In France, eight-year-old Sasha has always dreamed of being a girl, however, she was born inside the body of a boy…
…All Sasha wants is to be seen the way she sees herself.
In director Sébastien Lifshitz‘s tenderly-shot documentary ‘Petite Fille’, love sees no gender. Interspersed with heart-felt interviews and intimate scenes of access, like when Sasha’s mother tearfully blames herself for wanting a daughter so much, ‘Petite Fille’ dispels a multitude of transphobic myths that swirl around the subject of gender dysphoria.
Too effeminate for the boys, too masculine for the girls, Sasha beatific presence is on the cusp of every conversation that few want to have. So, when her school principal and their staff hide behind a barrage of bureaucratic protestations, it is genuinely heart-warming to see that her parents and two brothers unequivocally have her back.
That said, afraid to be seen wearing dresses by other school children, Sasha’s mother decides to take her to Paris to see a specialist. Welling up with tears that she can’t let fall even in the presence of these supportive adults, it becomes plain that it’s not really the children that struggle with her identity but the adults.
All Sasha wants is to be seen the way she sees herself. However, the chance for any kind of childhood is disappearing fast. Always obliged to be step one behind the girls in her ballet class, Sasha becomes a flightless swan tethered to the ground by overly adult concerns…
With a tenderly plucked guitar and barely struck piano chords, Sébastien Lifshitz’s latest is a deeply affecting and unassuming prize, much like the little girl caught in its centre.
Commendably taking its time to move between each member of Sasha’s family, ‘Petite Fille’ is a damning yet sanguinely uplifting glimpse into a shuttered existence. Framed in the pastel-coloured of her assembled toys, Sasha’s mother knows this is only the beginning of the future rejections to come – and for that reason alone, it is vital that you visit her ‘Petite Fille’ now before that world can happen.