Matt Bomer’s indie flick Anything is slated for release next month. In the film, Bomer is playing a trans sex worker.
However, many trans people and allies are urging a boycott of the film, as it’s yet again featuring a cis male actor as a trans woman. This was the case in films such as Dallas Buyers Club (starring Jared Leto) and The Danish Girl (starring Eddie Redmayne), among others.
Trans Narratives, an organization focused on helping trans people share their stories, recently posted the following to Facebook:
The post, which urges people to see A Fantastic Woman—which star trans actor Daniela Vega—over Anything, received widespread attention, being shared over 2,000 times.
‘Here is some feedback. The meme resonated enough to get more than 2,000 shares in a couple of days,’ the page wrote. ‘Feedback indicates that most trans people are offended by Hollywood’s employment of cis men who put on a dress trying to imitate trans people. If it is no longer acceptable for white folks to play African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, why is it acceptable for men to play trans women?’
Still, the people behind Trans Narratives got some backlash—mostly from gay men who are defending Bomer’s role.
‘As a trans woman, I know from personal experience that many gay men believe that trans women are really gay men who refuse to deal with being gay men. I’ve been told this to my face,’ an admin of the page wrote.
‘So perhaps the gay men who insist on “gay-splaining” that Matt Bomer should be playing a trans woman just can’t get over the notion that trans women are in fact women, not gay men.’
The admins of the page practically begged cisgender people to listen to the voices of trans people about this.
‘On Trans Narratives I asked the trans community what they thought of cis men playing trans women. The vast majority of trans people say it exploits us. Don’t debate us! Don’t tell us it’s just a movie and these men are just acting. Listen to us! Listen to a mother of trans children.’
Even well-respected LGBTI organizations like GLAAD have pointed out the harm of casting cisgender men to play trans women.
‘The decision to put yet another man in a dress to portray a transgender woman touches a nerve for transgender people, and rightfully so. It’s yet another painful reminder that, in the eyes of so many people, transgender women are really just men,’ Nick Adams, a trans staffer at GLAAD, wrote.
In fact, there were trans actors who auditioned for this film, only to be rejected for the role.
‘I auditioned for this. I told them they shouldn’t have a cis man play a trans woman. They didn’t care,’ Tweeted trans actress Jen Richards in 2016 in response to the announcement of Bomer’s casting.
In a post on Medium, activist Phaylen Fairchild writes:
‘Anyone can put on lipstick and a dress, in fact, most men have at one point in their lives just for Halloween. The problem with Hollywood doing it over and over again (Jared Leto, Hillary Swank, Eddie Redmayne, Dakota Fanning) is that it never delivers the portrayal from an authentic emotional or psychological perspective. It’s reductive, and the Hollywood machine is so busy patting these “courageous” actors on the backs that they never see it.’
‘While the concept of “Anything” is compelling, one cannot watch without seeing Matt Bomer playing a Transwoman, which completely breaks the immersion.’
‘Clearly, Bomer has not had any access to the lives of Trans women, thus, he is forced to make it up as he goes along, trying to play a character rather than portray a figure whose life experiences have shaped them as a Transgender individual. Beyond that, seeing a cis Man, like Bomer, who can wipe off the makeup, go home to his family and leave it all behind because being Trans for 6 months was just his job is an insult to the actual brave men and women who walk out of their house into the hellish streets of prejudice and judgement every single day. They do not have the privilege of taking off their identity and resuming a “normal” life.’
‘Here’s the thing- Trans women and men both young and old deserve to be accurately represented on-screen. We deserve to have a public presence where we are provided beacons of hope, enlightenment, and we have the right to be given our own screen idols. Glossing over the Trans existences in favor of a makeshift one by proxy of some cis actor is repeated negligence and a deliberate slap in the face to the entire Trans community. We’re asking for representation and visibility in media.’
‘This is not it.’