girl. Luckily, her mother, Karine, completely supports her child and, together with Dad and the Sasha’s four loving siblings, the family embarks on a process of transition. This involves, among many other daunting steps, visiting a psychiatrist specialising in gender dysphoria in Paris to discuss the situation, including whether (when the time comes) to use hormone treatment as puberty starts, managing friendships and, most importantly, persuading Sasha’s school to recognise her as a girl. That last step appears not to go so well due to a more conventional school principal, but Sasha and her parents persist.
This extraordinary documentary by director Sebastien Lifshitz, who has made many films about the LGBTQ+ experience (Wild Side, Bambi, Open Bodies), achieves a remarkable degree of intimacy with its young subject and her family. Getting up close and personal through tightly focused, limpid cinematography by Paul Guilhaume, the film allows us to study every flicker of expression on the faces of Sasha and the adults around her.
Their anguish when the situation gets rocky is painfully visible, although the vérité style, eschewing any editorialising or narrational guidance, leaves room for viewers to interpret things differently. Are the parents and professionals pushing Sasha a little too hard to settle on a gender identity? Does it have to be such a binary choice? And the whole issue of puberty blockers, still very contentious, is only glancingly discussed. But what’s not in question is the vast empathy and affection Sasha’s parents feel for her, and that’s reflected in the empathy Lifshitz and his crew extend in turn to them, ultimately making this a very illuminating, trans-positive work.
• In cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Little Girl review – a brave child’s journey to her true self | Film