comScore Jamie Clayton, Jen Richards on Movie's Failed Trans Casting | The Mary Sue
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Jamie Clayton, Jen Richards Call Out Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo for Casting Cis Male to Play Trans Woman in Anything

Recently, Jamie Clayton, one of the stars of the Netflix sci-fi show Sense8, opened up about how disappointing it was to see yet another movie miscasting trans characters. In the above tweet, she’s referring to Anything, an upcoming movie featuring Matt Bomer playing a sex worker who happens to be a trans woman. Cue flashbacks to Dallas Buyers Club, which placed Jared Leto in the role of Rayon, who was also a trans woman character.

Clayton’s tweet earned her a block from Bomer on Twitter, which was then rescinded soon afterwards. The block, temporary though it was, served as something of a chillingly poetic example of what happens when trans women speak out against such things happening in the television and film industries. They’re literally ignored, a blind eye turned against the very people who should be consulted and referred to about this.

She’s not the only star to come out against this movie, which has (unfortunately) already finished filming. Jen Richards, director and star of one of our favorite series, Her Story, tweeted about the movie as well, and was one of the first ones to call it out for how it continues to hold up damaging tropes of trans women in film. Richards’ tweetstorm expertly breaks down Hollywood’s continued insensitivity and reluctance to place trans women in trans women roles.

Among her points, one in particular stood out: because Hollywood keeps messing up such a simple task (seriously, it’s not that hard), it’s directly contributing to violence against trans women.

Richards is absolutely right. According to research done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the majority of the victims (73%) of hate crime homicides in 2013 were trans women. On top of that, trans women of color were disproportionately more likely to face violence. While there are a myriad of reasons as to why such horrible hate crimes are perpetrated against trans women, it’s not hard to imagine that in many, many of the cases counted, the women were targeted possibly as some sort of retaliation against their gender identity.

Consider the “trans panic” defense still commonly used in court today. It essentially legalizes the murder of trans women on the basis that the perpetrator was so “panicked” when they learned another person was trans that they murdered them in “surprise.” One such high-profile defense was when Joseph Scott Pemberton, a U.S. Marine, claimed that he killed transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude out of repulsion. Pemberton was still found guilty and sentenced to six to twelve years in prison, but the fact still remains that a woman died at the hands of someone else simply because someone else was repulsed.

The “trans panic” defense is only banned in California, and remains a valid defense in many other states, though its use is frowned upon by the American Bar Association. Regardless, it’s the basis behind the “trans panic” defense that is so chilling. There still exists this thought that trans women are somehow still men–a thought that continues to rear its ugly head in the ongoing “bathroom debate” as well. Because this thought or belief exists, and because toxic masculinity makes increasingly horrifying demands of men to prove their masculinity, trans women suffer.

The film and television industry has a very real, very scary power to shape how people think and feel about other people and issues. It’s because of this power that Hollywood must consider their responsibility to, well, do the right thing. Bomer, Leto, Redmayne, etc.–the list continues on and on and on, and as long as it does, we’ll also keep seeing more and more Laudes, Araujos, and Morgans.

Once again, it must be demanded of Hollywood: do better. You know you can. You have to.

(via The Daily Dot, featured image via Shutterstock/Helga Esteb)

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