Released in 2006, A Girl like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story; is an eighty-eight minute tribute to the beauty and tragedy that surrounds every transgender woman alive today. Written by Shelly Evans and directed by Agnieszka Holland the movie follows the life of a young transgender woman named Gwen from her earliest years being forced to grow up as a boy to her very last tragic days among us. Starring Mercedes Rhejl as Sylvia Guerrero (Gwen’s mother), JD Pardo as Eddie/Gwen and Corey Stoll as Joey Marino (Gwen’s Love interest), this well written drama takes you into the life, and loves, of a transgender woman struggling for acceptance in a very transphobic world.
Winner of the GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Movie for Television Category and nominated for the Imagen Award (JD Pardo for Best Actor and Mercedes Ruehl for Best Actress), this movie has made a very heartfelt impact in the transgender community; leaving its mark for generations to come. Mercedes Ruehl gives a wonderful and impacting performance as Gwen’s mother, caught between wanting to support her child and the fear that harm can easily come to one so different. Intense and passionate, she captures the role beautifully, giving us a glimpse of what it might be like if our child were transgender.
JD Pardo (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – part 2 and Snitch) captures the inner conflict of a male to female transgender as if he were actually transgender himself. You can actually see the stress and anxiety on Gwen’s face as she struggles to understand herself and the world around her. JD Pardo brings her to life again as if we had never lost her and helps us to understand that transgender women are people too.
Corey Stoll (The Bourne Legacy and Midnight in Paris) delivers a strong supporting role as Gwen’s conflicted boyfriend, caught between love and what society expects of us. Also look for a surprise performance by Avan Jogia (Victorious and Finding Hope Now) as Gwen’s younger brother who brilliantly shows us what it is like to watch his brother Eddie transform into his sister Gwen. Expressing the anger, frustration and confusion you can feel when closely related to a transgender family member.
A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story succeeds in capturing the life of Gwen from her earliest days of dressing up like a girl to her fully transitioning to the most beautiful woman that she was. Love, loyalty, transphobia and violence are explored as we watch Gwen develop into the symbol, and tragic victim, of the transgender rights movement. She affected so many lives and inspired many transgender women (myself being one of them) to aspire to grip their dreams and live the life they so rightfully deserve. This movie is beautiful, moving, heartfelt and tragic. I highly recommend watching it as it will help you know and understand that transgender people (both transmen and transwomen) are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect. Their lives are hard and full of transphobia so when you meet a transgender person, be nice and give them a break.