ELLE's Rhyannon Styles: 'When Will Hollywood Stop Casting Non-Transgender Actors In Transgender Roles?'

Following director Mark Ruffalo to actress Michelle Rodriguez, ELLE columnist Rhyannon Styles ​talks the on-going misrepresentation of the trans community in Hollywood

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ELLE's transgender columnist Rhyannon Styles has her word on the film industry's latest offense:

Roll film. Lights, camera...

Pause.

Oh wait, is that a man? Is that a man wearing a dress and pretending to be a woman? Is it pantomime season already? 

The film industry might perceive this as a non-issue, but for the trans community, the repeated casting of non-transgender actors in trans roles is tedious and offensive. 

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Last year, I wrote about Eddie Redmayne; cast as trans woman Lili Ebe in The Danish Girl. The year before, I spoke to my trans friends about Jared Leto playing a trans character in Dallas Buyers Club.

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I understand the Hollywood machine – it's a business. Top actors are employed to sell movies and make people rich.  

But, I'm angry.

Last week it was announced that, not one, but two new films have cast non-trans actors in trans roles.  Not one, but two new films include a transgender story line, which is great, but then why not cast a transgender actor.

If this wasn't bad enough, one of the films is called (Re) Assignment, in which an assassin is forced to undergo gender reassignment surgery by a rogue doctor. 

Bang.

Yet another trans character and storyline reduced to surgery and made all about genitalia.

If anyone is still of the opinion that a gender transition is as simple as a flick of the surgeon's knife, you are grossly misinformed.

Gender Reassignment Surgery is not something to have on a whim – it's a decision which takes years, an operation which takes months to recover from and a transition for which you need to psychologically and physically prepare yourself for for years, using hormones and therapy. 

But, Hollywood thinks differently and have cast Michelle Rodriguez in the role of the post-op trans woman.

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 #ReAssignment #TransLivesMatter

A photo posted by Elizabeth Marie Rivera (@elizabeth_lolita_ninja) on

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I don't care how stringent production teams think they have been about involving trans voices. The fact is, not enough trans faces are in front of the camera. 

On the same day, Mark Ruffalo revealed he had cast Magic Mike XXL Matt Bomer is his new film Anything, in which Matt will play a sex worker. 

Ouch.

So often, trans characters are stereotyped as hookers, waitresses, drug addicts, mistresses and fetish objects. Why are we continually portrayed this way?

When this news originally broke, and the trans community quite rightfully had something to say, so Ruffalo tweeted this:

This isn't a conversation, it's a one line script which hasn't been updated for years. 

A trans woman is a woman. So Matt Bomer, has been wrongfully cast. He can't wear a dress and simply be 'transgender' – it doesn't work like that. 

Discovering your own trans identity can take years, and it's only an experience which a trans person can relate to. 

What I discovered over the four years I've transitioned, is that it isn't about clothes and make-up. I could have as many pencil skirts as I wanted, but it didn't make me female. 

At the end of the day, once I've removed all my clothes and gone to bed naked, my trans identity and gender is my body. 

Don't get me wrong, that fact that trans story lines are appearing more in the mainstream is the only silver lining to this discussion. But, it needs to change.

I'd like to see one of the many professional, trained, capable trans actresses cast in the leading role. As a woman, nothing else…

Is that such an impossibility?

Action!

Watch Rhyannon chronicle her road to gender reassignment surgery below:

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