Transparent took home five Emmy’s–among them, Jefferey Tambor won Best Actor for his role as a trans woman. Transparent is a series about a trans woman Maura and her family trying to deal with the changes and issues that come with both having a trans parent and life in general.
Now, when I first realized I was trans I was ecstatic to learn of a show about someone who was also like myself. I immediately became a fan of the show; however, I was always slightly bothered by the fact they cast a male to play the role of a trans woman. At the time, I did not understand why it was upsetting, but as I grew and became educated I was finally able to comprehend why this was. Straight white men playing trans women is not making a step forward. When as a community and a movement you are so used to never being represented in the media it’s easy to misunderstand what is currently happening.
A straight male playing the role of a transgender woman is forming an idea that trans women are men in drag. This is not the case, a trans woman is not essentially a male in drag a trans woman is a woman so to have a male play the part again and again in a film only perpetuates the idea even more so. If you cast a male to play a woman what idea is given to viewers or what do viewers see? They see a man in women’s clothing, so you see why the confusion arises when a trans woman who is a woman, not a man, is never given validation or socially accepted as a woman.
Hear me out, I understand acting is acting and that’s fine I can accept that but I refuse to allow this to be called historic moment or “for the cause,” because it’s not. There are plenty of trans actors out there who can play these roles and finally be able to properly and adequately represent the trans community, this is helping no one, it’s not benefiting or educating the public and we shouldn’t be so eager to accept any representation we receive as a community.
Jill Soloway, who is the creator of the show and bases it loosely off her experience having a trans parent, also took an award last night. Solloway stated “We don’t have a trans tipping point yet. We have a trans civil rights problem,” and this couldn’t be a more accurate statement and representation of the current issues we face.