Halle Berry is one of the latest to be victimized by Cancel Culture™ after receiving heavy backlash for accepting an acting role where she would be portraying a transgender man. After taking to her Instagram Live to express her excitement about her new gig, the reaction from the mob was swift and harsh. Many advocates of the trans community argue that it’s inherently problematic for non-trans individuals to be play trans people on film, because it’s a job that could have been given to an actual trans person. They also claim that it strips the story of its authenticity and resemblance to how trans people actually live.
While I agree that more work opportunities in Hollywood for trans people is a positive thing, I think that there are many situations in which a non-trans person could effectively play a trans person on film. Many trans stories in film are told in a manner in which a “pre-transition” timeline is present. It would make absolutely no sense in this scenario to cast a fully transitioned person for a role like this, yet activists still insist that it harms the community to do otherwise.
Furthermore, acting is about being and portraying someone else. This argument feels similar to those who insist that only gay actors should play gay people. To me, it’s more so a sign of progress that gay and trans roles are no longer taboo, and straight, non-trans actors and actresses feel comfortable enough to play them. There was a time when such a role would be a career killer. Many actors stayed away from them like their livelihood depended on it, because it did. Brokeback Mountain with Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger was one of the first times that status quo was broken, and we’ve slowly progressed from there.
If anything, I’d like to see more trans people playing roles that have nothing to do with being trans. Whenever I’m watching a movie or television show where I happen to peep a trans actor or actress playing a role where their gender identity is irrelevant to the story, it makes me happy as someone who’s trans myself. It’s a subtle, but powerful indicator of genuine integration and acceptance of the trans community into mainstream culture. It’s certainly more meaningful than Hollywood studios who feel the need to implant trans characters in stories where they don’t fit, just to fit a woke agenda.
I do think substantial research should be done when creating trans stories so that certain technicalities and intricacies of the process are told correctly—but that’s important with any type of movie or television show. I highly encourage any Hollywood studios who are working on a project with a trans character in it to go the extra mile to research or include trans people on set to avoid any glaringly obvious mistakes. However, other than that—I just can’t bring myself in the middle of a pandemic and societal unrest to really give a damn about Halle Berry being trans on screen. Sorry.