Here's the problem with Halle Berry wanting to play a trans man

James Besanvalle
Tuesday 07 July 2020 11:15
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Image:(Getty)

Halle Berry has apologised after she received backlash for discussing that she was considering playing a trans man in an upcoming film.

The American actor stated in an Instagram Live video that she was considering doing a “deep dive” into “that world”:

I'm thinking of [playing] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she's a woman that transitioned into a man. She's a character in a project I love that I might be doing.

I want to experience that world, understand that world. I want to deep dive... Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project, and that will require me cutting all of my hair off.

Many pointed out that if the character identified as a trans man, they would use male pronouns, so Berry’s constant reference to “she” and “woman” is misgendering the character.

While some pointed out the over simplification and stereotyping of shaving her hair off to get into the character of a trans man:

Many pleaded with Berry to watch the recently released Netflix documentary, 'Disclosure'.

Executive produced by award-winning actress and trans activist Laverne Cox and directed by Sam Feder, the documentary highlights the history of trans representation on film and TV.

It features interviews with prominent trans actors and directors like Matrix director Lilly Wachowski and Pose star MJ Rodriguez.

The documentary highlights the problematic portrayal of trans people, including cisgender actors like Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne – Dallas Buyers Club and The Danish Girl, respectively – finding critical success off the back of playing trans roles.

Trans actor Jen Richards argued:

I do remember watching Jared Leto, in his white tuxedo and full beard [accept his award] and it certainly was very clear to me in that moment that the world was seeing him as a man despite [his character in “Dallas Buyers Club”] Rayon having been portrayed quite beautifully and sensibly in the movie.

I realised that’s part of this larger narrative. The public thinks of trans women as men with really good hair and makeup in costume. That’s reinforced every time we see a man who’s played a trans woman off-screen… Having cis men play trans women – in my mind – is a direct link to the violence against trans women.

Trans activist Serena Daniari argued “cis peoples’ understanding of trans issues is really myopic”:

While trans journalist Serena Sonoma argued “trans people do not want or need cis people portraying us in film and television”:

And one trans man argued:

As a result of the backlash, Berry went on Twitter on Monday evening to issue an apology and to announce she will no longer be considering playing the role:

'Disclosure' was released on 19 June and is now available to watch on Netflix.

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