The debut of a clip from a new film starring Matt Bomer as a transgender woman has reignited the controversy over cisgender actors playing trans roles.
“Anything,” executive produced by Mark Ruffalo, follows a trans woman who enters an “intense friendship” with a widower, played by John Carroll Lynch, and the “new couple must reconcile their vastly different backgrounds as they fill the void in each other’s lives,” according to Variety.
When the film, which is set to have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival this weekend, was first announced in August, it drew sharp criticism for casting Bomer in the lead role.
“Sense8” star Jamie Clayton called out Bomer directly at that time for agreeing to star in the film:
Nick Adams, the director of GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program, also slammed the film in an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter titled “Men Who Play Transgender Women Send A ‘Toxic And Dangerous’ Message.”
“By casting Robert Reed, Terence Stamp, John Lithgow, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Wilkinson, Lee Pace, Cillian Murphy, Liev Schreiber, Beau Bridges, Jared Leto, Eddie Redmayne, Steven Weber, Denis O’Hare and Walton Goggins as transgender women, viewers receive two strong and wrong messages,” Adams wrote. “1. that being transgender is an act, a performance, just a matter of playing dress-up; and 2. that underneath all that artifice, a transgender woman really is a man.”
Now the first footage from the film, a 72-second clip released by Deadline.com earlier this week, has fanned new anger.
Trans actress, writer and producer Jen Richards, who spoke out against Bomer’s casting last year, tweeted on Wednesday explaining, once again, exactly why the move is so problematic:
Commenters on Deadline.com also sounded off about their displeasure with Bomer’s casting.
“Transgender actresses applied for this role and were rejected,” someone named Connie wrote. “Having a trans woman, who is actually just a woman, would look too good. They wanted the character to look like a man in a dress. This is why trans women get killed.” Another commenter named seatnai asked, “What’s so hard about having REAL transgender people playing TRANSGENDER roles in movies? We’ve got talent too.”
Ruffalo responded in September to the outcry regarding a cis actor playing a trans role:
Bomer has not publicly addressed the controversy, though Clayton said he blocked her on Twitter after she tweeted about him:
As Adams noted in his op-ed, Hollywood has a long history of casting cisgender actors in trans roles. Most recently, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his portrayal of a trans character in 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club” and Eddie Redmayne received an Oscar nomination in 2015 for playing trans icon Lili Elbe in “The Danish Girl.” Both actors and their films were also the subject of backlash for neglecting to cast trans individuals.