Documentary ‘Girl Like You’ shares an emotional journey of transition

Girl Like You

In 2014 Perth based musician Elle Walsh from popular band The Love Junkies shared that they experienced gender dysphoria by way of a personal and emotive letter published on music website Tone Deaf.

At the time Walsh said they were unsure about their gender identity, and also that they were not set on any particular pathway forward. They were in the process of working it out, and noted that gender does not need to be a binary decision, the space in-between does not need to be a place you pass through, in can be where you reside.

“So am I a boy or a girl? Well truth be told I have no fucking idea.” Walsh said at the time, explaining that they were on a journey but whether what this transition involved and where it may lead were uncertain, and that was alright.

Now a powerful new documentary has captured that journey,  directed by WA filmmakers, Frances Elliott and Samantha Marlowe, and produced by leading WA producer, Cody Greenwood, Girl Like You is a compelling LGBQTIA+ love story that explores uncharted relationship waters as it follows the life of Elle and partner Lauren.

Set to the eclectic backdrop of the Fremantle arts scene, the documentary follows the lives of the couple living a typical early 20s existence. When Elle reveals that she is moving down a pathway of exploring living a life that aligns with her female gender, it’s a challenging moment for partner Lauren, who until now has always identified as heterosexual.

Over the next six years, we watch a couple desperate to stay together, as they navigate the effects of new body parts, changing gender roles as well as battling their own evolving sexual identities.
Girl Like You uses the dramatic reality of changing genders while in a relationship to explore the larger thematic questions of the fluidity of gender and sexual identity, and the self-sacrifice required to nurture a lover through life.

The film utilises the close relationships between the filmmakers and their subjects to offer a refreshingly candid look into love in a transgender world. The film’s incredible access to conflict and intimacy is delivered through sit down interviews, video diaries, home videos and fly on the wall observational shooting to put audiences at the centre of the personal, complicated, messy, complex but above all, honest love story.

At times its uncomfortable viewing, the camera roll as the couple live through emotional conflict both individual, together and between themselves. Elle is questioned by her bandmates, she’s comfortable appearing on stage wearing women’s clothes, but still presents more masculine in her daily life, they appear to worry that he transition is performative.

Lauren is also on a journey of transition, is she a lesbian now? What is the future for their relationship. For everyone in Elle’s inner circle, it seems the discussion about transitioning and navigating that landscape as consumed all their energies.

Directors Frances Elliott and Samantha Marlowe explain that the project began life as a short film before growing to be feature length.

Girl Like You started as an idea in 2015 for a short documentary with a question shared between us: What was it like to be born in the wrong body? Over the next six years this would evolve into a feature length documentary that became about so much more than the intricacies of a gender transition. Girl Like You lays bare the complexities of love and of the lengths that we will go too to find it; for ourselves and one another.

“Bringing Elle and Lauren’s story into the social consciousness of the public has allowed us to explore the untouched subjects of love in a transgender world, in the hope of dissolving misconceptions and  normalising LGBTQIA stories on screen.” the directors said.

Following its world premiere at the 2021 CinefestOZ Film Festival earlier this year, the documentary has also been selected to make its international premiere at Raindance Film Festival in the UK on 2 November 2021 and will screen at the Curzon Soho in London as a part of the Queer strand of the festival.

Girl Like You, is set to make its television premiere on ABC TV Plus on Sunday 7th November ABC TV Plus 9:30pm, and Tuesday 9th November 9:30pm on the ABC.

Graeme Watson 

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