The Danish Girl is a remarkably stunning movie about the inner struggle and transformation of a transgender person. It speaks at once to the identity in all of us.
As I watched I found myself questioning do I really express my identity? Do I know my identity? We all have roles at work, in partnerships, perhaps as parents, but who is inside of us to call our own?
I thought one place I can't disguise or mask my identity is in my painting. This struck me as I watched the Danish Girl about two painters. What was inside each main character's inner world emerged through their paint brushes.
The Danish girl's devoted wife drew pictures of her partner throughout her life. She was a part of her no matter her shifting exterior. The wife was indelibly attached to her partner's interior.
Who is in your interior? Who do you cling to inside when you are most yourself. Do you express that person in your life or does this person stay inside just you? It's a touching moment for all of us when we feel someone else really recognizes the you in me -- the person not cluttered by external expectations, validation and needs for approval. Of course we may be a conglomeration of aspects of personhood but something about all that is unutterably you.
As a psychoanalyst who works with parents and their children and adolescents as well as individual adults, I've spent decades helping people find themselves from the inside. I want parents to recognize that the behaviors of their children that puzzle them have meaning because they often speak to their inner world, what's on their mind and often, their identity.
The Danish Girl leads each of us on a personal journey because we identify with finding our identity or sense of self. This doesn't take away from how the film depicts the astounding path of transgender persons that we must recognize in this very moment and for all times -- those who are seeking acceptance by themselves and by others -- but it does touch us all in deeply personal ways.