Students at Oregon’s Reed College heckled lesbian filmmaker Kimberly Peirce during a recent screening of her seminal 1999 biopic Boys Don’t Cry.
Carrying posters that read “Fuck your transphobia” and “You don’t fucking get it” among other things,” the student protestors were angry Peirce had cast cisgender actress Hilary Swank, who won the Oscar for her performance, instead of a trans man.
Other were bothered by what they saw as the glorification of rape and violence against trans bodies, and a cis filmmaker “profiting” off the death of a transgender person.
Earlier, posters advertising Peirce’s appearance at Reed had been torn down.
USC professor Jack Halberstam reported that, protestors carried signs at the screening reading “You don’t fucking get it,” “Fuck Your Transphobia!” and “Trans Lives Do Not Equal $$.”
On the podium where Peirce was to speak was a placard that read “Fuck this cis white bitch!”
After the protestors continually shouted over her, the filmmaker left the room. She returned when rules were established for the discussion, but the event soon descended into name-calling again.
After one student yelled “Fuck you scared bitch,” they all filed out and Peirce left campus.
Dean of Faculty Nigel Nicholson condemned the demonstrators, stating that they “were not animated by the spirit of inquiry or the desire to learn that usually animates Reed audiences.”
“The students had already decided what they thought and came to the question-and-answer session to make their judgments known, not to listen and engage.”
Nicholson added that the students attempted to “dominate” the space and made it feel like “a courtroom, not a college.”
Peirce, who also directed 2013’s Carrie remake, has signed on to direct a screen adaptation of the Holocaust drama Man’s Search for Meaning.
Discussion around casting trans actors in trans narratives has heated up in recent years, with the release of The Danish Girl and the casting of Matt Bomer in Anything.
Halberstam counters that while “transgender actors should play transgender roles… that is not always possible—and certainly was a long shot at the time that Peirce made the film.”