Tom Hooper’s upcoming film The Danish Girl has made headlines for its casting of cisgender male actor Eddie Redmayne in the role of Lili Elbe, one of the earliest known recipients of male-to-female gender reassignment surgery.
Back in November, 2014 Redmayne spoke with E! News about his preparations for the role:
I’m meeting many women from the trans community and hearing their experiences. I have put on dresses and wigs and makeup. I’m beginning to embark on that and trying to find out who she is.
As Jezebel’s Kat Callahan keenly noted at the time:
If you’ve been speaking to trans women, and by that I mean, listening to them, you should know that binary trans women are not defined as women by overt markers of culturally defined femininity.
Trans women, and even Elbe who appears from sources to have been pretty overtly femme, are not women because they put on dresses, wigs, and make up.
Trans women are women because sociocultural experiences and neurological/biological forces have intertwined organically to create gendered individuals who see their identity at odds with their assignment at birth.
Director Tom Hooper was recently asked by Variety about the controversial casting choice, replying that access to trans actors for both trans roles and cisgender roles is a problem.
“There is a huge pool of talented trans actors and the access to parts is limited,” he noted. “I would champion any shift where the industry could move forward and embrace trans actors in trans and cisgender roles and also celebrate and encourage trans filmmakers.”
He continued: “In terms of the casting of Eddie, I’m going to say something that would be easier to say if Eddie weren’t sitting next to me, but I think there is something in Eddie that’s drawn to the feminine.”
What do you make of Hooper’s claims: skirting the real issue or a valid claim?