Halle Berry pulls out of playing trans character following widespread criticism

After LGBT+ groups voiced their concerns over Halle Berry playing a trans character, the actress issued an apology and vowed to amplify representation.

Halle Berry trans character
Image: Gage Skidmore

Actress Halle Berry will no longer be considering the role of a trans man in an upcoming movie after receiving widespread criticism for misgendering the character during an Instagram live video. 

Last Friday, July 3, Berry discussed her interest in a new role as a trans man for an upcoming movie, however was not officially cast. During an Instagram live interview, she outlined the story as following “a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man.”

Berry further shared with viewers her interest in taking a “deep dive” into “that world.” She said, “Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project.”

Following the Instagram live interview, LGBT+ people and groups criticised the actress for misgendering the character as well as the problematic nature of a cis person centering themselves in a trans persons’ story. The Twitter account for Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen asked Berry to watch their documentary to “understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”

The documentary Disclosure discusses the issue of a cis person playing a trans role through an in-depth analysis of the Danish Girl. Further examples of the problems behind this casting process can be seen in March 2020, when a musical adaption of Breakfast on Pluto came under fire for their attempts to justify the casting of a cisgender man in the lead role of trans woman. 

Disclosure’s official Twitter page has further spoken about the importance of casting trans people to play trans roles, “Today is a good day to remind people that casting trans actors in trans roles is more than about opportunity.”

Following calls for Berry to reconsider this role, the actress released an apology on Monday. She shared, “Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologise for those remarks.”

Berry further expressed, “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”

Queer people and groups thanked the actress for “listening and learning” across social media. LGBT+ rights organisation GLAAD said, “We are pleased that Halle Berry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same. A good place to start is by watching Disclosure to learn about trans representation in media.”

Actor Brian Michael Smith wrote on Twitter, “Thank you for hearing us and for taking the time to listen and understand our concerns. Furthermore, I appreciate your vow to take action and use your platform to promote better representation and opportunities for marginalized artists on both sides of the lens.”

While the actress was praised for vowing to use her platform as a way of amplifying representation both on and off-screen, many highlighted that her apology overlooked misgendering a trans person. One Twitter user wrote, “Glad Halle Berry dropped out of playing a trans man, but of note, her apology in no way touches on the fact she repeatedly referred to the character with “She/Her” pronouns, and called it “a woman’s story”. Her apology doesn’t show an understanding about why that was wrong.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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