About Ray – A Step Backwards?

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About Ray is a film due to be released later this year that follows a young trans man who is starting to transition. When I first heard about it, it was exciting to think that Hollywood would be creating a film on female to male transition and how this would positively affect trans people, but the more I looked into it the more I began to question whether this will in fact be beneficial to the trans community.

Aside from the obvious thing most people have found to be off putting (a cis female playing a trans male) in a recent interview the Director and Co-Writer, Gaby Dellal, seemed to be completely ignorant to transgender people, even misgendering the main character, Ray. When defending her decision to cast Elle Fanning, as cis female, to act as Ray in the movie, she said: ‘She is a girl who is presenting in a very ineffectual way as a boy, she’s not pretending to have a deeper voice. She’s just a girl who is being herself and is chasing the opportunity to start hormone treatment. So to actually use a trans boy was not an option because this isn’t what my story is about.”

I feel that ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ is an appropriate phrase to use here – with all the press about trans people lately making a film about a trans man seems to be a good choice, however Dellal is attempting to make a film while it’s still popular and trendy to talk about, but without seeming to understand a thing about trans people.

I hope the films turns out to be more accurate and sensitive than I’d expect from interviews, but we shall find out when it’s released.

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A developing photographer, artist, musician and journalist. An ally and activist for trans rights.

4 Comments

  1. I think you bring up a good point to be wary. I will probably go see the movie and then form an opinion. I’m not following if you had a problem or not with the explanation of use of Fanning’s natural voice in the movie. Personally, I think it is interesting and topical about transition. Who wakes up one day and changes their voice? No one. At best it is gradual. From a MtF perspective my burden is that it seems to be a more conscious requiring behavior for me. I can and do sound very natural, but it still requires effort. For that, sometimes it feels inauthentic.

    I am interested to see this from a FtM perspective. It seems to me that it is one of the few positive differences in outcomes that FtM’s enjoy. The addition of testosterone has a direct impact on voice. For MtF there is nothing one can do besides voice training and dubious surgeries with uncertain outcomes. I hope that I don’t sound too ignorant about FtM issues, I certainly am trying to understand the burdens that are shared and those that are different.

  2. I am really tired of this bullshit about casting transgender actors to play transgender characters. Does an actor need to be a Danish prince to play Hamlet? No, that’s why they’re called actors.

    Since when did Hollywood become an employment program for unemployed transgender actors? Movies are expensive to make and this one presents several marketing challenges. First, it’s a drama where almost all the characters are female including Ray at the start of the film. It’s a chick flick which immediately eliminates a huge chunk of male viewers. Secondly, it’s an LGBT theme film which eliminates another huge chunk of audience. How does a film maker put butts in theatre seats? They use actors who will draw attention simply by their names being on the bill. People will pay to see a film starring Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon.

    The film isn’t about FTM transsexuals. Transition is what sets up the conflict (no conflict, no story) for a FAMILY DRAMA! Misgendering? I don’t know about anyone else but it took my family awhile to get used to my new name and gender. After all, they’d been calling me Jonathan and brother/son for the previous 40 years so I cut them some slack.

    I will be in the audience on Thursday for what I’m sure will be an enjoyable movie experience. My review will be in LGBT Perspective magazine.

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