The movie The Danish Girl, about trans pioneer Lile Elbe, has been floating around Hollywood for a long time, and over the years both cisgender men and women have been attached to the lead role. That continued with the incarnation that’s finally made in onto film, with Eddie Redmayne as Lili.
There has been some criticism of the fact a cisgender actor was cast in the role, and while some have defended it on the grounds that the movie covers Lili’s transition (without explaing why a trans actor couldn’t do this), now the movie’s director has been giving his reason.
After being asked by Variety about the difficulty for trans actor to find role – either trans or cisgender – he says, “There is a huge pool of talented trans actors and the access to parts is limited. I would champion any shift where the industry could move forward and embrace trans actors in trans and cisgender roles and also celebrate and encourage trans filmmakers.
“In terms of the casting of Eddie, I’m going to say something that would be easier to say if Eddie weren’t sitting next to me, but I think there is something in Eddie that’s drawn to the feminine.”
What he is almost certainly ignoring is the real reason – the commercial imperative – where in the world of film its far easier to get funding for a project if you have a ‘known’ name. Unfortunately though that leaves trans actors in a catch 22 situation, where they need to be famous to get the good roles, but the good roles go to cisgender people. Hopefully the likes of Laverne Cox can start to change things, but it’s going to be an uphill struggle, especially considering Hollywood has barely even started addressing its sexism problem yet.