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'Anything's Possible': What Trans Representation Looks Like When Done Right

Billy Porter's directorial debut, Anything's Possible is currently streaming on Prime Video.

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3 min read
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With Queer History Month 2022 coming to an end, we're still scrambling for media representation that is authentic to trans and genderqueer people. At a time when sensitive portrayals are bulldozed by tokenistic "diversity hires", Billy Porter's Anything's Possible is a refreshing take on the cliched teen romances we grew up watching. Centered around Kelsa - a young Black, transgender teen who aims to have the best senior year in high school - Porter's directorial debut is a masterclass on the multi-layered nuances of representation.

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Kelsa, brilliantly played by Eva Reign, is a strong, teenage girl who finds comfort within her friends. And like most strong teenage girls, she has a pool of internal struggles that she often expresses through her online vlogs. At a time when male cisgender actors are just waking up to the problematic dynamics of playing transgender women on screen, seeing a young, African-American transgender actor playing the role of Kelsa is as satisfying as it is crucial.

What makes Anything's Possible an ever more crucial film is because Porter does not restrict trans voices to just the main lead. With an effortless screenplay by transgender screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona, the film spotlights queer stories in more ways than one.

Besides the portrayal of queerness, it's doubly refreshing to see a young Muslim boy in the lead. Played by Abubakr Ali, Khal Zubai is a soft, charming boy who Kelsa can't help but fall for. Some good old teenage drama ensues when Khal reciprocates but she realizes that her best friend has feelings for him too.

Billy Porter's directorial debut, Anything's Possible is currently streaming on Prime Video.

Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali in a still from Anything's Possible.

(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

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From the fierceness with which Kelsa's mother protects and respects her identity to Khal's otherwise strict, Egyptian mother standing by her son when most of his near ones ridiculed him for dating a trans girl - there are quite a few tear-jerking moments in the film.

But, at its core, Anything's Possible is neither a complex tale nor one that scales extraordinary heights with its storytelling. What it does is present a story you might have heard before but with characters you're probably seeing for the first time. From diverse supporting actors to positive representation of mothers of colour - the film heavily highlights the point: minorities deserve ordinary stories, too.

As a young, trans-nonbinary person who's actively on the lookout for films and TV shows that provide happy endings to its queer characters, watching Anything's Possible was thoroughly validating. Even though several scenes touched on the myriad micro-aggressions and transphobic mistreatment that make up the lived experience of a transgender person, Porter wasn't too pre-occupied with the plight of being trans and instead, held up the possibility of a mushy, coming-of-age tale of trans joy.

"From page one (of the script), it was about trans joy, trans celebration...the normalizing and humanizing of the othered. And we know what's going on right now and how necessary those kinds of stories are".
BILLY PORTER ON CBS MORNINGS

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