Last year, Scarlett Johansson got torn to shreds when she said she should be allowed to play “any person, or any tree, or any animal”. Sadly, fellow actress Halle Berry has learned nothing from Johansson’s mistakes with the news she is preparing to play a transgender man in an upcoming film.
In a recent Instagram Live, Berry spoke about her next role and said, “[The film is about] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man.”
“She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing,” she added. “I want to experience that world, understand that world. I want to deep dive in that the way I did Bruised.”
“Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project, and that will require me cutting all my hair off,” she said. “That’s what I want to experience and understand and study and explore.”
“It’s really important to me to tell stories, and that’s a woman, that’s a female story – it changes to a man, but I want to understand the why and how of that. I want to get into it.”
Speaking of the trans community, hear about JK Rowling’s unsettling comments below:
Not only did Halle Berry continue talking about the film and character with “she/her” pronouns, but it appeared she didn’t understand the issue with a cisgender actor playing a transgender person.
Fans were quick to call out Berry’s comments on social media and the official Twitter account for Netflix documentary Disclosure also weighed in.
“Today is a good day to remind people that casting trans actors in trans roles in more than about opportunity,” @Disclosure_Doc tweeted.
It was a similar story for Scarlett Johansson, who was heavily criticised when she agreed to (and subsequently withdrew from) a role as transgender man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in the biopic Rub & Tug.
Not only does the casting of cisgender actors in transgender roles perpetuate dangerous stereotypes, it also takes the opportunity away from transgender actors.
In Disclosure, actress Jen Richards said, “the public thinks of trans women as men with really good hair and makeup in costume. And that’s reinforced every time we see a man who’s played a trans woman offscreen.”
In November last year, Scarlett Johansson admitted that she had “mishandled the situation” when it came to her role in Rub & Tug. “I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn’t totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing—and how they felt in general about cis actors playing—transgender people,” she said.
Berry has since responded to the backlash, telling her Twitter followers in a statement, “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
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