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Actor felt forced to quit musical after man was cast as trans woman

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Actor felt forced to quit musical after man was cast as trans woman

Kate O’Donnell, who is herself trans, pulled out of Breakfast on Pluto over casting decision

By: Mark Brown, Arts correspondent
Wed 11 Mar 2020 14.24 EDT

O’Donnell told the Guardian how her excitement turned to disappointment when told a cis man was cast in the lead. “I said, ‘Are you prepared for what is going to happen with that? Have you thought that through?’” After talking to friends and people in the community, she withdrew from the show.

“When you do this it just perpetuates the idea that trans women are men … They are dressing up and misleading people. Also, creatively, it is just not interesting. To see a man in a dress, which is kind of what it will be, it reminds people of blacking up.

“The sad thing is to cast a trans person and me, having a trans mother having a go at their trans child … I think it could have been electric. It could have been quite magical. I think the arts world don’t get that … We are actually very interesting and when you put us in things, people see stories differently. That is what art is about – art is about helping people to see the world differently, and when you do this, nothing changes.

“This show will not change anything.”

I don't feel any sympathy for her. She had a role and bailed on it because a straight guy got the lead role. That just sounds like she's throwing a fit because she didn't get what she wanted.

She can dress it up saying about representation or for better art but I don't believe that for a second. The vast majority of people do not care about the person behind the role. They don't know or care if someone is trans, cis, gay, straight or whatever. (Though when actors or actresses try to force it to be about that, it can very easily turn people off. Not because they are <whatever>, but if it's all they talk about and push then people just get tired of hearing about it.) They just want to see the story, be entertained and sometimes not think about the real world for a bit. So because of that I think she's making a massive mountain out of a molehill.

And, not to be too ice cold... but the directors often have WAY better ideas for casting. They see the whole thing, not just one small part like an individual actor/actress might. So there very well may be a reason why they chose a straight guy over a transwoman for that role.

As an aside, I think the whole "you have to be <thing> to play <thing>" is inherently stupid. No human is a Jedi Master. A Kryptonian. A Skrull. Or evil robot bent on destroying everyone. Yet we see people play roles like these and more all the time. Whether it's voice alone or in physical form. So should we not have these because people aren't those types of beings? No. That's a very foolish way to look at the world. (And yes, I'm being over the top with this because it shows just how nonsensical this premise is.)

Paul Muad-Dib:
The aim of the entertainment industry isn't to satisfy what actors or activists want. As someone interested in acting myself, the point of the profession is to act, which means being something you are not. The entire concept should not rely on anybody actually being something for real in order to play a role, but for the person to be good at assuming the role. The person being a cis man doesn't interest me in the slightest. What matters is are they a good actor, and is the character they play engaging and interesting.

We cannot have it both ways - if Hollywood and the like are happy to change the gender or race of existing characters because "it doesn't matter, it's just a movie/play, don't be a bigot and accept it", then you can't have your cake and eat it too - it doesn't matter if a cis man plays a trans woman.

The idea it will "make people think bad of transwomen" is weak and unsubstantiated. I have seen many a movie that was extremely well-received in which LGBT characters were played by non-LGBT actors.


If you haven't watched 'Disclosure' on Netflix yet, please do. It's a very insightful look into societal attitudes towards trans people. At 1hr in Jen Richards gives a much better explanation than I did of why cis-actors portraying trans-people on stage and in film is harmful to the trans community.

Well, I do get it. It's like the racism problem.

Acting is one thing, but somebody from the right race has to be cast to play a role like the Engineer in Miss Saigon, for example. That's because for a long time, nobody from that race would be cast in such roles. I do see this as being part of the same type of issue.


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