US actor and singer Jared Leto was accused of ‘trans misogyny’ last night (4 February).
The ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ star, who has won rave reviews by critics, was told by a heckler did not deserve to be honored for his work.
‘Trans misogyny does not deserve an award!’ screamed the unidentified woman at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award tribute honoring Leto.
‘What do you mean by that?’ Leto asked, to which the heckler said, ‘You don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans woman, because you’re a man.’
‘Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?’ he asked.
‘So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian – they can't play a straight part?’
Leto has already won the Golden Globe, SAG award and Critic’s Choice for his portrayal of Rayon, a trans woman living with HIV.
‘Then you've made sure people that are gay, people that aren't straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art,’ Leto added.
He offered to continue the conversation with the heckler afterwards, where according to the Hollywood Reporter they had a ‘cordial conversation’ for about 15 minutes.
While he has won appraise for his work, some trans people were offended by Leto’s speech at the Golden Globes. He joked about cross-dressing and called Rayon a ‘beautiful creature’.
British trans activist Paris Lees, writing in The Independent, said it was not an Oscar-worthy performance as she did not recognize in Rayon any trans woman she knows.
‘For truly accurate portrayals of trans people, cast trans actors, I say,’ she said.
‘Not everyone in the trans community agrees though – some say that casting “regular” actors is a positive step, which acknowledges that many trans people “blend in”.
‘Many trans people do blend in. But wouldn’t it be better for those trans people to blend in themselves? On screen?’