Laverne Cox is fortunate that the producers of Orange is the New Black were open to the concept of a trans woman playing a transgender character, but, as the actress shares, that’s not always the case. Cox now urges television producers and filmmakers to cast more trans actors in trans roles to better educate the public about the transgender experience and eliminate transphobia.
Laverne Cox Says Male Actors Playing Trans Women Is Creating A Bigger Problem
Rolling Out reports that there’s a very specific reason Laverne Cox doesn’t want men playing trans women in film and television and it has to do with the image it presents to audiences. Cox acknowledges that Jeffrey Tambor and Jared Leto have brilliantly portrayed transgender characters, but adds that it’s not the performance that creates the problem. When the public then sees those actors accept awards for their films as the men that they are, perhaps even wearing a fully grown beard, it sends the message that trans women are really men.
Why does public perception matter so much?
Laverne says one reason is that it can create dangerous situations for trans women in their relationships. Men unfamiliar with the trans experience can become frustrated with the idea that they’re really with a man, raising issues of latent homophobia and transphobia.
In turn, that can lead to violent encounters.
Transgender Actors Can Create Greater Empathy For The Trans Experience
According to The Huffington Post, Laverne sees her success on Orange is the New Black and as an actress in general as a big stepping stone to bringing greater understanding to the transgender community. She says audiences have developed empathy for her as a trans woman, even beyond her role as Sophia Burset, because the role helps viewers gain a better understanding of what it means to be a trans woman.
Laverne credits Orange is the New Black for bringing about social change in the transgender community but adds that there’s still a long way to go. Ms. Cox suggests that by casting more transgender actors, society will grow more accustomed to the trans experience and that will eventually contribute to eliminating transphobia.
Ms. Cox would also like to see trans actors playing non-trans characters, suggesting that seeing trans performers in a variety of roles will also help public understanding.
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