Commentary

Again with the transface, Hollywood? Matt Bomer booed for ‘playing’ trans

For his part, Bomer — or whoever manages his Twitter account — apparently decided enough was enough, according to Sense8 actress Jamie Clayton, who is herself trans.

You’ve seen Bomer, who came out in 2012, in the Magic Mike movies, and TV’s The Normal Heart, for which he won a Golden Globe and co-starred with Ruffalo. Bomer turned activist last fall, joining Michael Sam in recording videos for the Human Rights Campaign to support antidiscrimination laws. So he’s gay, but… well, you do realize, Hollywood, that being gay is not the same thing as being trans, right? And what does he know about sex workers who are transgender (not “transgendered,” Variety)?

For that matter, what does the director who wrote the play this movie is based on know about being trans or prostitution, having to sell your body to survive? We don’t know.

McNeil is the straight cisgender actor and writer who you may have seen (if you didn’t blink) in Contact, Starship Troopers and Forrest Gump — McNeil played the “Have a Nice Day” tee-shirt designer as well as in episodes of popular television shows from House (“patient #2) to Star Trek: Voyager (miner #2). Neither he nor Bomer appear to have any credits on IMDB that might suggest experience with trans roles, except Anything. 

When the play opened in 2007 in Los Angeles community theater, one reviewer repeatedly referred to the character Bomer will play as a “transvestite.” One can only hope that this was the critic’s own, dated and skewed misunderstanding. There’s a huge difference between a man who seeks a sexual thrill and the men and women who yearn to live authentically, and set right a mismatch between their bodies and their brains.

That’s a difference a transgender actor knows better than anyone, a feeling that truly is unlike… anything.

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