Victor Polster is shown in a scene from the film “Girl” is shown in this undated handout photo. Netflix has put a warning card on the controversial Belgian film “Girl,” which landed on the streaming service Friday in markets including Canada, and created a resource website for its viewers. Directed and co-written by Lukas Dhont, the Golden Globe-nominated drama has already screened at several film festivals and upset some film critics with the way it depicts a 15-year-old transgender girl pursing her dream of being a ballerina while preparing for sexual reassignment surgery. (Netflix photo)

Netflix creates resource website for those affected by content of ‘Girl’

Viewers who click on the film on Netflix will first see a ‘viewer discretion is advised’ card

Netflix has put a warning card on the controversial Belgian film “Girl,” which landed on the streaming service Friday in markets including Canada, and created a resource website for its viewers.

Directed and co-written by Lukas Dhont, the Golden Globe-nominated drama has already screened at several film festivals and upset some critics with the way it depicts a 15-year-old transgender girl pursing her dream of being a ballerina while preparing for sexual reassignment surgery.

Viewers who click on the film on Netflix will first see a ”viewer discretion is advised” card that says the “film covers sensitive issues, and includes some sexual content, graphic nudity, and an act of self-harm.”

The card also mentions www.girlmovie.info, which contains information about The Trevor Project, a 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth in the U.S.

Also on the site is a link to TrevorSpace, an international community for young LGBTQ people, as well as the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD and a video featuring Dhont and Nora Monsecour, a trans female dancer from Belgium whose life inspired “Girl.”

“The actions portrayed in this work of fiction are extremely dangerous and should not be attempted,” says the site.

“Genital mutilation, hormone overdose, and acting against trans-competent medical advice are life-threatening behaviours likely to make gender-affirming surgeries impossible. Safe options and transgender resources exist if you or a loved one wish to medically transition. If you are considering self-harm or suicide, support is available. You are not alone.”

Netflix says it worked on the warning card and site with GLAAD and The Trevor Project and other LGBTQ-focused organizations.

The site is similar to the one the streaming service created for its teen drama series “13 Reasons Why,” which tackles the subject of suicide.

Belgian actor Victor Polster stars as the protagonist in “Girl,” who visits medical doctors and undergoes hormone therapy while training in the competitive world of dance. The film won several top awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Camera d’Or award for best first feature film.

READ MORE: How to talk to your kids about Netflix drama ‘13 Reasons Why’

Some film critics have expressed concern that the film is told from the perspective of a cisgender filmmaker with a cisgender actor playing the lead. They also take issue with the way the story was handled, noting it contains several graphic scenes focusing on the character’s genitalia and a harrowing part involving self-mutilation.

“The film has the potential to be very dangerous for a young trans person in any country who might stumble upon this and think that somehow that is a route to take to get the body that they’ve always felt they should have had in the first place,” Tre’vell Anderson, the Los Angeles-based director of culture and entertainment for Out magazine, said in a recent phone interview.

“One thing the film does is it contextualizes the trans experience as being one that is purely physical and one that is purely medical. It oversimplifies the experience of being trans and doesn’t take into account the psychological state of being that trans is as well.”

Anderson, who identifies as gender non-conforming, noted many trans people worldwide are required to go through therapy and have medical professionals sign off on their mental state in order for gender confirmation surgery to take place.

“Being trans is about so much more than just our bodies, it’s about more than just our genitalia, and the film did not and does not represent that aspect of being trans,” said Anderson, who saw the film at a screening in L.A.

Mathew Rodriguez, a staff writer at Into magazine in Los Angeles, said he was also upset with the emphasis on the physical aspects of the character, noting the self-harm scene made him “angry.”

“I think that we don’t necessarily need to see violence against trans bodies in that gratuitous kind of voyeuristic way on camera right now. That’s not necessary, and especially written and directed by someone who has not had the trans experience, it feels exploitative,” said Rodriguez, whose review of “Girl” last October called the film “another example of trans trauma porn.”

“When someone talks about, ‘Oh, this film wasn’t about trans, it was about adolescence’ — using a trans story to tell a story about adolescence that you want to resonate with or that you want to make universal, feels a little exploitative to me.”

Dhont was unavailable for comment, Netflix said Thursday, but he recently told the British daily newspaper The Guardian that he consulted Monsecour on the film’s script and edits. He also said he and the film’s critics “have the same cause.”

“I don’t want to be against them, I want to be together and pushing forwards,” Dhont said.

Rodriguez said he’d like to see more investment “in amplifying trans narratives that are by trans people, directed by trans people, starring trans people, not cis people who are made to play trans parts.”

“Every major role in this film, when you talk about lead actor, director, script writer — at every turn where trans people could have been involved they were not, and that’s the tragedy.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay jogger barely escapes bruin attack

Man spends two hours up in tree, bear not located

Young farmers find a home through land-matching program

Young Agrarians links would-be farmers with landowners who have land to spare

Morning start: A history of the Arrow Lakes

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Wednesday, May 27

Restorative pole project underway in Edgewood

The pole was made almost 50 years ago to pay respect to local First Nations

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Risk of COVID-19 low in schools, Interior Health states

Medical Health Officer reassures parents as some children and staff head back to class June 1

Most Read