I had some thoughts about the recent wank about Eddie Redmayne and The Danish Girl and thought to put it down. To at least attempt to keep the amount of wank down, I’m going to put this all under the cut. If you don’t want to see it, then don’t click.
All right kids, so I have see a lot on my dash lately about Eddie Redmayne playing Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl. At first, I too was upset that a cis man was playing the role of a trans woman. Then I had a discussion with my mother about the topic and how we need more representation of people on the queer spectrum and of races in the screen (this was not just about Eddie but also Scar Jo playing Motoko in Ghost in Shell).
She was of the opinion that because there aren’t many trans* actors, it makes sense that a cis male would get the role. I heartily disagree with this sentiment. I think there are so few trans* actors in Hollywood because they are not getting hired, not because they don’t want to act. What struck me though is when listing the two examples of trans* characters played by trans* actresses, I remembered something.
Laverne Cox’s character Sophie in Orange is the New Black had scenes that were pre- and post-op. The thing is, Laverne couldn’t play both parts. They hired her twin brother to play the part of pre-op Sophie. Not every actress is as lucky as Sophie to have a twin that can play the male version of her character.
My point being that in order for someone trans* to play a trans* role that requires the character to be pre- and post-op needs to have someone that looks enough like them to play the other role. If that is not the case, then it is easier to get an actor that is of the same original gender. Especially in the case of a movie like there where a large portion of it seems to be on Einar pre-op.
Plus, this saves the film money, instead of having to pay two actors, they only have to pay one. I’m not saying money is a good reason for this to happen, but as someone on the fringes of film industry, I know films never have enough money in their budget. That’s why scenes constantly get cut. From the outsider’s point of view, the millions of dollars they have may seem like enough, but it never is. That’s an entirely different discussion though.
The point is, there may very well be good reason behind the hiring of a cis male for a trans*woman role. None of this is to say I agree with the decision, just that I could possibly understand where they are coming from. Even more so I would love to see trans* actors in both trans* and cis roles. If a cis actor can play a trans* role, why can't a trans* actors play cis roles?