“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway says there may be less debate over the casting of non-transgender actors as trans characters when transgender people get better representation in front of and behind the camera.
She spoke at the Toronto International Film Featival about her show, which cast Jeffrey Tambor as the transgender woman Maura. He went on to win the Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy last year, plus a host of other awards.
But in the era of greater visibility that “Transparent” helped introduce, Soloway believes many more roles should go to actors who are actually trans — not just playing trans characters.
“Would it be inappropriate for me to say I feel we are the last people ever who should have been able to cast a cis man as a trans person?” she said, using “cis” to refer to men whose gender identities match the sex that they were assigned at birth. “Like it’s absolutely not okay, but we were the last people to do it right.”
The showrunner, joined by her “Transparent” cast in Toronto, was asked to weigh in on the casting of Matt Bomer as a transgender woman in the film “Anything.” Some activists say the part should have gone to a transgender woman.
Mark Ruffalo, who is an executive producer on the project, took responsibility, saying he suggested Bomer for the role after working with him on the HBO film “The Normal Heart.”
“To the Trans community. I hear you,” Ruffalo tweeted on Wednesday. “It’s wrenching to you see you in this pain. I am glad we are having this conversation. It’s time… In all honestly I suggested Matt for the role after the profound experience I had with him while making ‘The Normal Heart.'”
“It’s really hard because Mark Ruffalo is a friend, and I really appreciate his revolutionary sense of what is possible with art making,” Soloway told TheWrap’s Matt Donnelly.
“I think because we’re so much more in there with trans folk we really understand the pain of how it feels to be trans and see a cis man portray a trans woman, and you know, slowly but surely the world is coming along and learning about authentic portrayals,” she said.
Soloway said authentic portrayals of the trans community require much representation.
“Writing, directing, shooting, telling their own stories,” she said. “If so many trans people had their own shows, and they were casting trans people in their own stories, this would probably be less of a stain.”