Social justice activists and some members of the transgender community have responded angrily to the casting of Matt Bomer as a transgender prostitute in the upcoming Mark Ruffalo-produced drama Anything.
In posts on social media and in at least one essay on the subject, critics said the role of the transgender sex worker in the film should have gone to a transgender actor. According to Variety, Anything centers on a man (John Carroll Lynch) who, despondent over the death of his wife, moves from Mississippi to Los Angeles and strikes up a romantic relationship with a transgender sex worker.
Bomer, who is gay, is not transgender.
Activists quickly took to Twitter to criticize the casting choice:
Dear Matt Bomer,
You're great, but you're neither strong nor brave playing a trans character. You're just taking a role from a trans actor.
— Cecil Baldwin (@CecilBaldwinIII) August 30, 2016
— Jamie Clayton (@MsJamieClayton) August 30, 2016
Matt Bomer playing a trans woman is the perfect example of how cis gay men throw us under the bus for capitalism and assimilation.
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) August 28, 2016
— Jen Richards (@SmartAssJen) August 28, 2016
“With respect to your skilled work and sensitive portrayals of characters in the past, I beg you to shelve and scrap this film before you begin post-production,” trans musician and self-described social justice activist Mya Byrne wrote in an open letter addressed to Ruffalo, Lynch and Bomer. “That act will send a message to the Hollywood establishment: ‘We were wrong. We all need to do better and we have decided to set an example for others in our position.'”
Ruffalo responded to the criticism on his own Twitter account on Wednesday.
“To the Trans community. I hear you. It’s wrenching to you see you in this pain [sic],” he wrote. “I am glad we are having this conversation. It’s time.”
To the Trans community. I hear you. It's wrenching to you see you in this pain. I am glad we are having this conversation. It's time.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 31, 2016
In all honesty I suggested Matt for the role after the profound experience I had with him while making "The Normal Heart".
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 31, 2016
Anything isn’t the only film to be criticized for casting so-called “cisgender,” or non-transgender actors, in transgender roles.
Last year, actress Michelle Rodriguez was cast as a transgender hitman in director Walter Hill’s upcoming film (Re)Assignment, and photos taken from the set in recent weeks have led to criticism that the role should have been cast with a transgender actor. Some have threatened to boycott the film.
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This is what Trans Face looks like! And I'm really over it! Awhile back I decided to do some poking around to see what updates I came across concerning the deplorable new movie formerly known as "Tomboy: A Revenger's Tale" starring Michelle Rodriguez (@MRodOfficial). It has now been renamed "(Re)Assignment". Apparently "Tomboy" was to insensitive of a title. Written and directed by Walter Hill (from a story by Denis Hamill), the film centers on an expert assassin who is double-crossed and forced to undergo a gender reassignment surgery (Rodriguez) by a rogue surgeon (Sigourney Weaver), and then sets out for vengeance. This movie is a remake of "Johnny Handsome" with a Gender bending twist. This is a behind the scenes pic of Michelle Rodriguez with a faux beard (assuming this a shot from a scene before the inflicted "punishment" in the movie) on YouTube along with this "post-op punishment" clip (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5jtsvDcdwuY)! Yes, this is really happening! (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1EPF951fRkU) Please read the following articles for backstory. • http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/oct/29/michelle-rodriguez-tomboy-lgbt-gender-reassignment-movie • http://www.afterellen.com/movies/460779-problem-michelle-rodriguez • http://consequenceofsound.net/2016/08/michelle-rodriguez-to-play-transgender-hitman-in-walter-hills-reassignment/ • I ask the following question: 1. Why is gender reassignment being depicted as a cruel punishment? This movie is doomed! We must Boycott (Re)Assignment! • #StopTheShade #StopThisBullShit #StopTransFace #TransInMedia #BoycottTomboyMovie #BoycottReAssignment #MichelleRodriguez #MRodOfficial #TomboyARevengersTale #Tomboy #ReAssignment #TransLivesMatter
Last year also saw the release of the Oscar-nominated film The Danish Girl, which starred Eddie Redmayne as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe. Critics also threatened to boycott that film ahead of its release in November. Redmayne was nominated for an Oscar for the performance, but lost out to The Revenant star Leonardo DiCaprio.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum