People Think Eddie Redmayne Implied His Film Made Trans Issues Mainstream
Update: Eddie Redmayne told BuzzFeed News he hopes his comment wasn't misunderstood, and that he acknowledges that countless others led trans issues into the mainstream media.
On Sunday evening, Redmayne attended the BAFTA Awards in London, where he lost out in the Best Actor award to Leonardo DiCaprio, who won for his role in The Revenant.
Redmayne was nominated for his lead role in The Danish Girl. The movie is based on the real-life story of trans woman Lili Elbe, one of the earliest recipients of gender affirmation surgery.
On the evening of the awards show, Redmayne spoke to BBC News, which tweeted that the actor said it was "extraordinary" how trans issues have come into mainstream media following The Danish Girl.
In the full interview with the BBC, Redmayne also speaks about how he was fortunate that many trans women were "incredibly generous" in educating him when he was preparing for the role.
He adds that although its been 100 years since Elbe's story, he believes that there is still a long way to go for trans rights, and that hopefully the film "helps encourage" the conversation.
Redmayne's comments have since been criticised by many in the trans community who believe the actor is implying his movie is responsible for trans issues being covered in the media.
Some noted that trans people "existed before" the movie, and said they had been campaigning for trans rights to be brought into the mainstream for decades.
Others were critical of Hollywood for not casting trans people as trans characters in movies.
Some people said Redmayne's comments were taken out of context, especially given that he's been outspoken on the subject of transgender issues since his casting in The Danish Girl.
In previous interviews, Redmayne has said people need to be "urgently" educated on trans issues and that trans women "constantly" face judgement and discrimination.
"I fell into all the clichés of ignorance," Redmayne said to Entertainment Weekly last November, speaking about trans issues. "I didn't realize that gender and sexuality weren't related. I confused the terms transvestitism and transgender. But what's lovely is, the second you understand the difference, you see how gigantic it is and how important it is that we educate ourselves."
Others defended Redmayne for having good intentions when it came to highlighting trans issues, but said he's still "catching up".
Redmayne's comment prompted some people to mock the actor for suggesting the movie was a turning point for trans issues.
Kat Blaque, a transgender vlogger, told BuzzFeed News she wants people like Redmayne to speak up for the trans community, but not to "speak for them", and said his comment reflects "vanity and privilege".
Blaque said actors who play trans roles believe their work is "important, groundbreaking, even radical", but that in reality casting trans people in Hollywood movies would be the more radical move.
She said the reception to Danish Girl is "being sold" as a movie that will make change for the trans community, but that she and many other trans people don't see it that way.
"I think that Hollywood needs to stop pretending that trans actors don't exist," she said. "Trans actors not only exist, but they're in need of work. When you cast a cis character in a trans role, you're essentially taking roles that were written for them away from them."
Blaque believes that regardless of whether or not Redmayne's comment was misinterpreted, he should be "trying his best" to listen to the trans community.
"There's a part of me that cannot fully blame him," Blaque said, "as while the trans community is incredibly helpful among each other, we still have very mixed emotions when giving cis people access to these conversations.
"Cis allies are a very important part of trans progress, but we need them to listen, not speak over us. Maybe it was a slip-up – I can buy that, maybe. However, to me, if you're going to be a cis person playing a trans role, try your best to not make it worse."
UPDATE: Eddie Redmayne says he hopes his comment wasn't misunderstood, and acknowledges countless others have paved the way for trans rights to be in the mainstream media.
In a comment to BuzzFeed News, Redmayne said:
“I hope what I said was not misunderstood. In the 4 years since I started work on The Danish Girl, trans stories, lives and issues have burst into the mainstream media with people like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Mya Taylor, Rebecca Root, Jake Graf, Caitlyn Jenner and the countless others pushing the needle forward and making history on their own terms. As I've said before, it has been an honor to be part of this conversation in some small way by sharing Lili and Gerda's story. There is still a long way to go, and allies of the trans community (including me) need to continue our support."