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Should a transgender person, not Jared Leto, have been cast in Dallas Buyers Club?


  1. Jared Leto's Oscar-nominated role as a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club has been hailed by critics and fans, but many people are arguing a trans actor should have played the part instead. 

    Leto was recently heckled at an event for "trans-misogny" for his role as Rayon -- the AIDS-afflicted business partner of Matthew McConaughey's character, Ron Woodroof -- but stood up for his acting job, noting he went out dressed as Rayon to get a feel for how people might react to her in real life. 

    "Inevitably the day comes when you take her out for a walk: shaved, waxed, wigged-up, the whole bit. To get a little judgment, some meanness, a little condemnation was a useful thing for the part," Leto told the Guardian.
    "I got three distinct looks from people. One was, 'What is that?' The second one was, 'Who is that?' and the other was, 'I don't know what the f--- that is but I don't like it.'"
  2. Despite his experience, his role has sparked a debate about the inclusion of transgender people's involvement in the film industry.

    "Right now, we have TV and movies that are aiming to show a positive or respectful depiction of trans people — and yet refuse to hire trans people [as actors]," Vancouver writer and actor Amy Fox told CBC News.

  3. Quebec filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed Dallas Buyers Club, spoke to CBC's Jian Ghomeshi, who asked whether he ever considered casting a transgender actor.

    "Never. [Are] there any transgender actors?" he said. "I'm not aiming for the real thing. I'm aiming for an experienced actor who wants to portray the thing."
  4. On social media, many people wondered the same thing. Why wouldn't a trans person be in a trans role, particularly when there are several well known ones to choose from?

    Laverne Cox, one of the stars of Orange is the New Black, for instance. Or Alexandra Billings, who has appeared on ER and Grey's AnatomyCandis Cayne has been on TV shows like Elementary and Nip/Tuck.

  5. Writer Paris Lees also weighed in: "If I’m honest, as a trans woman, I watched Dallas Buyers Club expecting to be offended. I wasn’t. It’s great and you should probably see it. And it’s wonderful to have a trans person’s story in a film that is being enjoyed by millions of people worldwide," she wrote for the Guardian

    "Is it depressing to see another male actor playing a trans woman? A little. Is he any good? Yes. He had me in tears. But is it an Oscar-worthy performance? No. ... For truly accurate portrayals of trans people, cast trans actors."

    Some other people, including this transgender author, have taken a lighter approach to Leto's role. 
  6. ("Cis man" refers to a person born a male and who identifies as a male.)
  7. However, not everyone agreed only a trans person can play one in movies.
  8. Gender aside, some people pointed out that actors play all kinds of characters; Why should one kind get criticized moreso than others?
  9. Should a trans character be played by a trans actor? What did you think of Jared Leto's performance?