DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) was an official policy concerning gays serving in the military. It prohibits harrasment and discrimination against closeted LGBT personel in the military, and barred the open ones from serving. It was established in 1993 and was in effect until it was repealed by President Obama in September 2011, but before it was repealed. Still, there were more than 13,000 personel had been discharged under the policy and there were a collection of tragedy that occurred within that timeline. Soldier’s Girl is a tale about one of them.
Private Barry Winchell was brought to a transgender revue by his roomate Justin Fisher, where he falls in love with a Calpernia Addams, a showgirl at the club. Barry and Calpernia begin seeing each other regularly and developed a romantic relationship. Knowing this Fisher begin spreading rumors and put Barry amidst harassment and pressure, which explode in violence and brought a tragic ending to his life as well as tragic ending to their love story.
This american-canadian film is produced by Showtime based on a true story of Barry Winchell and Calpernia Addams in 1999. While it was not package flawlessly, i think Lee Pace portrayal of Calpernia Addams was making this movie worth seeing (aside from the real story behind it too). This is Pace first lead role in a film and it has gained him recognition by playing a transgender woman (yes complete with prosthetics breast and hips too!). Pace brought ethereal quality and a softness in the character that reflects miss Calpernia herself, it is simply thrilling to see each little gesture he did and the timbre of his voice in the movie that is so different than other movie or TV i’ve seen him done (and i’m proud to say i watched most of his work anyway that includes Tarsem Singh’s The Fall, Pushing Daisies, Lincoln, as Thranduil in The Hobbit, and even Twilight *eyerolls*). Okay please excuse my momentary lapse into fangirl mode.
Back to the story, i found it appalling that Barry Winchell was subjected to harassment from his peers because they assumed he was gay. The fact is Calpernia is a transexual woman, a male to female pre-op at that time, even though she was physically male she always identify herself as female, and her sexual orientation is straight. While Barry is cissexual male who perceived Calpernia as what she is, a woman. So what they are having, albeit unconventional is a heterosexual relationship not a homosexual (like what can be found in Romeos).
After watching the movie for the first time i was so appalled by tragedy. I went on to search about the topic and read an article called An Inconvenient Woman by David France, published in New York Times back in 2000. It is mind boggling that even in the aftermath of the event this relationship is stuck because it does not belong in a traditional heteronormative and was not considered as an LGBT relationship too.
Of course i do not expect most people to understood this, hell, i don’t think i even understood the whole sphere of LGBT world anyway. But what i’m trying to say is, this film is trying to evoke and promote understanding and tolerance, instead of feigning ignorance that can inflict pain to others. Soldier’s Girl is a cautionary tale for that.
Now, after the repeal of DADT and even several states that legalize gay marriages, the fight for equality still has a long way to go. ignorance and intolerance still can be found anywhere, violence against homosexuals are still at rage.
Soldier’s Girl was screened at 2003 Sundance Film Festival as a part of the Dramatic Feature line up. Lee Pace won his Gotham Award for a Breakthrough performance as Calpernia Addams, and the show itself was nominated for several awards. American Film Institute considered it one of the ten best television program in 2003.