Matt Bomer & Mark Ruffalo didn’t react well when accused of ‘transface’


Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo worked together on The Normal Heart a few years ago, and they became friends. They said a lot of nice things about each other in the press, and you got the feeling that they just had a lot of respect for each other. It’s no secret that Bomer is a gay man – he’s happily married and he and his husband are parents to three beautiful children. Bomer is still a cisgendered white guy though, which means there was a lot of backlash when Mark Ruffalo had a hand in casting Bomer as a transgender woman in the upcoming film Anything. Ruffalo is a producer on the film, and Bomer’s casting was announced earlier this week, although it seems the film has already been shot, or is already in production.

There was a backlash against Bomer’s casting, and it’s been heating up all week. What Bomer is doing is considered “transface” in the trans community. I don’t know how or when “transface” was coined, but it’s brilliant. It forced me (and I suspect many other people) to confront the reality of what Hollywood is doing. There are trans actors who would love to play trans characters, but those parts are so often going to cisgendered actors who do a “makeover” to make themselves “look transgendered.” It IS transface, comparable to blackface. A trans actor named Jamie Clayton tweeted Bomer post-casting decision, writing: “I really hope you both choose to do some actual good for the trans community one day.” And Bomer blocked Clayton on Twitter! So… not good.

After that happened, Ruffalo defended the casting choice in a series of tweets, trying to walk the fine line between defending his friend and trying to be a supportive and woke ally to the trans community.

While I believe Ruffalo is genuinely trying to be an ally – and he often succeeds at being an ally – I also have a problem with Ruffalo telling a historically marginalized and denigrated community that THEY need to have compassion. That a marginalized community needs to change their behavior and outlook to make it easier for cisgendered white men. Nope.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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166 Responses to “Matt Bomer & Mark Ruffalo didn’t react well when accused of ‘transface’”

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  1. Lucy says:

    I love them both and I’m sure they mean well, but they may have to think this through. The conversation is great, but action is what’s truly needed.

    • kay says:

      What do they need to think through? They can cast whoever they want and they don’t owe trans people anything. They shouldn’t even respond to twitter complaints. And The trans people saying that only trans people should play trans parts need to remember that and not to expect to be cast as a man or a women. Since Bomer is gay they should get rid of the trans part and just leave the character as a gay man. These 2 men don’t owe trans people anything and let them complain

      • fille says:

        They need to think through the implications of the art they are creating. That’s sort of a pretty important part of creating art. The implications in their case are enormous, and have been explained to them by multiple trans people, including Jen Richards, who wrote them both an enlightening series of Tweets on the matter.
        And no, of course they they are not obligated to cast anyone in any role. But, analogously, no, no one is obligated to not criticise their casting choices or consume the product they create through them.
        And no, the trans men and women who are critical of their casting choices are no less men and women and should no less expect to be cast as men and women.

  2. Pandy says:

    I think that the reality in Hollywood is that in order for a movie to be made, there needs to be a “name” attached to it – especially for stories that may not be “mainstream”. Bomer has the name recognition.

    • Megan says:

      This is new territory for many people. Having a macho, well known actor portray a transperson makes the movie accessible to a wider audience. Will the studios make the same decision a few years from now? I hope not.

      Also, I don’t want trans actors to get pigeonholed into playing trans characters. They should be cast just like cisgender actors.

      • wat says:

        Macho? Lol.

      • Naya says:

        I’m not convinced that Bomer is particularly macho but assuming that he is, that makes this casting even worse. This movie is essentially asserting that a transwoman is just a macho guy in a dress.

        I’m also finding it very hard to believe that BARELY internet famous guy like Matt Bomer would draw more attention than actually casting a real transperson. If OINB taught us anything, it’s that. Matt Bomer is such a nobody greenlight-wise that with distinctly leading man looks, he never scores the lead in any major films. Remember that far more internet famous types than him still struggle to sell tickets. They didn’t cast him for his name, they cast him because he is pretty and therefore easy to transface. It never occupied to them to look beyond standard white male.

    • Mia4S says:

      “Bomer has the name recognition.”

      Eh, kind of? Look, I was a huge White Collar fan but he has not exactly set the world on fire since. Ryan Murphy certainly takes care of his friends but both Normal Heart and American Horror Story would have been fine with or without him. It’s a consideration sure but even then, there were other roles to be cast.

    • Wren says:

      I think it has quite a lot to do with this. Bomer is a “proven” actor with a name, and studios like that. Hollywood isn’t exactly synonymous with “risk taking” as far as movie making and casting go. Not too long ago this movie wouldn’t even make it past the first script pitch, now it’s getting (been?) made. Perhaps reserve harsh judgment until we’ve seen the final product. Maybe the story is told with grace. If so, it’s still a step forward for a stodgy and regressive industry.

      Blaming these two men specifically for an industry wide problem is counterproductive, in my opinion. By all means, point it out and make them part of the conversation, but remember this is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Getting personal with vile comments isn’t going to change anything. This is new territory, there isn’t protocol (or if there is, it’s terrible), and everyone, not just Hollywood, is figuring out what to do on a societal level.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I am conflicted on this. Looking at Matt’s career, IMO, I do have to wonder if his sexuality has held him back from being cast in more roles. He’s talented, he’s gorgeous, and it sounds like he is a pleasure to work with. Why isn’t he being cast as the leading man in films? So I am glad for him that he was given an opportunity in Mark’s film.

      At the same time, I understand what the transcommunity is saying. They aren’t represented well at all.

      I don’t really know what the right answer is in this situation.

      • Naya says:

        It’s precisely because he may be a victim of a glass ceiling that its ridiculous that he would even consider this role. A marginalized person participating in the marginalization of others?

        I see him at a lot of Glaad events on Queerty, I doubt he is unaware that transface is problematic or that there are many trans performers who would love these roles. I bet you he knows. I bet you he didn’t think the people would rise up. I bet you he was expecting an Eddie Redmayne ride to a few awards. Transface is the new award nomination guarantee and Matt saw an easy path for himself. It’s good old naked selfish ambition

  3. Ashley says:

    I don’t really want to fault Ruffalo mainly because I find this to be new territory. I myself had never even heard of transface so i’m still learning as well as much of the world let only Hollywood.

    • eto says:

      Meh Hollywood loves to brag that they are enlightened and more progressive than mainstream USA so I’m not convinced

      • Lucky jane says:

        @Eto… This is exactly what I was thinking. I don’t understand people acting so surprised or outraged. This is Hollywood. They have young women play the parts of moms because no one wants to see a 40 year old woman. They have thin women gain weight to play heavier women… Because no one wants to watch a heavy woman (I think of Bridget Jones’ diary). These people aren’t exactly the beacon of inclusion despite how they want it to seem.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        “They have young women play the parts of moms because no one wants to see a 40 year old woman.” …”These people aren’t exactly the beacon of inclusion despite how they want it to seem.”

        Is it “these people” who make the films who are driving the truck here? Or rather, is it the needs of the PUBLIC and what they will devote their eyes and dollars to that are determining how casting is approached? How can you blame “these people” for the casting, when you also admit that “no one wants to see a 40 year old woman.”?

        If Americans as a whole changed their viewing habits, then the product would change to meet those demands. The entertainment industry certainly has some responsibility in the matter, but at the end of the day it is a business. How well a product sells determines how the next one is made.

      • Lucky jane says:

        @tiffany… I should have worded that better… When I said “no one wants to see a 40 yr old woman” I meant, that’s a Hollywood thing. I don’t have issue with watching 40 year old women or heavy women etc.
        I was commenting on anyone being surprised when Hollywood perpetuates all sorts of crazy ideas already, such as how women are useless after a certain age or useless if they aren’t young, tall, thin etc.
        But you are dead on about who is driving the truck… If people quit spending their money… Yes… Things would be reevaluated.
        Again… I couldn’t get too upset because most of Hollywood is hypocrites and phonies. They pretend for a living.

    • QueenB says:

      there were a lot of movies like this recently, Jared Leto, The Danish Girl etc and discussions about it. it was really hard to miss it, specifically if you do a movie like this.
      if you are a regular person you might have missed it but if you are even vaguely interested in movies you heard about it.
      And if you do such a movie, why not look into it before?

      Ruffalo certainly heard about it and his image is that of a liberal, so we can all expect more of him.

      • Bridget says:

        I kind of disagree there – it’s easy to forget that if you don’t frequent parts of the interwebs, some things aren’t as obvious. Like Tom Hiddleston’s fame.

      • QueenB says:

        Bridget: i dont expect that from a regular person but if you make a movie about it and are in an industry where there just recently was a discussion about it do expect it.

    • kay says:

      I never heard of transface until i read this article. It is ridiculous. Actors play all kinds of roles. This will backfire on the trans people because directors will simply cut the part

    • ladysussex says:

      I don’t fault him either. In the current climate, you step in it no matter what you do. Btw, does this mean that all drag queens are now doing “trans-face”? Should every role now only be played by someone who is actually living a life like the character? All of the arguments I read on here these days expressing outrage for black actresses not being black enough, only trans actors can play trans characters, etc. So is it ok for a seeing actor to play a role of a blind character, or must casting directors now seek out a blind actor? Should a role of a character with the left leg amputated only be played by an actual amputee with the left leg amputated, lest left-leg amputees and SJW’s become outraged? These arguments are absurd to me, and I worry that we’ve lost our ever loving minds.

  4. Shirleygail says:

    The Normal Heart broke my heart. It was brilliantly done, though very hard to watch. I remember those days (somewhat vaguely, I admit, as I was still busy looking for love in all the wrong places as a very young woman). It was HUGE when Princess Di held hands with a man with AIDS. Huge.

    I tend to trust Mark. I believe he knew he could get a consistent performance from Matt, so went with what he knew. Most of these kinds of decisions are based on economics.

  5. HH says:

    Much like casting someone who isn’t disabled to play someone disabled


    casting someone who isn’t Persian to play someone Persian


    casting someone who isn’t Polynesian to play someone Polynesian


    casting someone who isn’t Egyptian to play an Egyptian


    casting someone who isn’t an old Black lady to play an old Black lady

    I. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT.

    ETA: I really like Ruffalo, so it’s hard to see typical Hollywood thought processes from him. When a movie is about portraying and exploring the experiences of someone from a particular community, it’s frustrating that their first thoughts are not to find someone from that community. It baffles the mind. This goes for Hollywood all the way around.

    • Erinn says:

      I am a reccent Ruffalo convert. I really like the guy, but didn’t used to care for him. Reading interviews from him pulled me over.

      Honestly … I think he does try, and I do think his intentions are good. Likely though,, there’s a certain amount of disconnect still. He probably thought “who do I know who would really take this role to heart and turn out a great performance. Maybe Matt would be up for it”. I feel like that’s probably the way he was thinking. Who do I KNOW is a good actor. Who do I KNOW who could turn in a good performance. I’d almost bet he didn’t think further than the people he already knew and worked with, which IS a problem when it comes to casting for these kinds of parts. I think he was genuinely focused on finding someone who would do a good job, but still missing the fact that there are trans actors out there who would kill for a role like this.

      Hopefully this will get him to think a little more before making decisions like this. I think he’s probably the kind of person who IS going to take this in, and try to do better next time. It’s just a shame that he missed this opportunity.

      • HH says:

        Yeah, I definitely think his intentions were good. It’s just weird how people want to tell stories so specific to a community (a marginalized one at that), and not think to include/audition/cast individuals from said community.

    • tegteg says:

      All of the racial things, I get. Like, don’t cast a white person to play an Egyptian. The transface argument makes sense. But the don’t cast a nondisabled person to play a disabled person I don’t really get…. like, Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot – you think that someone with cerebral palsy had to be cast in that role? Anybody can become handicapped or disabled, so I guess that’s why it’s harder for me to understand. I’ve just always thought that with disabilities it’s about getting their story and struggle out there and, in many cases, that wouldn’t be possible with a severely disabled person unless it’s a documentary. So then you would have to have a less disabled person “acting” more disabled? My younger brother is severely autistic – there is no way another severely autistic person could play him in a movie. So, would it be okay then for a slightly autistic person to “act” more autistic? In my mind, a “normal” actor or an autistic actor would still have to be “acting” severely autistic, so either choice would be okay for me. I’m not trying to be offensive, as I’ve said my own brother is disabled, and I think Hollywood does need to be more inclusive of other races and the disabled, but I have just never thought that a disabled person has to be played by another disabled person. IDK, to be honest I’ve never thought about this (I have thought about the racial aspect) and now I’m confused and conflicted. Thoughts and comments welcome and appreciated- I am open minded and wanting to learn.

      • eto says:

        RJ Mitte did a great job in Breaking Bad 🙂

      • tegteg says:

        @eto Very True. I guess at this point, this is the only way that disabled people are going to have a shot at getting roles, so I’m on board with it. I hate to think of talented people like RJ not getting opportunities and then having to see a nondisabled person playing someone with cerebral palsy or something. When I’ve thought about it previously, a normal person playing someone severely autistic (like my brother) could be an eye-opening experience for them, which would be a good thing… but when I’m thinking about it now, if that is at the cost of an autistic person who suffers with the disability every day and doesn’t have the same opportunities, then I don’t think it’s right. I think if my brother had a say in the matter, he would rather an autistic person get the opportunity.

      • Lucrezia says:

        I think it depends on whether we’re talking about a purely physical disability or not. You couldn’t cast someone with Alzheimer’s or someone with severe Autism and expect them to hit their cues.

        But if they write in a wheelchair-bound character as a token gesture towards being inclusive but then have that character played by an able-bodied person … well, then I have a problem with it. You don’t get to pat yourself on the back for being inclusive if your token character isn’t even a real minority.

      • HH says:

        I agree that a mental disability would be harder to cast. I was definitely thinking in terms of physical disability. In particular, there was a recent Vogue Brazil magazine shoot that was celebrating the ParaOlympics and instead of casting the real athletes, or other disabled people for the shoot, they case able-bodied individuals and then photoshopped the disabilities! WHAT?!

        Like Lucrezia said, people want a pat on the back for being inclusive, however, it’s still an act of making these individuals invisible if you don’t actually consider THEM for these roles/parts/auditions.

      • Shark Bait says:

        It certainly depends upon the disability in question. A lot of able bodied actors are used to play characters with certain disabilities when that would have been a great opportunity for a actor with said disability to get a role.

      • hunter says:

        On this topic let’s not forget Leonardo Dicaprio’s performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I seriously literally had NO IDEA it was him until a couple years ago.

        I walked out of that movie thinking, “how did they get that kid to do lines on cue?”

        He was that good. It’s called ACTING and it’s what they’re paid for.


      SO. SIMPLE.

      My favorite is when people say, “Well maybe they didn’t audition for the role.” and then an individual who IS actually a member of that group goes “NOPE. Auditioned. Poured my heart out. Went to the white male.”

      • kay says:

        It doesn’t matter if someone from a certain group auditions for a part or not, the casting agents are going to pick who they want, you don’t get to pick but you can decide not to watch the finished product.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      What about casting a woman who is gay in a role for someone who is not gay? Six Days, Seven Nights… There was such talk about casting Anne Heche as a love interest for Harrison Ford (I believe). I don’t think it was fair to suggest she couldn’t play the role. It’s acting. It’s their job.

      There’s a difference between matching physical characteristics and matching the mind and behaviour of the character. Portraying the mind and behaviour of a character is pretty well the definition of acting.

      • HH says:

        IMO, this is still different when talking about marginalized communities. Lesbians in comparison to straight women, have far less chances in acting. So they are not taking MUCH away from a straight actress. However, when a straight women gets cast for the minimal amount of lesbian and/or bisexual parts out there, it does have an impact. Furthermore, those in marginalized groups often see the world very differently. So, depending on the role, it would be more detrimental. For example, when actors change/edit lines in a script because it doesn’t feel real or is not a reaction appropriate for the scene. Given the unique view being a marginalized member of society gives an individual, I’m sure they have more insight into the actions/reactions and lines a character would say. This is particularly an issue when roles are written that follow a stereotype, and no one is around to say, “Stop. This is incorrect.”

      • Naya says:

        I would hope the debate around that movie would center on the fact that Anne Heche was several decades younger than her “love interest” Harrison Ford but that would be hoping for too much.

      • Ennie says:

        Naya, it was Harrison Ford. I was a teen when The return of the Jedi came to my country and I fell in love with his old self. I am a 46 year old and he is still my crush. Age difference be damned (I am actually married to a man 10 years younger than me btw).

      • Veronica says:

        That’s a little different because roles for marginalized populations are much fewer. If minority actors only played the parts that specifically fit them, they’d have very brief, non-starter careers. Part of the problem is needing to expand our repertoire of what we consider worthwhile protagonists. The other part is acknowledging that the dearth of roles for these groups means casting a non-member of the community is all the more egregious.

    • HH says:

      Also, I’d like to add that this is particularly troublesome for the trans community. As people have pointed out, there are already issues of people assuming it’s just men/women “playing dress up.” The idea that trans is performance one can turn on/off or remove. So the idea that actual cisgender individuals are getting cast to “perform” trans, adds to this notion (even if it’s implicit).

      • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

        Ok. But portraying Alzheimer’s, autism, a rocket scientist, a murderer… None of these things require an actor that has that mind and that experience.

        It is unfair that trans performers don’t get more opportunities. Aside from the chicken and egg problem that Hollywood always wants a “name” in a role and you can’t have a name without getting roles, the deck is stacked against trans actors and when such a “good fit” role comes along it would be preferable to give the trans actor a chance, like say Orange is the New Black did. I agree with this.

        I’m just disagreeing with the general notion that an actor has to be so literally the character being played. There are justifications a trans actor should be preferred for the role but this expectation of literalness isn’t the best of the arguments.

      • HH says:

        Alzheimer’s, autism, rocket scientist, murderer are generic characteristics. Anyone can be cast for the them because identity doesn’t factor in the same way it would with race/ethnicity, sexuality, and other typically marginalized groups and communities.

    • Val says:

      While there is definitely a racial problem in Hollywood (and in general), let me throw in this Devil’s Advocate question: where we draw the line between reality and acting?
      Does every actor have to match exactly the character he/she is playing? Taking an extreme point of view: are we going to reach a point where there is no difference between acting and reality tv?
      I’m not talking about whitewashing in films, but specifically something like playing a disability or a straight person playing a gay person and vice-versa. I think it’s an interesting discussion.

      • HH says:

        While the issue is about “who plays who” and appropriate casting, it is also about VISIBILITY. If Hollywood overall was more inclusive and there was representation from a variety of groups/communities, there could be more diversity of choices in casting. However, when there are incredibly few roles that come up for marginalized groups, it is particularly detrimental to give those roles to someone in dominant group. If we could reach a place of solid representation and visibility for people, I think we’d see less backlash.

        ETA: Also see my comment to Jay. It explains a little more. My fingers are tired.

    • Sarah says:

      While I do respect what you are saying, isn’t that the whole point of acting? Becoming someone else? If all actors only play what they are in real life, doesn’t that defeat the point of acting? I think the issue is that there needs to be more opportunities for others, not that everyone can only play their own gender/race/ethnicity etc.

  6. Mia4S says:

    There was a lot of push back during Jared Leto’s whole (ridiculous) Oscar run; that was the first time I heard “transface”. I definitely see the point; these cisgender men are being rewarded as “brave” for portraying transgender women, when transgender actresses don’t even get a shot. Somehow it’s even worse when the character has already transitioned and you cannot even argue you needed a “before”. Good for the trans performers speaking out.

    • T.Fanty says:

      It also suggests that trans is a performance, and that underneath it all, there is a man. This is a MASSIVE problem and reaffirms the basis of most prejudice and homophobia against trans women. It is rightly a big deal.

      • Marty says:

        GREAT point T. Fanty. I posted a link making a similar point.

      • tegteg says:

        Very insightful, thank you for that comment.

      • Lucrezia says:

        Yeah, this is a double-layered insult. It would still have been transface if they’d cast a cis-female, but casting a cis-male is particularly insulting. At least with the Danish Girl they had the excuse of having to show both sides of the transition which makes things complicated. From what I can gather about this movie, it’s just Bomer’s character post transition … why on earth cast a male to play a female?

      • Bob says:

        “It also suggests that trans is a performance, and that underneath it all, there is a man.”

        I understand why some people worry that this is so, but I don’t believe it is how this actually works. The audience understands that it is watching a performance. Angie Harmon playing a lawyer on law and order does not cause the audience to believe that underneath it all, lawyers are idiot actors from Texas.

        If anything, I’d expect that framing the issue as “transface” will reinforce bias against trans women because, well, it’s kind of absurd. It’s basically trans women trying to apply the argument that TERFs use against them against cis men instead. That’s self defeating and all it does is draw attention to the fact that trans women were not visibly born that way at all. A great deal of gender *is* performance, for all of us.

        The difference between Matt Bomer, AMAB playing a trans woman character in Anything and Jamie Clayton, AMAB, playing a trans woman in Sense8 is completely interior. To me, the key to respecting trans folks is respecting that interiority, not policing the circumstances under which it is acceptable for people AMAB to present themselves as women.

      • Naya says:


        You give the audience too much credit. One of the biggest challenges that transwomen face is violence from straight men who experience an attraction to them followed by “gay panic”. That tells us that they consider transwomen as men in costume. Gay men who pretend to be women. Kind of like what Bomer will do in that movie. A movie intended to be sympathetic to the trans experience is basically reinforcing one of the most dangerous myths around being trans.

      • T.Fanty says:


        As Naya says. This particular issue isn’t about the audience, it’s about reaffirming a misguided belief that trans women aren’t really women, but men performing women. It’s about undermining the belief that a person can reconstruct their gender and that they are not defined by biological sex.

        Also, by hiring specifically a gay man to play a trans woman, it underscores all that Naya says about the “gay panic.”

        Ruffalo generally knows better than this. I trust he understands that he screwed up.

      • Shark Bait says:

        @Naya… that is an excellent point that helps to put this all in perspective. Being transgender is not simply putting on a costume or playing man or woman.

      • Bob says:

        @Naya, I think you’re giving Hollywood far too much credit. Straight men don’t experience gay panic because Hollywood casts cis men to play trans women, they experience gay panic when they realize they are sexually attracted to someone who has (or had) a penis. And the more I watch the conversation around “transface” unfold, the more convinced I am that this a huge intersectionality FAIL on the part of trans women and their allies in this particular discussion. The answer to gay panic is not “ITS NOT GAY BECAUSE I’M A WOMAN.” That will not work on the troglodyte mind that is subject to gay panic. Especially when the woman in question, yes, has a penis.

        The answer to gay panic is “there’s nothing wrong with a man liking dick.” That’s the key thing those guys need to get through their thick heads. Once they’ve accepted that, then you can begin to work on “there’s nothing gay about being sexually attracted to a woman who has or had a dick, she’s still a woman.”

        I feel like this entire “transface leads to violence” is subtly and unavoidably reinforcing the idea that it would be totally ok to beat up a gay man presenting as a woman.

      • Val says:

        I think that’s a great point Bob… it’s a general societal problem – that “fear of gay” that some men have, and the violence as a response to sexuality, violence as a reaction to shame… There’s a huge underlying problem that isn’t being examined.

  7. Snarkweek says:

    Not sure there’s any justification for this. Sorry Ruffalo. Love ya though.

  8. Bluebelle says:

    Maybe I’m not educated enough on this topic and I’m not looking to offend anyone, but this has been done before without this kind of backlash. Felicity Huffman in Transamerica? Redmayne in the Danish girl? You can’t please everyone. I’m sure Bomer did a great job on this, he’s a great actor, and his casting is not an F-you to transgender people who want to make it in the industry.

    • Locke Lamora says:

      I think with Redmayne was a bit different because there was a portion of the movie where he portrayed the before. I suppose they could have used two different actors.
      But just because it has been done before doesnt mean we should keep doin it.

    • Mia4S says:

      The Danish Girl was a bit different as that was someone going back and forth; even then I recall some comments.

      TransAmerica was 11 years ago! The times and public awareness have changed.

    • SM says:

      It would be nice of them to give a chance to a trans actor to be on screen. However demanding trans people to play trans people on screen is a bit the same as saying that straight person can not portray a homosexual, or that gay actors should only play gay people. Off the top of my head I can not name one great love story (between a man and a woman where a gay person is playing one of the parts). The work of an actor is to create a make-believe/simulate and/or represent reality, to immerse in the character, not translate his/her own experience on screen. The same with black, Asian, Hispanic actors – they should be cast because of their acting talent and because they fit the role, and not be reduced to parts specifically written as black, Asian or Hispanic characters in the story. I would love to see for example a man transitioning to a woman playing a role of a woman. That would be a great thing.

      • eto says:

        I think you have to start somewhere? Minority roles used to be played by white actors then it shifted to minorities in minority roles and is still (at glacial speed) shifting to minorities in any role. So I agree that pigeonholing isn’t great, but this could have been a start.

      • Ennie says:

        There was a hush hush that some good actors were gay back in the time of the studio contracts.
        Some movies come to my mind that have gay men in the lead, but we do not know much about lesbian actresses, maybe Greta Garbo?
        The movie Giant (with Liz Taylor)comes to mind, and some other nice movies with Rock Hudson. There were rumors about Cary Grant, one of my beloved.
        Montgomery Clift and also Liz Taylor, A place in the Sun is also a good love story.
        There are more but can’t remember.
        I’d prefer more realness to the acting, like casting a Mexican for a Mexican role, but I also understand a little how business works, and they’d prefer a more established name. It is work ,a check and al that comes with it. Hard to say not to it.
        I wonder how many movie leads have Mexican actors had in Hollywood? They are lucky they get offered anything at all, or if a “Latin” role is thrown in the script.
        Maybe more stories with gender/sexual minorities need to be told.
        about racism, I read an interesting article where it said that if an African American director (instead of Steve Macqueen) would’ve directed 12 years a slave, the Lupita Nyong’o with her dark skin would probably not have been cast, that African American directors tend to cast lighter actresses, and darker actors as villains. That was interesting.

    • QueenB says:

      first of all there was blacklash and even if there wasnt would that be ok then? you could shut down anything with him “well no one complained about it before” if no one ever started complaining about blackface we would be watching Tom Hanks as Nelson Mandela winning an Oscar.

    • Bluebelle says:

      I understand now, yes, times have changed for the better. I would be pissed if who I am couldn’t be represented by people like me.

  9. Nicole says:

    I don’t know if transface is comparable to blackface in reality so no on that point. But I get the term. I’m guessing Mark is asking for compassion in some of the really offensive tweets hurled Matt’s way not the one embedded here.
    Anyways while Hollywood is taking baby steps they have a long way to go. But I believe mark when he said he cast Bomer after working with him on TNH (which was gut wrenching btw).

    • fille says:

      They’re forms of oppression that centre around different aspects of identity and have a different history, so obviously they’re different. But they’re also both forms of behaviour that contribute to immense degrees of disenfranchisement and oppression, including the perpetuation of abuse, rape and murder against those whose identities they treat as a commodity, so they’re also similar. It just depends on what aspects of them you’re discussing. I wouldn’t call them equivalent, but I would call them comparable in certain ways.

  10. Saartjie says:

    To play devil’s advocate here – the experience of being trans is one of transitioning between genders. So having an actor who is not trans playing a trans role, but experimenting with portraying another gender, could potentially be quite insightful?

    That said, where I have seen actual trans actors cast in trans roles, it does bring something interesting to the work, and it would be nice to see that happen more often. Eh, I suppose I am conflicted on this one.

    • eto says:

      Being trans is not “portraying another gender”

    • fille says:

      At most, a trans person could be said to have an experience of transitioning from being perceived as of one gender into being perceived as of another, not of actually transitioning from one gender to another. That’s an experience a trans actress is much more likely to have than a cis actor.

  11. aims says:

    I love mark. I love his politics , his attitude about a lot of things. That being said, I do agree with the Trans community reaction to the casting . I feel that if you want to honestly represent people, you should do so honestly . I do love both Mark and Matt, they’re both wonderful people.

  12. Locke Lamora says:

    This is another example of white rich male Hollywood liberals reacting badly when people point out their actions are not perfect.

    This is new territory however, and I never heard about the term myself, but then when people point out your wrongdoings, don’t ask them to have compassion.

  13. Jellybean says:

    Oh for goodness sake! Just because there are a few actors out there who exactly match the profile of a character, it doesn’t mean to say they are good actors, able to carry a film.

    • La Ti Da says:

      +1 I’m kind of surprised that point isn’t being raised more. Perhaps they always had Bomer in mind for the part, perhaps while working together he did something to convince Ruffalo that he could really pull this role off, perhaps casting HAD auditioned trans actors and they simply weren’t talented enough. We don’t know either way, but I find it absurd everyone immediately assumes the worst.

      • Val says:

        Does anyone actually know Bomer’s story (other than he is an openly gay man?) maybe he understands part of the trans struggle better than people would think.
        I understand the point of the trans community, but I think that, at a time when society is finally starting to become more accepting, they should be eh… more patient (perhaps?) with the development of culture to acceptance. Hope that makes sense.

  14. QueenB says:

    its bad enough but i am more mad with Bomer as he blocked people calling him out on it.

    • Colette says:

      Matt unblocked Jamie Clayton two days ago but Jamie has yet to address her followers/supporters who continue to post nasty tweets shaming Matt for taking a role in a movie.

    • La Ti Da says:

      Why should he have to subject himself to criticism and abuse for being cast in a part? What did Bomer do wrong except be a successful working actor? He doesn’t want to allow his career or Twitter feed to be hijacked as one more chance to “have the conversation”. By all means discuss it but do so with the people actually responsible for the decision. I’d like to see how many people would be hitting “block” if they were hired for a dream job and the other applicant started having a go at them on Facebook or Twitter.

  15. eto says:

    Finally! It has bothered me every single time a cisgender actor has played a transgender role. When things like this happen (like when SNL had an “issue” with finding black female comedians) I hate that the conversation always turns to – “maybe there aren’t any good transgender actors”.

    I know plenty myself who struggle immensely to make a living in an industry that loves to dramatize their struggle but loathes to actually cast them. The industry never gives them a mainstream opportunity and then turns around and says the need someone with more “experience and name recognition”.

    Blah – sorry for the rant.

    • Lyka says:

      Nah, you’re dead on.

      I NEVER saw brown people on TV or in the movies as a kid. At most, it was white men in self-tanner playing South Asians and Middle Easterners. And that crap STILL happens! I don’t ever agree with the level of vitriol that comes out through Twitter sometimes, but if we’re going to call foul on whitewashing in Hollywood (as we rightly should), we ought to be just as outraged about transface. This isn’t okay.

  16. Bridget says:

    Last I saw the person criticising them the most pointedly and articulately was actually really positive about Ruffalo actually participating in the conversation in a way that showed he understood that he may have screwed up, and hopefully he actually follows through on meeting with her.

  17. honeybee blues says:

    I believe the “compassion” he is requesting is regarding the learning curve. He even stated it. One of my closest friends of many years is a transgendered woman (I even purchased my house last year in her HOA so I see her daily), and this is the first time I’ve heard the term “transface.” It’s too early to call her for her take on this, but will report back once I do. Again, I think MR is being gracious and honest about his ignorance, and as such, we now all know about this issue. I’m sure many in HW are paying attention. And actress Jamie Clayton posting: “I really hope you both choose to do some actual good for the trans community one day” is annoyingly passive aggressive. That in a non-statement, and I would have blocked her as well. If you have a point, make it.

    • lucy2 says:

      I don’t know if “compassion” was the right word, but I agree about the learning curve. I don’t think Mark is a bad guy, I think in general he seems to be a caring and considerate guy, but he made a mistake here – what’s good is that he’s willing to be part of the discussion, learn from it, and do better. Learning is a part of progress.

    • Val says:

      Sorry to bring this up but, when you’re in the type of society that glorifies Caitlyn Jenner, maybe it should be a bigger discussion of why someone like her gets to represent the trans community (Miss Homophobic “The hardest part about being a woman is choosing what to wear”), rather than someone sensitive and respectful like Matt Bomer.

  18. Pepper says:

    Matt’s been getting a lot of really vile, homophobic comments across social media since the casting announcement. I suspect Mark’s ‘compassion’ comment was said with that in mind.

    Literally up until this was announced, it was generally accepted that the only reason Matt isn’t a bigger star is because he’s gay. He’s gorgeous, he’s a great actor when given a shot at good material and he has range, yet he doesn’t have half the career the wooden Cavill’s and Hemsworths of the world have. It’s easy to see why he would take this role, it’s likely the only meaty role he’s been offered in a couple of years. It’s still a bad choice, but this isn’t really the same as an actor who’s offered 10 great films a year choosing to accept a trans role.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I almost fell off my chair when you just compared him to Cavill and Hemsworth. That is dead on. He should have a bigger career.

      Btw, I’m sure the homophobic comments come from people who are super concerned with transface. Please.

    • lucy2 says:

      He is very charismatic on screen. I can’t see any other reason why his career isn’t huge.

  19. ria says:

    Bomer is actually the first open LGBT that was playing a part of another Part of the LGBT minority.
    That itself is new and would not be allowed by Studios a couple of years ago.
    Everytime before it was cisgender hetero. (or maybe closeted)
    But he shouldn’ t have blocked.

    • G says:

      The LGBT community isn’t just some friendly, non-political place though. Matt is gay, but there are plenty of cis, gay men who are also very transphobic. Which is one of the many reasons that there is backlash on this casting.
      I am not trans, so I am not going to speak for their community. But as another member of the community, I see being LGB and transphobia go hand in hand more often than I would like.
      So I am not sure that Matt being gay gives him a pass on this.

      • ria says:

        I have enough friends from all letters of LGBT to know that a couple of of them hate each other more than everything else.
        I said it is new and amazing that the Studios even allowed an open gay man to play a part where even a short time ago he would not even be allowed to be casted.

      • Kate says:

        It goes the other way too. A lot of the people revelling in calling Matt homophobic slurs on Twitter identify as trans. The LGBT community in general is a huge mess like that.

  20. What part of the word ‘acting’ do you not understand?

    • …wait, do you think the trans part is the acting or the whole entire rest of the movie? Because the trans part for Bomer is now makeup.

    • Bridget says:

      Because they’re saying that having men portray Trans women just helps to reinforce the idea that Trans women are really just men, which contributes to violence against Trans women. And they’re not exactly wrong.

    • Miss S says:

      I think people want films to carry a responsibility they shouldn’t have. If actors only play parts similar to who they are then… is it supposed to be a documentary. Race issues are different because how actors look affect the roles they can play and it’s not just about skin colour, it’s height, weight, even their voices matter. I wrote about this above. I understand people mean well, but from an actors perspective playing someone totally different from you is what makes it interesting. As part of the audience, even on subjects that are close to me I want to see the stories told with honesty and actors who can convey that, no matter their background or real experience with the subject the film focus on.

  21. littlemissnaughty says:

    Uh, I find the harshness of the reactions a little crazy. We are not talking about two oblivious idiots here. It was a mistake to not cast a trans actor but calling someone out on their mistakes and hurling sh*t at them are two different things. I get that people (minorities) are tired of being polite. I’m not trans but I am a woman and as such, I get so angry at people who use words like “feminazi” etc. I still try to reign it in when I see that someone simply hasn’t thought things through. And here you have two actors who would most likely, from all we know, be very open to the discussion and criticism. Those aren’t the people to attack.

    I do have one question though. What do you do as a filmmaker if you have to portray the before and after of someone transitioning? Would a trans actor be open to/comfortable with “going back”, so to speak? I would think you’d need two actors then, no?

    • gene123 says:

      I know on OITNB, Laverne Cox had her twin brother play Sophia pre transition. However, not every trans actor/actress has an identical twin so you are right, I am not sure the correct way to handle that and it would come to down to a case by case scenario based on the comfort of the actor

      • Pamela says:

        I didn’t realize that was her brother. I just assumed it was Laverne. At the time, I didn’t think on it much at all, other than to wonder if she was entirely comfortable portraying herself as a man. I don’t pretend to fully understand what it is like to be trans , but for someone on the outside looking in, I thought that might be hard for her.

        But yeah, I suppose if trans actors were to start being cast in trans roles that had a “before and after” they would have to do it because most won’t have a twin.

    • Kitten says:

      ITA but I’m also a huge Ruffalo fan and probably a Ruffalo apologist so that’s likely coloring my perspective.

    • Lucrezia says:

      I had the same questions about pre/post transition depictions back in the Danish Girl thread. Based on the trans people I know, I couldn’t imagine any of them ever wanting to go back to pretending to be their assigned gender.

      But I skimmed through Jen Richards’ twitter, and someone asked her if she’d be comfortable playing a trans woman pre-transition. Her reply: For a well written part, absolutely. It’d be hard, but that anxiety could be channeled into a great performance.

      I had a sudden lightbulb moment: (note that I’m generalizing here) – actors don’t deal with personal shit like normal people. Most of us go around avoiding or hiding our issues/emotions … they tend to search out personal drama and use it to fuel their performance. So now I think it makes sense that many trans actors WOULD happily take on a role playing both sides of a transition, simply because they’re actors and actors embrace that kind of thing.

    • kay says:

      it was not a mistake to cast a actor that wasn’t transgender. They don’t have to pander to trans people. You have the right not to watch what they produce.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        No, you’re right. Next time they make a movie about George Washington, they can just cast an Asian guy. Because really, they don’t have to pander to white people.

  22. AgeofBellendia says:

    To be fair – I don;t think Mark Ruffalo would ever knowingly try to upset the trans community – as he says, ‘we are all learning’ and surely by saying one community need not have compassion for another REGARDLESS which community it is, is more divisive than his comments.

    Saying that, they should have ABSOLUTELY cast a transgender person in this role, no doubt about that, and I’m disappointed but that could also have been said about Transparent, Transamerica, Dallas Buyers Club… (all of which have won awards) it is a huge problem that Hollywood has, not just this film. Cut them a break but yeah, it is an issue that matters and I’m sure Mark and Matt are now more enlightened.

  23. Minority Acting Role goes to Rich White Male.

    News at 11.

    Sorry, wake me up when it’s somehow different than every other time. White gay men are afforded more Privelage than other groups and often in Hollywood work to the exclusion of other individuals including and especially trans actors.

    I like both men as individuals but this is a case of thinking “Me first” instead of asking why the story of trans people is more important than the honest portrayal of them.

  24. shelly* says:

    I really dislike Ruffalo, I think he’s a total hypocrite. The Marvel franchise for instance, talk about a high carbon footprint. And not just the filming, the promotion of these films, premieres etc.

    I read that the Film industry has the second highest carbon footprint after the petro chemical industry. Now I’m not sure if that’s factually correct, but if you work in an industry that is so wasteful of resources, that’s your choice, but please don’t pontificate about Climate change endlessly, like Ruffalo does.

    Its the do as I say, not as I do attitude that gets my back up, he is not responsible for the film industry’s carbon footprint, but is happy to take their dollar while lecturing others.

    I quite like seeing him trying to justify transface (a new one to me I must admit) and asking for compassion, does compassion mean, don’t call me out ’cause I screwed up ? I’d be interested to know what the audition process was, maybe, being fair to Ruffalo, he tried auditioning a trans actor, but decided Bomar was the better choice.

  25. Marty says:

    I know Mark means well, but if he’s going to tell the Trans community he “hears” them, he needs to do better than to tell them they are the ones that need compassion. And what Bomer did was just s**tty, plain and simple.

    I’m going to leave a link to a series of tweets by another trans women, Jen Richards. She did a great job of explaining this issue and why it’s so important:

    • Bob says:

      I was with Richards until the part where she argues that having cis men play trans women characters contributes to violence against trans women in real life. I’m sorry, but that’s just wishful thinking on her part. Transphobes don’t think trans women are really men underneath because Jared Leto accepted his Oscar with a full beard. They think trans women are really men underneath because trans women were born with male genitalia and grew up presenting as boys. Never casting cis men as trans women isn’t going to do a damn thing to change that impression.

      The arguments about economic opportunity and trans actresses performing the character rather than the gender are good enough to weigh in favor of casting trans performers in trans rolls. Making a specious connection to violence is just going to alienate people who weren’t already predisposed to agree with her arguments. Like, I actually agree that trans women should be favored for these parts but I was bothered by how she completely ignores the role that homophobia plays in the violence straight men direct at trans women. As if not casting Matt Bomer in this part would do more to combat that rather than, I dunno, fighting homophobia? There’s quite a few messy intersectionality issues between cis gay men and straight trans women, that trans women tend to be extremely good at ignoring while advocating for themselves.

      • Marty says:

        I don’t know why it’s so hard for you to digest the correlation between men playing trans women and the violence it can bring onto them. The reasoning has been stated very clearly, if you don’t see it, it’s because you don’t want to and I’d rather not waste my time on someone who dismisses violence against trans women when they are being murdered at an alarming rate in this country.

      • Bob says:

        @ Marty

        I’ve got a pretty good idea why it’s so hard for you to see that the reasoning proffered is specious. I’m not dismissing violence against trans women. I’m dismissing the argument that Matt Bomer playing a trans woman will contribute to violence against trans women. Violence against trans women is almost entirely due to HOMOPHOBIA. Responding to homophobia with I’M NOT A GAY MAN does nothing to fight it, it in fact reinforces homophobia by implicitly accepting that a gay man would be deserving of such treatment.

        This is such a weird argument. It’s genuinely sad how many trans women seem to sincerely believe that transface leads to violence. As if forbidding cis men from presenting as women will somehow convince all those bigots who refuse to respect a person’s right to assert their gender identity that trans women are the only people capable of being born with a penis and later presenting as a woman, no cis man could do it. Sorry. That’s not how this works. 🙁

      • dana says:

        why is it hard for YOU to believe. She had facts and data that they usually suffer physical and emotional abuse due to these portrayals – while where’s your prove she’s not accurate. At the very least… people are ignoring the fact that trans community is saying men are portraying women. And they get to go back to being men, when these are real peoplel who are women. Its actually not like getting a persian to play a egyptian…. ITs getting a Male to portray a Woman. And they have a valid point that should have been considered before they were confronted on twitter. PR prep.

      • Lucrezia says:

        @ Bob: Do you also believe #alllivesmatter?

        Because that’s what your reasoning sounds like to me. The underlying issue is homophobia (general police violence) and addressing that would solve the problem, correct. But by taking the transface movement (BLM movement) and turning it into a more general discussion about homophobia (general police violence), you’re being incredibly dismissive of the fact that trans-women (black men) face a much higher risk of attack than the general gay population (general white population). It’s particularly problematic if you’re speaking from a position of privilege because you’re cis (white), because then the obvious question is whether you are being dismissive because you are actually transphobic (racist).

        Now, if you think #AllLivesMatter, then at least you’re consistent … we can agree to disagree. But if you do see the problem/s with the AllLivesMatter argument, then I challenge you to explain how your position here is any different.

  26. Amaria says:

    I wish people would quote what Jamie said more often when discussing this – how portrayal of transwomen by cis males is a huge disservice to those women. The word “woman” here is the key – they’re women. Women should be played by other women, if the producers really, really, REALLY can’t find a trans actress, they should hire a cis actress , not a dude, ffs. Using male actors to play transwomen is really insulting and, like Jamie said, dangerous for those women. It perpetuates all the wrong stereotypes and misconceptions about them. They wouldn’t cast Bomer as a ciswoman, would they? Well, women are women, cis or trans. Somebody said that they don’t hire trans actresses because they often don’t look “trans enough” (read: are too feminine looking for how privileged white cismale believes transwoman should look like). How ridiculous is that? This is some weird fetishization of males in female roles, not support of true trans community.

    • Guesto says:

      @Amaria – “The word “woman” here is the key – they’re women. Women should be played by other women, if the producers really, really, REALLY can’t find a trans actress, they should hire a cis actress , not a dude, ffs.”

      ^ Absolutely this.

    • Goldie says:

      @Amaria, I think you did a good job at articulating why Bomer’s casting is problematic. I especially agree with the point that they wouldn’t hire a cis man to play a cis woman, so why is it acceptable for a cis man to play a transwoman?
      It perpetuates the idea that tranwomen are not “real women”.

  27. Sigh... says:


    Ruffalo’s “I hear you – compassion” (unknowingly?) smacks of:
    1. Arquette telling minority activists to stop what they’re doing to fight for feminism,
    2. Damon’s “we got this” shut down of Brown,
    3. Caine’s “just-wait-your-turn-minorities” garbage from months ago, and my PERSONAL FAVE,
    4. “There are no good Asian actresses” from the “Ghosts in the Shell” screenwriter (as in he’s not even a casting agent/director or producer).

    My gosh, the level of pandering, patronizing, and mental gymnastics HW goes thru to FINALLY tell someone else’s story, just WITHOUT THEIR VOICE (face)…

  28. Cee says:

    This is the reality for every role out there not specifically white male/female. Everything is white washed or pushed to such a stereotype some characters end up being caricatures of who they are representing.

    This is just one more instance. Ralph F as Michael Jackson, Scarlet J as some Asian (forgot the nationality/ethnicity, sorry!) and Tilda Swinton as a tibetan monk. And now Matt B as a transgender woman.

    I love you Mark but telling the transgender community to show compassion was uncalled for and wrong. You made a mistake – own up to it and promise to do better. And be part of the conversation.

  29. Miss Jupitero says:

    Many have pointed out that this kind of transfacing contributes to violence against transpeople– because it reinforces the idea that too many people have that transwomen are just men dressing up, etc.

    This could have been a great opportunity to make a difference. They blew it, and Mark’s tweet just made it much worse.

  30. Krissy says:

    I’m sorry but “Transface” is not comparable to blackface, Stop! take it somewhere else, just NO.

  31. Whatever they say, I still love you Matt! You’re still my Christian Grey!

  32. Anyone seen the play? Cause I’m pretty sure the original material had a “transvestite” not a “transgender”. I think they tried yo update it by saying that the character is transgendered. But I swear, it was originally a transvestite. It would explain why they choose Matt

  33. Moxie Remon says:

    We all love Mark but we also know he’s a little problematic.

  34. Moon says:

    He’s not telling them to have compassion, he’s asking them for compassion. There’s a big difference between those two words.

    • Tobbs says:

      THIS! Transface is new to me, so I need to think through it more before I can say something about it, but the amount of harsh backlash to MR tweets baffles me. I get the frustration but to attack those who express an openness to learn more about minorities and their struggles is wrong. They should at least be addressed and educated politely and IMO welcomed. If someone has wronged you, you are entitled to be mad and to call them out on it. However it does not give you a free pass to wrong them back.

      • moon says:

        I agree – speaking as a minority woman, I think when people like MR get it wrong it’s important to educate them with patience and positivity. MR is a liberal and an ally. Repeated attacks about how ‘straight white men always get it wrong’ isn’t just reductive, it turns away potential allies. Not every straight white man is Donald Trump. The narrative doesn’t have to be us against them. Because as a feminist I’m looking for equality and unity – working together as equals not against.

  35. Jayna says:

    I love Mark and feel he is genuine. No one is perfect. He is less tone deaf than most celebs and does listen and evolves, as we all do.

  36. JWQ says:

    I don’ t know about this, to be honest. I usually am ok with bashing white actors for playing characters of another ethnicity, but I think that is more than justified! But this… if we make the point that cismen can’ t play transgender characters because they aren’ t, does that mean that we should also support the “gay men can’ t play heterosexual characters because they aren’ t” debate? The concept is the same, after all. Isn’ t that equally offensive?

    • Miss S says:

      I feel we need to go back to understand what acting is and what an actor does.

      • JWQ says:

        I read your comment below and I pretty much agree. I don’ t think you can play “a race” (or a sex, if I have to be honest) but you can play a sexual orientation, a gender identity or a disability. I am a person with a disability, and I am not offended when an able bodied actor plays a character who isn’ t, what I am offended about is when the actor says that he knows what disabled people feel. But that is another thing entirely!

      • Miss S says:

        What you point out is really important. The responsibility of the actor about really getting an understanding about who he is playing because when promoting the film he will be asked a lot about it and can use that attention to bring awareness and understanding to that experience and hopefully expand what people get about it. But yes, that’s a different matter.

      • JWQ says:

        I have no issues with the ones who say that they have spent time with people with disabilities and came to understand how hard it can be. My problems start when someone, usually a method actor, goes on and on about how he made a point in not using his sight/limbs/whatever (for a stupid movie) and doing so means that they now know what it is like to be an amputee or a visually challenged person.
        You don’ t know what it is like to be an amputee unless you are one. There’ s no amount of blindfolds that can make you blind. Even if you have spent two months with restrictions that make you understand what it is like for a person with that disability, you haven’ t been through reabilitation, you haven’ t felt the pain of having a limb amputated, you haven’ t had a doctor telling you that in a year at most you will never be able to listen to music again because you’ re becoming deaf. You know that whatever thing you have done to yourself, you can switch it off whenever you want. disabled people can’ t do it!
        It’ s all a method actor mentality, though, because they are insane, entitled and delusional!

      • Miss S says:

        Basically they should something like: “this is what I can share about the process and what I learned with it” instead of being a jerk. Even if they do stupid things to get it it is insensitive to talk about it in those terms. That’s when casting matters the most, picking an actor who is good but also a decent person. Someone who has enough tact to discuss the subject with dignity.

      • JWQ says:

        Pretty much. Again, I can’ t speak for everyone obviously, but I have really no problems with the idea of someone playing a disabled person, a gay person, a heterosexual person or a transgender as long as they don’ t assume that just because they played one on screen, they are part of the category. But it happens often (even though i don’ t think Bomer is one of those).

        I think it’ s more annoyance at the thought that there are people who are stupid and delusional enough to actually think that doing a dumb movie gives you first hand experience of whatever they are playing. Like, one plays a political leader? Knows everything about running a country and runs for president. One plays a doctor? Can perform brain surgery. One plays an athlete? Thinks he has the right to compete in the Olympics because his experience in the movie makes him qualified for that.

        I think I’ m more offended by such a display of stupidity than anything else!

      • Miss S says:

        I saw this video from actress/producer Jen Richards and I think I understand it better now:

        The perception of trans women as men in disguise is what puts them in danger and each time they pick a male actor to play a trans role, that idea is reinforced. According to Jen she wouldn’t be totally against an actress to play the role because for her this is the issue, how men perceive trans women. They feel attracted to them but fear being seen as gay and that’s what in her opinion is part of the problem.

        So it’s not really about only trans playing trans, but about representing trans women in ways that don’t put them in danger by reinforcing that they are after all still men and not women.

        If people had a racional, less emotional and hyperbolic conversation about this I believe we could understand more and better. When someone yells, the other gets defensive and it doesn’t help anyone. Saying that you are stupid because you don’t get it doesn’t make the person suddenly get it.

  37. Elaine says:

    JMO but I don’t think anyone is exempt from the need for compassion. Martin Luther King yo. Throw in a Gandhi reference here.
    Intersectional name check as I say I’m black and a female. I practice patience and tolerance when asked ‘what its like in the ghetto’ or ‘can I touch your hair’.

    Then I gently educate and inform. No *one* person knows everything. No *one* groups does *it* all well. And what is *it*? Understanding difference. This world is changing very very fast. Let’s not excoriate those who *are* trying, yet may have trouble keeping up.

    We give up on the process of peace and empathy, we give up on each other. And let’s not do that 😉

  38. Pamela says:

    Do Trans Women always identify as Trans? I mean no disrespect, I am genuinely asking.

    For example, a trans person is born, lives their early childhood “presenting” as a little boy (sorry, I am not sure the correct and respectful way to explain my question) , but eventually is able to realize that they are trans and a woman, and they grow up and transition to living as the woman the always have been in their heart/mind/soul. Do they always then identify as a trans Woman? Or do they more often identify themselves as just a woman? Is this the kind of thing where it varies and people all identify differently based on what they prefer?

    I ask because while I’ve no doubt that there are loads of trans actors that would have jumped at that role…..I thought maybe for some trans women it would be kind of like “Hey, I am a woman and can play any role that is being cast for a woman, not just trans women roles.”

    • Lucrezia says:

      That’s a complication question.

      Short answer is: it varies. Some “go stealth”, drop the trans label, drop the LGBT community and pass as cis. Others are out and proud, active in the LGBT and happy to be a visible success story.

      But really, most don’t exactly get to choose. You can’t go stealth unless you a) can physically pass as your new gender and b) completely drop your friends, family, acquaintances – anyone who’d know your past.

      For an actor specifically, trying to stealth would be foolish: if you get famous enough, someone IS going to out you, so the only sensible course is acknowledge the trans label from the start.

      Also you can’t forget economics. Most actors live hand-to-mouth and would take a role playing Dorothy the Dancing Dinosaur if it paid in cash. I bet 99% of ALL actors would’ve taken the role, regardless of whether they’re male or female, cis or straight. A jobs a job, right? So I’d also expect 99% of trans female actors to also accept the job. But that doesn’t mean it’s a role 99% trans women were dreaming of playing. Many probably would prefer to simply play female roles. But if they’re not getting a fair chance at those roles, then of course they’re going to want first-shot at the trans roles.

      • Pamela says:

        Thank you. This was a really helpful reply.

        I didn’t even consider the fact that being “out” as trans isn’t always a choice. I also hadn’t considered the fact that these are people like any other, who have a history and can’t simply erase it—unless they sort of cut all ties and start anew (which I’m sure some are forced to do if they do not have accepting friends and family)

        When it comes to the trans community, my MO is to be accepting and have compassion, but I still have a lot to learn about this community. It isn’t easy to put myself in their shoes. I think society is getting to me so much more accepting of people who are gay then say, 30 years ago. It is far easier for me personally to imagine being gay. I am a cis-straight woman, but I can imagine being gay because that, to me, is just a matter of who you are attracted to/love. It is much harder to put myself in the shoes of a trans person, it is more of a foreign concept to me. And also, not all trans people have the same experience, there are so many different places on the “spectrum” they may fall.

        Obv, the trans community has the right to decide whether this movie’s casting is a problem for them. But I do think, casting-aside, that films like Dallas Buyers, The Danish Girl and maybe this one might help more people be more compassionate and understand better.

  39. Irene says:

    Not surprised. When women started calling out Joss Whedon on his portrayal of women, Ruffalo got all defensive and tried to mansplain what feminism was to them. He may try to be a progressive dude, but he’s stI’ll a privileged white guy who thinks he knows better than everyone else.

  40. Trixie says:

    I don’t think Ruffalo should have used the word “compassion”, but if the film is already shot then recasting Bomer like that person demanded Ruffalo do would cost all the money and is not possible. So I think Ruffalo was attempting to say that that Twitter person needed to understand that recasting after the film has been shot is impossible. But he didn’t say it well at all.

  41. Miss S says:

    Ok, If I was an actor I would like to play characters that are very different from me: playing a man, an old lady, someone with a physical or mental disability… People from different nationalities, different sexual orientation… From my perspective, thinking as an actor, that’s an incredible challenge.

    My question is, where do we draw the line? Because while I understand the whole idea of giving opportunities to people who usually are not represented, the main concept of acting is being someone different from you. I understand racial limits because how we look informs the character in a really obvious way and the alternatives always look horrible and disrespectful. But our weight, our height, our skin colour, even our voice can matter. But the rest… not so much. Everything else can be played on, faked which makes acting so interesting, there are few limits.

    Also, you can’t cast a trans person just because that person is trans. When you are making a film you need to guarantee financing and even when there are no social justice “issues” sometimes they go for a certain actor because that’s what it takes to get the money to do the film, when maybe they actually wanted to do it with someone less known or less stereotypical.

    Now you ask, well, if you don’t give opportunities for trans actors they cannot be known… But being trans, while personally important for the person shouldn’t define their acting range, should it? The important thing isn’t to tell the story and therefore visibility to a subject? Should a trans actor be known only as a trans actor or simply as an actor who happens to be trans, just like actors who are gay but who play heterossexual characters?

    Am I missing something? I just feel that we are missing the point of acting and looking at films to carry a responsibility I don’t think they should have. Tell important stories with honesty and a lot of heart, yes, but allowing actors to be just that, ACTORS is what makes seeing acting exciting. I don’t want actors playing themselves.

    One of my favourite films is Breakfast on Pluto, starring Cilian Murphy who plays “Kitten”, a young trans woman. That film is perfect and the casting is perfect and Cilian is perfect in it. Would a real trans woman be better at it? Well, my point is that being able to play a trans woman with so much heart as he did is part of what makes him such a phenomenal actor. In the same way I would hope to see a trans actor playing a role that had nothing to do with him being trans.

  42. bobo says:

    bomer is not a big name and wont draw crowds based on who he is. he was cast because they were look for white men to play the role and mark ruffalo vouched for him. thats it. and hollywood always has an excuse for why white cis or straight actors must be chosen and they will always have excuses until we stop supporting their movies.

  43. Newyorking says:

    I don’t get why this is a big deal. In the workplace I would always want to hire people I know and have worked with and can trust, and had a good experience with. It happens ALL THE TIME. People go to new companies and bring their co-workers that they like, or recommend them for roles. Clearly Mark had a good experience with Matt Bomer, likes him and his acting and knows what he is getting. Why would he want someone new he doesn’t know? They probably had a good time working together. Why is this a big deal? Everything is not about race and gender, and while it is good to have a conversation, there is just too much attention on these issues to the point where people can’t just do things normally without being scrutinized. Yes there is privilege in Hollywood but here I just see two people who worked well together and want to work together again.

  44. Wren33 says:

    I am just wondering how many trans actors are out, so to speak. I know there are some very visible ones, like Laverne Cox, but would a non-activist trans actor want to be so publicly identified as trans? Given the backlash, I am guessing yes, but I also thought that it would potentially harm their ability to get roles in the gender they are living as. Apologies if my ignorance is showing.

  45. sunny says:

    Oh I LOVE it when these people get attacked. No matter how good of an “ally” you are, no matter what you do, you WILL get attacked for something. Watching this as an evil “wrongthinker” I love to just laugh and laugh. It’s like a bunch of lunatics terrified to stop clapping for their tyrannical ruler because they know if they do, they’ll be dragged out and disappeared. The best part is seeing the remaining ones…the fear is delicious because yes, you know you will have your day as the target and there’s nothing you can do to stop it! Enjoy!

  46. The Original Mia says:

    Should have cast a transsexual actor not a gay actor, who’s friends with the producer. Neither gets a pass because they knew better, hence keeping Matt’s role a secret until now.

  47. Kate says:

    I haven’t actually seen much at all about the film or the character? Do we know if it has lots of flashbacks to pre-transition? Or when it’s set? If it’s set 30 years ago for example, a trans sex worker was much more likely to look like Bomer in a bad wig than a trans actress today who has access to hormone treatment and feminising surgeries. Is he playing a trans woman who’s supposed to have had any of that (a lot of trans sex workers get into the industry in order to save up for their first treatments/surgery)?

    I feel like other films, recent films, that have cast cis actors as trans have gotten the benefit of the doubt until it’s become clear the character is presenting as trans throughout the entire film. But with this one, unless I’ve missed something, all we know is he’ll be playing a trans sex worker, and apparently that’s enough to assume there’s zero reason a cis man might have been chosen in this case.

    It does make me uncomfortable to see Bomer and BD Wong singled out in this way while straight cis men get Oscar noms/wins for their portrayals and no one, including trans activists, mounts half as much of a hate campaign. Jared Leto said a bunch of reductive, insulting nonsense about playing a trans character every time he opened his mouth, yet the trans community actually embraced him for quite a while and even now, the anger towards him is so much less than what’s aimed at Bomer and BD Wong.

  48. S says:

    Actors aren’t factory workers. You can’t just substitute one for the other. Maybe Matt Bomer is the best actor for the role, even ignoring name recognition. Plus, to a point, if you narrow down the categories of who can play what too far, it’s not really acting any more. the reason straight or cis actors get recognition for playing gay or trans roles is not because it is brave but because it is a stretch. Also, as a parent of a (high functioning) autistic kid, I can say it’s as much a part of who he is as his gender or sexual preferences, probably more so, so don’t dismiss those as incidental characteristics.

  49. Sarah says:

    It’s the movie business so they are looking for 2 things: profit & accolades. Ruffalo is going to go with someone he has worked with and knows can deliver as apposed to taking a chance on an unknown trans actor. I’m Persian and I wasn’t thrilled that Jake Gyllenhaal was the Prince of Persia or that Leonardo DiCaprio will likely be playing Rumi but it is what it is and they will go with names that will bring in the $$$.

  50. Patty says:

    Comparing this casting to blackface or yellow face is a stretch. Remember with those two the white actors typically played Black and Asian characters and portrayed them as over the type caricatures.

    Also harassing people isn’t going to fix the problem, so I don’t blame Matt and Mark from blocking people, etc.

    That being said, I completely understand why minority actors and actresses complain about lack of representation in Hollywood; especially considering the history there.

    But I’m legit confused about this whole controversy. And I’d like to know where we do draw the line. If only transgendered people can play transgendered people, does that mean that only gays can play gay people? And conversely, should only straight people play straight people? Or maybe I’m misunderstanding; is the issue that Matt is not transgender? Or is the issue that he’s the wrong gender?

  51. Wendy says:

    Going by these comments, then shouldn’t gay people only be cast as gay people, straight people as straight people etc etc – why should gay people get straight roles (Neil Patrick Harris / Cynthia Nixon / Portia De Rossi etc etc etc) It’s an absurd notion!!! They should be able to cast who the hell they like based on the ability of the actor and ability to sell the movie and not be judged for it – it is only a movie after all!

    • Goldie says:

      There’s a difference between sexual orientation vs gender identity. Straight actors regularly portray gay characters and vice versa. OTOH, male characters are almost always played by male actors, and female characters by females.

      Can you imagine if, instead of casting Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, the studio decided to use a male actor dressed up as a woman?
      Or why not get an effeminate looking man to play Mary Poppins? These castings would be absurd, and there would rightfully be a huge outcry. So that begs the question, why is it unacceptable for a man to play a cis woman, but perfectly fine for man to play a transwoman? I agree with the poster above who stated that even if they couldn’t get a transwoman, it would better to cast a cis woman rather than a man.
      The only time way it would make sense to cast a man would be if the majority of the film took place before the character transitioned.

  52. Crumpet says:

    They are actors in a movie, telling a story. Mark should be able to cast whomever he feels is right for the part. Period. Politicizing of art is over the top, and where does it stop?

  53. Jenfem says:

    What about Dallas Buyer’s club? What about gay Portia Dr Rossi playing a heterosexual in Arrested development, or straight Laura Prepon playing a homosexual in OITNB?

  54. Jeanne says:

    I generally fall on the “very liberal/socialist” end of the spectrum, but I think this is ridiculous. By saying that only a transwoman should play a transwoman character, by that logic, then shouldn’t a cisgendered female character only be played by a cisgendered woman?

    Ethnic identity is something different, and more visual to me, so a white person should not be cast as a character who is supposed to be black/Asian/Native American, etc. But I think cis can play trans and trans can play cis, much like gay can play straight and straight can play gay.

  55. Addison says:

    Eh, Matt is an actor and as an actor if he can pull it off then he is doing a job. If Mary Jane Watson can now be played by a black female then people should not expect only trans actors to get trans roles.

    10 years ago there were hardly any trans characters. So to me this is a positive.