Pronouns in Bio
23 Feb 2022
In today’s world few things are as essential to people as social media. Be it Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook; whatever. Last May, Instagram introduced a feature which gave people the option to put their pronouns in their bio. He/Him, She/Her, They/Them - chances are you’ll have seen them.
‘Pronouns in Bio’ stresses the importance of these, and tells the story of transgender woman Frankie Shaftain-Fenner. Firstly, there are very few transgender filmmakers in Hollywood - the Wachowskis are the only two which spring to mind - so it is excellent to see more trans filmmakers such as Shaftain-Fenner emerging in the business. What’s also important is that her story is told through her own eyes - early on Frankie touches on the idea of male gaze in film and television, no doubt this a story which needed to be told by a transgender woman.
‘Pronouns of Bio’ is a biographical documentary, which documents Frankie over a six month period, as she details her journey, from coming to terms with the fact that she was transgender to the struggles of getting hormones from the NHS.
The strength of ‘Pronouns of Bio’ is Frankie herself, who brings so much empathy and humanity to herself, whilst never shying away from the rough parts of her past. The manner in which she tells her story is so empowering and it truly feels as though you’re going on that journey with her. More than that, it is incredibly informative - there are so many things about the process of transition which I never about until watching ‘Pronouns in Bio’.
The film tackles issues with Frankie’s mental health, her isolation from friends and loved ones and her experiences of transphobia. Whilst most of the detailing takes place in her own home, with journal video logs - there are also some extremely well-shot montages and sequences. In particular, there’s a sequence in which Frankie is walking through a forest and picks up some oestrogen gel. In addition to being impeccably shot, it is a fun, inventive way of telling us that she’s started taking oestrogen.
There’s a strong influence from the likes of Bo Burnham in the film, with frequent musical interludes and throwaway dark humour. The songs never fail to hit a beat, and further demonstrate Shaftain-Fenner’s talents, telling their own story whilst also moving the overarching story forward. The song ‘6 Weeks’ is especially relatable and rings true even for myself as a heterosexual man. On the other hand, the humour doesn’t always land - some of the jokes are funny, yes, but a lot of them don’t work and even come across as trying too hard.
Overall, ‘Pronouns in Bio’ is a wonderfully informative film from Frankie Shaftain-Fenner, one that tells an important story of what it is like to be a transgender person in the UK. The camerawork is at times impressive, though the video journal pieces are more educational and heartfelt, and the use of songs are excellent. Despite many jokes not hitting the mark, that doesn’t take away from the intimate and deeply pers