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Halle Berry will no longer consider playing a transgender man in an upcoming film after backlash following her comments on the matter.
Berry issued an apology on social media and said that “the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
The Oscar-winning actor had last week said that she was considering a role as a trans man during an interview on Instagram Live, Variety reports.
““[It’s] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man,” Berry said, misgendering the character. “She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing.”
Berry repeatedly referred to the character using female pronouns, including saying, “Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project.”
She also said that the project would be a “deep dive” into “that world,” presumably meaning the lives of transgender people.
Backlash on social media was swift, with Berry being criticized both for misgendering the character and for considering the role.
The official Twitter account for new Netflix documentary Disclosure, about the history of trans representation in film and television, which asked her to watch the film and “understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”
“Hi [Halle Berry], we heard you’re considering playing a trans man in your next project,” the account tweeted.
“We ask that you please watch [Disclosure on Netflix] first to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”
Hi @halleberry, we heard you're considering playing a trans man in your next project. We ask that you please watch @Disclosure_Doc on @netflix first to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen. #DisclosureNetflix
— Disclosure Documentary (@Disclosure_Doc) July 6, 2020
Following the backlash, Berry issued a public apology on social media on Monday, saying she shouldn’t have considered the role and affirming that trans people “should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks,” Berry wrote.
“As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
Berry said she was “grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days” and said she would “continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake.”
“I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera,” she concluded.
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) July 7, 2020
LGBTQ media organization GLAAD tweeted that it was “pleased” Berry had withdrawn from the project and had listened to the concerns of the trans community.
“We are pleased that [Halle Berry] listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them,” GLAAD wrote. “Other powerful people should do the same. A good place to start is by watching [Disclosure] to learn about trans representation in media.”
Disclosure‘s Twitter account wrote a follow-up tweet after Berry’s statement, thanking her for “listening and learning.”
“Thank you [Halle Berry] for listening and learning,” they wrote. “We hope #DisclosureNetflix is one of many educational tools you and others can rely to inspire and strengthen allyship.”
Cisgender actors portraying transgender characters has become an increasingly contentious issue in Hollywood, with Netflix’s own drama series Money Heist being criticized for having a trans female character portrayed by a cisgender woman.
In 2018, Scarlett Johansson pulled out of biopic Rub and Tug after backlash over her casting as its trans male lead — criticism that heightened after she initially dismissed the controversy, telling those who opposed her casting to direct their complaints to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” (All three actors had previously portrayed transgender characters.)
After her response drew even more criticism, Johansson ultimately left the production, saying she had “learned a lot from the [transgender] community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive.”
“I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues,” she said.
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