I have been googling Jared Leto a lot since his win at the Oscars. I was really surprised to see that despite of him taking home an academy award for the role of a transgender woman in the film Dallas buyers club, he was actually being criticized for it. By who? By none other than the transgender community themselves. Say whaaaa?
(I have been coming across some criticizing piece of writing of Jared Leto’s portrayal of Rayon. The worse one was head-lined : Don’t applaud Jared Leto’s Transgender “Mammy”. THE HELL?)
The general opinion among those articles was that his selection for the role was inappropriate. Because Rayon is a transgender woman, he should have been played by a transgender rather than a non-transgender, straight actor.
I don’t understand this one. What logic is there to a statement like this?
Moreover, at the Santa Barbra International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Awards, a transgender woman claimed that Jared didn’t deserve an award for playing a trans woman because he is male.
Jared countered with:”Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?” he asked, rhetorically. “So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can’t play a straight part?”
According to her logic, only straight people could play straight parts. If such was the case, Jared said:
“Then you’ve made sure people that are gay, people that aren’t straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art”
I think he was beyond awesome in the movie. However, a lot of people said he didn’t quite nail the part and Rayon ticked all the stereotypes associated with transgender people i.e; they’re sex workers/drug users etc. Ofcourse, not all transgender people are like that. But there are people like Rayon out there. As Calpernia Aadams, an out trans actress, mentioned in an article:
“But I have known people like Rayon. She is not a made-up grab bag of random hateful attributes. She’s a portrayal of an uncomfortable segment of the trans experience that a few TLGB folks would rather be erased rather than discussed.”
I couldn’t agree more with the last part:
“Please do hire trans actors for any role, especially trans roles. But please let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot by attacking allies willing to open the door for us as we approach equality”
Moreover, why is everyone so interested in this debate? Why is no one from the transgender community applauding him for accepting this role? How would they have felt if he had acted like a trans-o-phobic and rejected to play this part?
“I made it very clear early on that I saw Rayon as a man who wanted to live his life as a woman, not someone who enjoyed putting on women’s clothing,”Jared told Flaunt magazine. “If they wanted that kind of performance—or anything glam, or anything drag queen-y—I wasn’t the person for the part”
He was more than dedicated to the role. He made the effort of spending time with transgender people so he would have a better understanding of their lives and the things they go through. He lost 30 pounds so he could play the part more appropriately. And I think the quote above makes it extremely clear that he wanted to portray Rayon as anything but a stereotypical trans woman who took drugs. Even though Rayon is a fictional character, Jared wanted to bring life to him. So yes, do applaud Jared for his “Mammy”.