This Transgender Actress Has Perfectly Summed Up The Problem With Cis Actors Playing Trans Women

"When Jared Leto plays Rayon and accepts his Oscar with a full beard, the world see's that being a trans women is just a man performing."

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The debate around whether cisgender actors should play transgender characters has returned to the spotlight this week, following the news that Magic Mike XXL star Matt Bomer will play a transgender women in a new film executive produced by Mark Ruffalo.

The directorial debut of actor John Carroll Lynch, Anything will follow the relationship between a Southern widower (Lynch) and a transgender sex worker (Bomer). “I’m very happy to be part of this daring project,” Ruffalo told Variety. “Love is at the essence of great storytelling and transcends all discrimination and politicisation.”

Two Big Films About LGBT Issues Are Coming Out, And Lots Of LGBT People Have Issues With Both Of Them

But while Ruffalo’s heart is presumably in the right place, a lot of members of the transgender community are understandably upset about yet another cisgender man being cast as a transgender woman (see also: Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent).

In particular, transgender actress Jen Richards, who co-created the web series Her Story, has taken to Twitter to outline why this ongoing practice is so harmful to trans women, arguing that these sorts of casting decisions “exacerbate the cultural belief that trans women are really men, which is the root of violence against us.”

But Richards’ main point is that by continually casting cisgender men as trans women, filmmakers perpetuate the idea that trans women are actually still men, a belief that can lead to real-world violence.

“I’ve spent years looking at violence against trans women,” she tweeted. “Straight men are attracted to trans women. They always have been, always will be. We are some of the most popular sex workers. It’s a fact. BUT they are afraid that being with trans women makes them gay/less masculine. They seek us out, enjoy us, then punish us for their anxiety.”

“WHY do men, who aren’t attracted to men, who only date women, think being with trans women makes them gay/less masculine?” she continued. “Because culture as a whole still thinks trans women are “really” men.

Richards isn’t the only one to take issue with Bomer’s casting. Sense8 actress Jamie Clayton, who is also transgender, tweeted her disappointed at the actor, which led to a fairly predictable response.

Ruffalo has since responded to the controversy, tweeting his sympathy to the trans community and writing “I’m glad we are having this conversation,” apparently not realising that this conversation has already been going on for years. But uh, points for trying I guess?

Feature image via Jen Richards