Jon Garcia’s Strictly For The Birds is a beautiful story about the journey of transformation and self-acceptance. This love story – between self and self, is told through voiceovers and flashbacks. 60-year-old, Kate Birdsall, played by herself, finds love after two marriages and a military career. She meets and falls for her friend Andrea Drury, played by herself. As Katie experiences this friendship that transforms into love, she tells her story of who she was before she was Kate.  Living life as a man – Danny, played by Andy Copeland, isn’t completely happy and unable to accept who he is deep down inside. Danny finally leaps into his new life as Kate after the loss of his second wife.  Kate is then, able to accept herself, able to be free, and live the life she’s wanted from childhood.   

Garcia does a great job representing the life of a trans person. The story is not only a positive one with a happy ending, but the shots are also perfectly paired. Each scene is shot in beautiful, bright light, giving the scenes a happy feeling to them, and giving hope to a character – who seems a little hopeless when it comes to love. Even in scenes that are supposed to be less happy, light seems to shine through, figuratively and literally. Letting the viewer know that everything, in the end, will turn out fine. This is so refreshing to see on the screen, in times when the trans community is still struggling to be seen positively on the big screen. 

However, I must question how authentic this story truly is. Kate mentions several times how hard it was for her to be herself. How challenging it was for her to come out and be who she wanted to be, how unseen and uncomfortable she was as a man. Nonetheless, we as the viewer never really see the hardship Kate speaks about. There isn’t a flashback of Kate being mistreated or pushed away for choosing to live her life as a woman. Every person she encountered in the film was okay with her living the life that she wanted. Even when Kate lived as a man, Danny didn’t seem to struggle, or at least it wasn’t visible to the audience. Danny’s childhood friend accepted him dressing up in women’s clothing -and occasionally dressed up with Danny. His second wife also accepted Danny’s cross-dressing. This one-sided, congratulatory version, takes away from the complexity and depth of Kate Birdsall. 

Overall, Strictly For The Birds is a love story that all love birds can enjoy, and hopefully take away a valuable lesson, life doesn’t have to be anything other than what you want it to be. We all deserve love. 

By Gabrielle Bristout| May 10, 2022

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