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Here's Why Taika Waititi's New Film Is Being Called Transphobic

Here's Why Taika Waititi's New Film Is Being Called Transphobic

Here's Why Taika Waititi's New Film Is Being Called Transphobic

Early reports about the once beloved Oscar-winning director's latest project Next Goal Wins are troubling, to say the least.

Taika Waititi’s new film Next Goal Wins is drawing attention following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately, it’s not the good kind.

Next Goal Wins, based on the documentary of the same name, follows the American Samoa national football team, considered to be one of the worst in the world, as they try to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

While we were initially excited for the film, and we got even more excited when we learned that nonbinary actor Kaimana would be playing a fictional version of Jaiyah Saelua, a fa’afafine (third gender) soccer player who was the first nonbinary and trans woman to compete in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Unfortunately, an early look at the film has us worried about its trans character and her portrayal.

According to Charles Bramesco at The Playlist, while Kaimana is a standout in the film, she and her gender are not treated with respect by the characters or the movie itself.

“Secret weapon Jaiyah (the mononymous, nonbinary, altogether transfixing Kaimana) initially baffles Thomas (Michael Fassbener as the white American coach sent to lead the team) with her gender identity of fa’afafine, taken for granted in the Pacific as an important piece of the local cultural heritage.”

“He deadnames her to motivate her during practice,” he continues. “Then, after she knocks him out, she’s sent on the high road of apology to him for a reconciliatory heart-toheart in which she smiles through an invasive inquiry about her genitals.”

“The movie’s emotional climax uses her transition with a vulgar blatancy of purpose, just so Thomas can give her the pep talk that instantly dissolves her dysphoria,” the review says.

An unverified report also says that this version shown at TIFF is the edited version, and the original was much worse. According to a user on Reddit, the plot between Coach Thomas and Jaiyah was larger, involving him berating and deadnaming her due to his latent attraction to her.

While this is just one review from one person and unsubstantiated rumors from another, the reports are still troubling.

Waititi has given us some of recent pop culture's more memorable queer characters, including Korg and Valkyrie in Thor: Love and Thunder (whose amazingness can be debated), and Blackbeard, who he plays in Our Flag Means Death, but now, it seems he’s stumbling with trans representation.

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