Recently (on March 4th 2018) Chile won an Oscar for Best foreign Language Film with the movie “A Fantastic Woman”, starred by trans actress Daniela Vega, unveiling the hatred and fear many have for transgender people.
Photo: Caracol TV
I couldn’t believe it: Rita Moreno was announcing that “A Fantastic Woman” was the winner of The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. But the real winner behind this award, was the lead actress, Daniela Vega.
As she recalls in many interviews, she was born a “boy”, but felt different, knewing she was a girl. Thankfully, her parents understood once she came out a a trans woman and helped her with her transition.
Before taking the role of Marina in “A fantastic woman”, she had some experience acting, like in the film “The visit”, that portrays the drama of a trans woman that arrives at her father’s funeral and is not recognized as a woman, but forced to present herself as a man. But that didn’t stop her to take the role that has been praised by people like the actress Helen Hunt on twitter, making Chile a notable achieve artistic global recognition since 1971 (Pablo Neruda’s Nobel Prize). And winning didn’t just open the debate of what a good movie is, but what defines a person.
So far, Daniela has been called “a man in a dress”, “a woman that is not really a woman, because she can’t give birth” and at a late talk show, a character called Yerko Puchento, pulled the joke that he had gone to the cinema to watch “A Fantastic Woman with Coco…” (in chilean slang “coco” is used to make reference to a testicle), something the hosts didn’t mind at all but she has taken as gracefully as you can take such discrimination and hate disguised sometimes as prime time humor.
Why do we live in a country where is OK to laugh at something like that? Maybe it’s because as a society we still think that it’s OK to be a boy/man, that only “manly” things are ok and women should be ultra feminine and treated as an object ot that the last two Presidents have done little for trans people, with a Gender Identity Law in congress for about the last 8 years with no results. Daniela Herself said: ” I have an ID with a name that is not mine… and people die waiting for it”, and this not only means that Daniela has to travel with an ID and passport that identifies her as male with a male name, but that for other less lucky, they can’t get a job because their ID says they’re someone else, that they must exist as what a piece of paper or plastic says, not like their true selves.
“This movie does not pretend to be a beacon of light, but to help us wonder where is that we are looking for” she also said. And what Daniela and many others are looking for is nothing but respect for who they are and what they can do as who they are, not to be tied by law to someone they are not. Maybe the movie is not a beacon of light, but certainly she has become a strong representative of something the respect trans people have been claiming in Chile for the past years.
The question in the end, is taken directly from a Madonna song titled “What it feels like for a girl”, that starts with this dialog:
Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like
What it feels like for a girl