Rosario Dawson’s casting as popular Star Wars character Ahsoka Tano was tainted for many when the actress and her family were accused of assaulting, deadnaming, and mistreating a trans man who was close to her family.
A lawsuit was filed against Dawson and her family by a longtime family friend, who accused them of anti-trans bias and assault. In an exclusive with Out, the plaintiff, Dedrek Finley, claimed that the family “intentionally misgendered and deadnamed him, and assaulted him while yelling transphobic insults.” Since then, court records, according to Vanity Fair, have shown that 18 of the 20 claims were withdrawn voluntarily without a settlement, and Finley’s lawyer left the case.
Dawson has denied the allegations against herself and her family, but it has not comforted many who still are concerned about the casting.
During an interview with Vanity Fair, the actress was asked about the allegations leveled against her. “You’ve called the lawsuit false and baseless,” Anthony Breznican started off. “But what do you say to those Star Wars fans who hear this and believe the worst—that you are transphobic?”
“Well, firstly, I just want to say I understand…why people were concerned, and are concerned. I would be, too, if I heard some of those claims,” Dawson responded. “But I mean, as we’re seeing right now in these past months, and just recently actually, the truth is coming out. Every single claim of discrimination has been dismissed by the person who made them, and as you’ve said, the fact that this is coming from someone I’ve known since I was a teenager, the better part of my life, and who my family was trying to help as we have many times in the past, it really just makes me sad. But I still have a great empathy for him.”
Breznican then asked another question:
“Two counts remain alleging a physical altercation, and a judge will rule on whether that can move forward next month. There are people that would say, ‘Well, this is just another example of a wealthy, famous person overpowering the system.’ So what would you say to those people who are unconvinced, both about this case and about what you actually believe about trans people?”
“The reason that all of the discrimination claims were dropped is because they didn’t happen,” Dawson says. “I was raised in a very inclusive and loving way, and that’s how I’ve lived my entire life. I’ve always used my voice to fight for, lift up, and empower the LGBTQA community, and use my platform to channel trans voices, in fiction and nonfiction work that I’ve produced and directed. So I feel the record is really clear.”
Reading Dawson’s words, they are not necessarily encouraging, because yes, people can have a clear record and still tip into learned transphobia. The truth may never be fully known, and hopefully, the court case will help to clarify some of the matter on the record, but as of now, her casting remains something that Ahsoka fans and Star Wars fans will be struggling with until things become clearer. If they do.
(via IndieWire, image: Disney+/Lucasfilm)
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