Orange Is the New Black/Freak Show star Laverne Cox has a LOT to say about whether or not cisgender men like Matt Bomer, Jared Leto, and Jeffrey Tambor should play transgender characters.
Speaking to Michelangelo Signorile on SiriusXM Progress, she pointed to a recent essay by Emmy-nominated transgender writer, actress and producer Jen Richards, “Why Straight Men Kill The Trans Women They Love.”
“Jen Richards said that she believes that when cisgender men or non-transgender men play trans women it sends a message to people who don’t know trans folks that trans women are really men,” Cox explained. “And then, as brilliant as Jefffrey Tambor is, as brilliant as Jared Leto is, and all these actors who play trans women, when people who don’t know anything about trans folks and trans women see the very sexy Jared Leto and his beard accepting an Oscar for playing a trans woman, the message that it sends is that trans women are really men. So when men find themselves attracted to trans women they have anxiety about that because of their own internalized homophobia and transphobia and they’ve gotten this message that trans women are really men and then this leads to violence. [Jen Richards] contends that this leads to violence against trans women. And I think she makes a really strong argument.”
But Cox isn’t an absolutist ― “I would never want to tell another actor that they should or shouldn’t play a part” ― and would leave it to actors to make their own decisions. She simply wants them to think more about the outcome, the effect.
“Art is art,” she said. “And artists should have the freedom to do whatever we want. But there are consequences to that. There’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but there’s consequences to that speech. So Jen Richards’ arguments I think are worth considering when we think of casting trans folks. And I think that trans folks should not just be playing roles that are expressly trans. I just did a pilot for ABC and played a part that was not written as trans. But the producers, after looking at lot of different actors, thought that the qualities that I have as an actor would lend themselves to this character. And it didn’t get picked up but they loved what I did and I tested very well with audiences apparently, which is exciting to hear.”
(via HuffPo; Photos: Pacific Coast News)