‘Three Generations’ Casts Cisgender Actress To Play M2F Trans Character

Three Generations, a new independent film exploring transgender identity within a family setting, will begin filming this week in New York, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story centers around three generations within one family, a male-born transgender son, his mother, and his grandmother. The characters will be depicted by actors Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, and Susan Sarandon, respectively.

Given the announcement that the role of the male-to-female transgender character will be played by cisgender female actress Fanning, the film will likely face serious criticism for the casting of her in the role of an individual born as a male who is wrestling all that goes along with the transition process.

Today, people are making their feelings known on the issue. Em Ray, a top commenter on The Advocate says, “Cis people playing transgender roles is as offensive as a white person in black face!”

Cathryn Mataga weighed in on the discussion over at The Advocate saying, “For a movie like this to actually do any good, it has to be about giving voice to trans people. Projects like this, they make people feel good and they get on the bandwagon, but they don’t give voice.”

Does the choosing of a cis-born woman to play a trans character mean the film’s producers feel that the audience is not be ready to see trans actresses in key roles? Recent events tell is that is hardly the case.

Lately in the U.S. we have witnessed an explosion in trans visibility on screen, generated mainly through fierce LGBT activism and libertarian political wins. This includes the rise of talents like trans male musician Chaz Bono and trans female actresses like Laverne Cox and Erika Ervin.

Over the past several years, transgender characters have finally entered mainstream Hollywood productions, yet female-to-male trans characters, until very recently, have most often been played by cisgender women. This includes Boys Don’t Cry’s Brandon Teena who was played by Hillary Swank, The L Word’s Max Sweeney played by Daniella Sea, Degrassi: The Next Generation’s Adam Torres played by Jordan Todosey, and Orphan Black’s Tony Sawicki portrayed by Tatiana Maslany.

With a year or so to go before production concludes on Three Generations, it still remains to be seen whether the film’s production team will change course and actively seek out trans people’s input in their portrayal of Fanning’s character.

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