UK’s Working Title has released the first photo of newly-minted Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as the first known recipient of gender-reassignment surgery in upcoming film “The Danish Girl,” Flavorwire reports.
Redmayne will play transgender woman Lili Elbe, born Einar Wegener, a famous Dutch painter who traveled to Germany in 1930 to undergo gender-reassignment surgery.
The casting of Eddie Redmayne, a fine actor who will surely do his damnedest, once again draws attention to the debate in Holllywood over the lack of trans actors performing in trans roles. Were there no worthy trans actors who could bring a certain attention and intimacy to the role of Elbe? As an Oscar winner, Redmayne will bring prestige and attention to the film. But this is a cyclical problem — trans actors (such as Laverne Cox on “Orange Is The New Black”) first need their big opportunity.
The producers of “Transparent,” a show about a trans woman going through her transition have faced similar criticism. Creator Jill Soloway and her team have said they “welcome debate” on the casting of cisgender male actor Jeffrey Tambor in the lead role. Bitch Magazine quotes one critic as saying, “‘Having a cis male actor playing a trans woman perpetuates the idea that trans women are just men in drag. It also reinforces the idea that femininity is an artificial mask of sorts, about appearance—and it advances transmisogyny.'” Jared Leto’s Oscar-winning performance as a trans woman in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” also drew criticism, with Time saying “Don’t expect anyone to find it admirable 20 years from now.”
GLAAD examined the portrayal of transgender characters over the past 10 years on TV and in film, and found that slurs against transgender characters were employed in 61% of the catalogued episodes and storylines. Trans characters were cast as the “victim” 40% of the time. All this is to say that even though Redymayne will surely be good in the role in “The Danish Girl,” we could all use more careful consideration of transgender issues from our filmmakers.
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