The transgender tipping point was back in 2015, but it still doesn’t seem like a lot has changed since then. Despite bringing trans people into the mainstream and causing your grandmother to ask why people keep on inventing new genders, not much has changed, even for the most important trans people around — actors. Jamie Clayton, Hunter Schafer, and Hari Nef have all appeared in films, but none are big-time household names. Despite there being a deluge of trans actors, there’s still a long history — is it history when it’s still happening? — of trans characters being played by cis actors. Instead of Ian Alexander, Chaz Bono, or Avery Edison it’s … some white guy named Paul.
It’s a touchy subject, in the same way that casting John Travolta in Hairspray is touchy. That said, let’s look back on some of the biggest, best, and most famous roles trans people didn’t get to play because some cis person took the role already.
David Duchovny’s Denise Bryson was celebrated
Jared Leto plays a trans person in The Dallas Buyers Club
Chandler’s Mom was played for laughs… and emotion
Lisa Edelstein played trans Cindy McCauliff in Ally McBeal
Chris Sarandon stars as a real trans woman who was able to afford to transition due to the film
Leatherface is a notorious trans-coded serial killer who has been reclaimed by trans women
Eddie Redmayne was Lili Elbe, the Danish Girl
Disgraced, alleged sexual assaulter Jeffrey Tambor played Transparent’s lead role
Elle Fanning stars as a trans man in 3 Generations
Based on a true story, Hillary Swank plays trans man Brandon Teena
BD Wong has a history playing women
Famke Janssen played rape victim slash antagonist Ava Moore in Nip/Tuck
Felissa Rose as Angela Baker in Sleepaway Camp
Sean Young as vomit-inducing antagonist Lois Einhorn
Matt Bomer played a sex worker in controversial film 'Anything'