Love transcends gender.
By Megan Smith
On the surface, Boy Meets Girl has all the elements of your run-of-the-mill coming-of-age drama. Within minutes, it’s obvious that Kentucky twenty-somethings Ricky (Michelle Hendley), the beautiful small-town girl with big-city dreams, and her handsome good-ol’-boy best friend, Robby (Michael Welch, Twilight series), are destined for one another. But in the same short amount of time it takes to see the sparks between these two, we find out that the confident and spunky Ricky is a transgender woman.
With Boy Meets Girl, director Eric Shaeffer (If Lucy Fell) tells a love story that transcends gender and casts off labels to let truth shine through. But unlike most love stories, this one isn’t so cut-and-dried. Best friends since elementary school, Robby insists that he only has sisterly love for Ricky. She, on the other hand, has had it with boys who only want to enjoy the sexual aspects of a relationship.
Things take a turn when Francesca (Alexandra Turshen, The Handout Saint), a gorgeous Southern debutante, returns home from her stay at boarding school. At first glance, Ricky labels Francesca as another rich, stuck-up conservative, but soon learns there’s much more than meets the eye. The two strike up an intense friendship that quickly develops into more—despite the fact that Francesca is engaged to a Marine fighting overseas. After making a fashion video for Ricky’s YouTube channel, the two share a tender first kiss that exudes both the passion and fear that goes along with stepping into uncharted waters.
The label-free essence of Boy Meets Girl is nicely wrapped up in an exchange between Francesca and Ricky following the first time the two women sleep together. Since neither has been romantic with another woman before,
Francesca asks Ricky whether this makes her gay, bisexual, or at least “something.” Ricky’s response is that it simply makes her “human.”
Yet, genuine affection cannot always translate into lasting love. Francesca’s fiancé (who initially appears to be staunchly transphobic—but again, there’s more than meets the eye) unexpectedly returns home and pushes up the couple’s wedding date. Knowing that what they have isn’t forever, Ricky commits a selfless act and lets Francesca go—and unknowingly opens the door for Robby to enter her life in a new way.
Ricky and Francesca’s relationship not only serves as an avenue for the women’s self-exploration, but for Robby’s as well—he’s forced to accept his true feelings for Ricky. Faced with the reality of losing Ricky forever, Robby lets go of his preconceived notions of gender and sexuality and gives in to his feelings of romantic love for his best friend.
Given the history of monstrous misrepresentations of trans people in film, I have to admit my stomach clenched when Ricky first stands fully exposed in front of Robby during their nude love scene—afraid that I would witness a horrific repeat of the likes of Sleepaway Camp. But to my delight and surprise, Boy Meets Girl handles the love scene with respect and grace, relaying the beauty and normality of trans bodies.
Shaeffer—who discovered Hendley on YouTube after watching her videos documenting her transition—should also be commended for casting a real-life transwoman in the role of Ricky. Her performance exudes authenticity and does great justice to this complex character.
Although the circumstances presented in Boy Meets Girl may seem a little far-fetched—it’s hard to believe that everyone in small-town Kentucky accepts Ricky as a transgender woman with such ease—the film is a refreshing take on how the world should be, where people are viewed as humans rather than labels.
Available from Wolfe Video (wolfevideo.com).