Ricky talks about not enjoying sports growing up but being forced to play anyway. She talks about how growing up she always felt more normal doing feminine things. As a transgirl who grew up in the South I can definitely relate. And I can also relate to the desire to get out of the South and move to New York. Ricky is shown commenting on how shorter Francesca is the "perfect height." Often transgender girls feel jealous of how cis girls look or sound.
"Living out loud comes with a pretty big price tag, but not as big a price as the alternative."
"I know it seems like it doesn't, but it takes so much for me to put a smile on my face and go out in the world every day."
Ultimately, the film shows a transgender woman who has self-doubts, often feels out of place, struggles to find real connections, longs for a better life, and whose transition has taken years but still hasn't gotten her to the point where she feels like it's complete. On the whole it's a fairly accurate portrayal of life as a transgender person.
But, there are some inaccuracies too that, I think, show that a cis person did create this character. For one Ricky randomly outs herself to people she doesn't know. In one exchange she makes a remark about men being unable to commit because they're "afraid of dicks," and in another she mentions how hard high school was because she "was a boy." In both cases she's talking to complete strangers she's never met. Not only that, but they are odd comments to make in the scene, and seem to have been written simply so they can be shown in the trailer. Most trans people don't like putting the spotlight on themselves especially by making odd comments to strangers. Trans people tend to want to fit in as best they can and generally don't out themselves at the drop of a hat.
Another issue with anxiety in particular involves the plot device of a video made by Ricky when she was younger (maybe 12 or 13 years old - it's not made clear). In the video she admits to cutting, drug use and suicidal ideation. These are all indications of a serious struggle with depression or other mental illness. But, when we see adult Ricky, seven years later, she seems to have gotten over her mental illness and never seems to be affected by it at all. Sadly, this is far too often seen in media, especially episodic television, but in movies as well. Characters, often with a single dramatic breakthrough moment, are able to instantly overcome serious mental illnesses. In real life these issues can stay with a person throughout their life and are never so easily overcome.
Boy Meets Girl missed a serious opportunity to honestly address these issues. As these issues weren't addressed, they really didn't need to be included at all. In the end, the video functions simply as a plot device (any time a movie character puts a video online it will go viral without fail). Ultimately, the movie cheapens real issues transgender people face by using them in a plot device and then simply hand-waiving them away.
Another serious issue that is not dealt with well is violence against transgender women. In Boy Meets Girl, it is shown, but also depicted as something that is easily stoppable and not really all that dangerous. There is a transphobic character who seems almost cartoonishly over-the-top. He even considers transgender people to be terrorists and enemies of the Untied States. But of course, it turns out that he isn't really hateful. He's just attracted to transgender women like Ricky. In Boy Meets Girl, the transphobe is really a good person deep down. Once he gets over his own issues, he turns into a smiling, happy fellow who is able to wish Ricky well.
Transgender people, especially transgender women, really do face serious issues of violence. In providing the violent transphobic character a complete redemption without his so much as apologizing to Ricky for attacking her, the movie makes light of a serious issue facing the LGBT community. What's worse is that transphobe's violent attack on Ricky is never something Ricky has to deal with. She's able to shrug it off without much bother. So while trying to address violence against transgender people, this movie ultimately stumbles.
How other characters react to Ricky is a major part of what makes the film unrealistic. She seems to be the most popular girl in her small Kentucky town. Everyone in the town (of what seems like no more than 8 people) either wants to sleep with Ricky or praise her. Sadly, Ricky seems to have creative a new type of trope; the Magic Transgender Woman. Everyone loves her and she's the catalyst that improves their lives. She heals Francesca and the transphobic fiance's relationship and gives Francesca the inspiration to live her life as she pleases. In the end, everyone comes together to help her out in a bit of a deus-ex-machina It's a Wonderful Life moment.
Michelle Hendley's performance was ultimately what made this movie work. Firstly, let's get it out there; she looks great - especially in the black dress she wears for the party scene. This was a great debut performance and she infused every scene with a casual likability and charm. Even in the more emotionally complex scenes, she sold it well. The script wasn't perfect, but she worked with it and her performance makes the movie worth watching.
Boy Meets Girl did at least endeavor to create a realistic and respectful portrayal of a transgender character. Plus it actually cast a transgender actor. Except for the aforementioned nude scene, the movie didn't feel too gimmicky in a "see the real transgender girl," kind of way. There were a number of flaws, but it was clear that Eric Schaeffer was attempting to create an accurate depiction of a transgender character and her life.
Boy Meets Girl also tries to be respectful to the transgender experience. Characters defend Ricky, stick up for her and it's made clear that she is a woman. The film points out that it's right to call her by her preferred pronouns. Trans people are seen as real people who deserve to be treated as such.
The flaws I think, are from, Ricky and her experience being shown from a cis point of view. Robby and Francesca function as audience surrogates. We experience the transgender Ricky through their eyes. They ask the questions the general audience wants to ask and the story shows Ricky's reaction to their choices.
As a trans girl, I am not the intended audience. But maybe a trans kid and their family might be. I could see Boy Meets Girl as a potential useful tool one could show cis family members so they can understand that trans people are normal, that they really are real members of their expressed gender, and that they deserve to be treated as such. The nude scene unfortunately ruins this. What we're left with is a decently accurate movie that tries to be respectful, has a good performance from its lead, but fundamentally misses the mark.