The first trailer for a controversial film starring Matt Bomer as a transgender sex worker has been released.
In Anything, directed by Tim McNeil, Bomer plays Freda Von Rhenburg, a trans woman who befriends lonely widower Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch). The film, premiering in New York and L.A. on May 11, is based on McNeil’s 2007 play of the same name.
It’s been heavily criticized both for featuring a cisgender actor playing a trans woman, and for reinforcing the stereotype of trans women as sex workers.
Matt Bomer's complete lack of being trans really adds something to the role. Specifically it adds a heaping pile of bullshit.
— Magdalene Visaggio @ C2E2 R11 (@MagsVisaggs) June 14, 2017
“Every time a cis man gets applauded for bravely portraying a transgender woman on screen, every time he picks up an award for it while sporting a tuxedo, we’re reinforcing the belief that at the end of the day, a trans woman is still really a man,” trans actress Jen Richards wrote on NewNowNext. “If straight men hurting trans women is in any part due to a cultural belief that trans women are really men, then I have a moral imperative to challenge that.”
Bomer has not responded to the controversy but Mark Ruffalo, who is producing Anything, has previously said he understood the concerns. “To the trans community. I hear you,” he wrote in a tweet. “It’s wrenching to you see you in this pain. I am glad we are having this conversation.”
But he also claimed Bomer “poured his heart and soul into this part.”
Anything producer Kylene K. Steele, who is transgender, says some of the criticism levied at the film is unfair.
“I think when the trans community said some of the things they said, they didn’t realize they were attacking an ally,” Steele told IndieWire. “I hope people come with an open heart and an open mind… I hope they see it’s a human thing, seeing beauty in everything, [and] what love can do.”
She added that that trans actors should be able to play cis roles, and vice versa.
“You shouldn’t be judged by who the person’s gender is, if they can pretend and be the person that’s fit for the role, then that’s the way it should be. You don’t necessarily have to be trans to play a trans character.”