Originally posted in 2014 at The Vulgar Cinema
The opening scene of Under the Skin is a birth. She's not a child, but a fully grown individual. In that sense she did not have a childhood. She came into this world as an adult and had to live her life as a young woman. There is no learning experience for Scarlett Johannson's character (who I am going to call Amy for brevity sake since she is nameless throughout the film) that she can fall back on coming into womanhood. It is a blank slate as evidenced by the pure whiteness of the colour scheme in the scene. She exists alone and she walks into a world where she is both an alien not understanding how to be human and a woman not knowing how to be perceived as every other woman. In the scope of transgender idealogy there is often a feeling of death and rebirth when coming out. For many individuals (myself included) childhood doesn't go as planned and when you're finally ready to be yourself and be a woman you walk into a world that you have to relearn. You're born as an adult much like Amy without enough of the basic knowledge that comes with being given a cisgender girlhood.
The prospects of dating while trans are quite frankly horrifying. The danger of male violence is around every possible romantic interaction, and while this is also true of cisgender women transgender women are sometimes murdered before and after sex just for not having the right equipment (something I'll get into later). What is seen as a larger Predator-Prey narrative can be dissolved into a metaphor on failed romantic relationships. The first few men she encounters in this film fall prey to this darkened room and disappear into a void. Oftentimes read as a Black Widow narrative I think it lines up with struggling to find someone who will see you as you see yourself instead. These men are lured by Amy but when sex comes up things turn disastrous. Glazer flips the point of view from Amy to that of the men in these scenes. I think in their mind they do not see Amy as normal in the way they would most women and their "deaths" are moments of panic over sexuality. Amy is left to search for a real romantic interest and these trysts with men leave no lasting impact on her. They just further her otherness and her alienation as she retreats back to her van, her safe place and falls back into introversion. It comes as no real surprise when she makes her first real connection with another person he has also been ostracized by society for having neurofibromatosis. They connect in a way that she cannot with those other men, because they don't understand her being an outcast. He does, and their short moment together is one of the more tender moments in the film showing great empathy on Glazer's part for those on the fringes of society due to things they cannot control.