‘The Pearl’ tells stories of everyday transgender women


Grace Dorsey

‘The Pearl’ offers an introspective view of the real lives of transgender women. It tells four individuals’ stories and their journeys through various degrees of their transitions.
This documentary gives the viewer a different perspective of living as a transgender woman. Gone is the glamor of transgender celebrities and, in its place, dark and struggle-ridden journeys often plagued by fear and anxiety prevail.
I really appreciated how the film let its subjects speak for themselves because it allowed me to really understand the point of view of the women. The society in which these people grew up had incredibly stiff gender roles compared to today. These roles controlled and continue to control their lives, shaping the way they choose to represent themselves to the world.
Throughout the film, the topic of sexual reassignment surgery is discussed. Different individuals represent the different views of the transgender community as a whole. Amy, the oldest of the four, chooses to go to Bangkok for the surgery, while Nina is contemplating the decision, swayed by her mother’s disapproval. It was incredibly interesting to see the topic through middle-aged and middle class transgender women. The movie really hit home with the fact that these women have lived their whole lives in the closet and were only beginning to explore truly being free.
One minor issue I had with the documentary was the repetitiveness of the scenes. I understand that dressing feminine is a point of pride for transgender women and a sign of freedom. There were simply too many shots, however, of wigs, clothes and makeup being put on and taken off. Physical appearance, although significant, shouldn’t be the sole focus point of a transgender documentary. There was much more I would have rather learned about.
Still, I can say this film is certainly informative, and in an interesting way. I highly recommend seeing it for a more inclusive view of the transgender community.
What did you think of the film, ‘The Pearl,’ which played at the True/False Film Festival this weekend? Leave a comment below.