“Fitting In” Is a Queer and Heartfelt Coming-Of-Age Movie About Body Diversity

This review contains mild spoilers for Fitting In.

Molly McGlynn’s Fitting In opens with a quote from Simone De Beauvoir and a quote from Diablo Cody — Jennifer’s Body to be exact. “Hell is a teenage girl,” the screen reads, and then the film goes on to show us its truth. Hell is a teenage girl, hell is being a teenage girl, hell is being a girl, hell is being a person, hell is having a body.

The movie begins like a regular teen girl coming-of-age tale. Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) is an average girl who spends her days running track, bickering with her single mom (Emily Hampshire), talking about sex with her best friend Vivian (Djouliet Amara), and lusting after boys, specifically Adam (D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai). Vivian is more experienced, something Lindy hopes to change as she and Adam get closer.

But at 17 years old Lindy has never had her period. She’s managed to ignore this until she goes to the gynecologist to get birth control and mentions it. A series of invasive tests later, she finds out she has MRKH syndrome which means she has no uterus and no vaginal canal.

With the help of a strong performance from Ziegler, McGlynn allows Lindy to react to this news in a realistically teenage girl way. Instead of confiding in Vivian or even vaguely confiding in Adam, she antagonizes and alienates herself from both. She sabotages her track career, fights with her mom, begins drinking and smoking more, and stumbles through sexual exploration.

The one positive shift is her newfound connection with Jax (Ki Griffin), a transmasculine intersex student who goes to Lindy’s school. Lindy is drawn to Jax’s charm and Jax’s own experience with an unconventional body. But even this bright spot finds a shadow in Lindy’s fear of her queerness — and any reminder that she is different.

And Jax is a teenager too. While they may be more settled in their queerness, they approach Lindy with a touch of oversensitivity. They’re justified in their frustrations with the way Lindy treats them, but McGlynn allows them to react to these frustrations without perfection. There are visible, human cracks in Jax’s mask of confidence. They’re also just a kid trying to fit in — or stand out on their own terms.

While Jax is thankfully more than a symbol in the movie, their presence does deepen its message. As a trans woman, I related a lot to Lindy’s struggle. It’s hard to be a woman who doesn’t have a vagina and can’t have kids. Throughout much of the film, Lindy is dilating to try to deepen and create a vagina, something I’ve never seen on-screen despite being commonplace for friends of mine who have had bottom surgery. Even the responses of “you’re lucky” that Lindy receives about not getting her period had a recognizable sting.

Jax’s character makes that connection I felt to Lindy more than an accident. Fitting In is explicitly a celebration of our different bodies and the disconnect of certain biological markers from gender. Even some cis women don’t have uteruses. Even some cis women need to dilate.

It’s a positive for all of us if we work to detach our assumptions about biology. It’s a positive for all of us if we approach other peoples’ bodies and our own with less judgment.

Having a body might be hell, but Fitting In shows us just how beautiful that hell can be.

Fitting In is now in theatres.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 544 articles for us.


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