Movie and TV stars tell Hollywood: stop getting cisgender actors for transgender parts
Dear Hollywood: you need more trans actors.
Not just that, but more gender non-conforming and non-binary actors as well.
After all, it makes literally no sense for male, cisgender actors to be playing the part of characters with these gender identities.
And yet, it keeps happening.
That’s the point which stars from Shameless, The Fosters, Nashville, Jill Soloway’s hit show Transparent and more are making in a new video presented by LGBT charity GLAAD.
And they do so just days after Jen Richards slammed the fact that a new film called Anything will feature Matt Bomer – a cisgender actor – as the main character, a transgender sex worker called Freda Von Rhenburg.
“When there’s a positive trans character on screen, who gets the part?” asks Jazzmun of When We Rise.
“Not us!” comes the answer.
Only 16 percent of Americans know a trans person, as of 2015.
And how many trans characters were seen in feature films in the same year?
The 84 percent of Americans who don’t know a trans person “learn about us the same way we do,” says Alexandra Grey of Transparent and Drunk History.
Ian Harvie, of Mistresses, explains: “For many young or closeted trans people, film and television is the first or only time they see themselves.”
The actors say that films like Hangover 2 and Stonewall feature trans people being shamed, “erased from our own history,” and cast as villains, plot twists or punchlines.
“Imagine if this was all you saw of yourself,” says Grey.
As Trace Lysette says, “we’re not all serial killers and hookers.”
“It’s no wonder you’re scared of us,” adds director Rain Valdez.
“I have lost parts written for trans women to men because I don’t look ‘trans enough,’” says actress Jen Richards, the video’s writer.
“When cis people play trans parts, they’re focused on playing ‘trans.’”
Actor Alexandra Billings follows this up by stating: “When we play a trans role, we play the character.”
The video also addresses the overabundance of transition stories, compared to any other kind of story about trans, gender- non-conforming or non-binary people.
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“Imagine if all the movies in the theatre were coming-of-age stories,” Billings says.
“That’s what it’s like for us,” Shameless‘s Elliot Fletcher adds.
The actors tell Hollywood: “You have the power to educate, change minds, shape public opinion and open hearts.”
They then urge the industry: “Tell our stories with the creativity, dignity, humour, depth that make us real people.
“Or better yet, help us tell them ourselves,” adds Richards.
Watch the full video below: