This is the year we finally started talking about transgender actors and characters. A big part of that would be thanks to the wonderfully talented Laverne Cox, from Orange is the New Black. The latest buzz? Eddie Redmayne’s upcoming role as he plays the world’s first known gender reassignment patient in the film, The Danish Girl.
The story is about artists Lili Elbe and wife Gerda, and has been described as a “tender portrait of marriage.” It’s set for release in November of this year, and some people are very unhappy about it the casting.
Some think that the actor portraying Elbe should have been a transgender actor for such a high profile role. It’s a valid discussion for sure, but I disagree in this case. When it comes down to it, it’s acting. With professionals and advocates on set, they’re being careful to really tell Elbe’s story in a way that is factual and not at all exploitative.
Eddie said, “There’s a history of cis people sort of gaining on the back of trans stories, and I absolutely understand that that is not cool. But I hope firstly this is a specific period piece, and really is set in its time, in which the bravery that it took, if you were in your mind not of the same gender as your physical being, to undertake when there was no question…no one had done it before.”
If you’ve seen Theory of Everything, you know Eddie is an extremely talented actor and does what it takes to put everything he has into a role.
I am excited to see more transgender actors and actresses, playing both trans and cis people. But not every gay character will be able to be played by gay actors, and the same goes for trans individuals. If characters stories are being told with respect and truth and there is equality in who is getting these roles, that’s what really matters.