anythings possible

Anything’s Possible begins with the animal kingdom. We are introduced to the pink fairy armadillo, the blue-footed booby, scaptia beyonceae and the blobfish. Kelsa, the movie’s glittering leading lady, talks about how these animals have been named after what makes them unique – which is also what makes them survive. Fit that into the frame of a coming-of-age romance about a trans girl and you have subversion at its best. The animal kingdom is often offered as an example by homophobic, transphobic traditionalists as a way to justify the “natural order of things” and invalidate trans identities. It is safe to say that director Billy Porter aimed for poetic justice in his debut.

The film is the latest in a long line of recent LGBTQI+ film narratives that endeavour to focus not on the struggles and historical pain of the community, but on the specific normalcy of their lives: first crushes, heartbreaks and coming-out stories. And who better to take on the mantle of a Black trans teen’s sweet romance than Porter – the first gay black man to be nominated and win in any lead acting category at the Primetime Emmys and a Pittsburgh native, the city where Anything’s Possible unfolds (10 points for spotting his mural towards the end).

Kelsa (Eva Reign) is in her last year of high school. All hell seems to break loose when a classmate, Khal (Abubakr Ali), asks her out, in blatant disregard of multiple facts: that Kelsa’s friend likes him, that he comes from a relatively traditional Muslim family, and that Kelsa is a transwoman.

 

How Does The Film Tackle The YA Genre?

The film’s entrance into the YA genre, especially the rom-com space which has traditionally featured white actors in heterosexual relationships, is bound to bring a shift in the paradigm. The fact that the romance of the film is derived from a confident Black trans woman and a Muslim man, engaged in a warm, tumultuous relationship highlights its contribution to representation, agency and the evolution of the young love genre.

The film captures the angst of teenage love, with the added layer of the trans experience. As Kelsa and Khal navigate the usual turbulence of sending embarrassing texts, becoming school gossip and the general awkwardness of a first date, they also encounter issues that a heterosexual couple wouldn’t. This is best expressed through Kelsa’s fear – which is only fuelled by her schoolmates – that someone would only be interested in dating her for the ‘woke points’, which is ironic given Khal’s oldest friend eventually deserts him for “dating a dude”. Anything’s Possible derives its emotional core from its depiction of authenticity and the high cost one pays for showing this authenticity.

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A great scene unfolds in the school principal’s office as two fierce Black mothers – one with a cisgender, heterosexual child and another with a trans child – exchange verbal blows about gendered spaces and whether a transwoman should access women’s washrooms. The scene acts as a brilliant commentary for present-day feminism (or is it an age-old dilemma?), echoing the divisive war between traditional and intersectional feminists despite sharing, in this case, similar racial experiences. This becomes a testament to screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona’s determination to blend the seemingly unmarriageable aspects of a trans high-school romance: frivolity and politics.  Lecuona’s approach might just be a great guide for the long line of trans YA films we know are arriving.

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