Over the years, JK Rowling has been rightfully criticized for spewing transphobic nonsense and spreading misinformation about the transgender community. The criticism has only intensified as Rowling seems to have doubled down on her hatred of trans people ever since it became clear her bigotry wasn’t being viewed by the public as acceptable.
With that being said, she has had some folks come to her defense and that includes actor Eddie Redmayne. The British actor who has a history of entering the discussion on trans rights issues when he played the role of a transgender woman in The Danish Girl said the “vitriol” aimed Rowling was “absolutely disgusting.” His comments come as he’s staring in a movie Rowling co-wrote and has apparently gotten to know her reasonably well.
Fortunately, during an interview with the Daily Mail, he also spoke out in support of trans people who he says “are facing discrimination on a daily basis.” While Rowling claims trans women aren’t really women and that it’s really women who are under attack by people who support trans rights, Redmayne said “there continues to be a hideous torrent of abuse towards trans people online and out in the world that is devastating.”
It should be noted that Redmayne’s comments come as he’s been criticized by many supporters of transgender rights for taking the role of a trans woman. In a time when trans people are often deliberately misgendered in an attempt to demean this gender identity and Hollywood has a history of providing an inaccurate portrait of trans people, advocates were upset that the role was given to a cisgender male instead of a trans woman.
As Jen Richards, a transgender woman who’s an actress and TV writer, told the Chicago Tribune, representation in Hollywood is critical and the movie industry has a history of denying opportunity to trans people.”What we’re saying is that even if we do get a chance to get in the door, we often lose those parts to cis people for a variety of reasons,” Richards said. “And one common reason is that, because Hollywood has only ever seen cis people playing trans people, that’s their image of what a trans person looks like. So we lose jobs because we don’t ‘look’ trans. I’ve literally lost jobs because a producer said I don’t look trans.”
She also highlighted how casting a trans person could help bring more authenticity to the role and the person could draw upon their personal experience while portraying the character. This gets to the heart of why many people specifically criticized Redmayne.
A trans woman named Carol Grant, for instance, wrote an op-ed for Indie Wire that highlighted how The Danish Girl failed to accurate portray Lili Elbe’s life, but Redmayne’s performance was especially horrible. She says the performance “cisnormative gaze of the transgender community” and fell into over simplified generalizations of femininity.
“The Danish Girl’s struggle to portray Lili Elbe’s story magnifies not only the most glaring weaknesses of both Redmayne and Hooper, but also the cisnormative gaze of the transgender community,” Carol wrote. “You get this in Redmayne’s performance, of course, only instead of approximating a single individual, he’s approximating femininity itself, ratcheting his exaggerated, nervous physical ticks to 11 when playing both Einar and Lili.”
With all this in mind, it really comes down to the fact that there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made regarding trans rights and representation. And while Redmayne might be accurate in describing some of the comments made towards Rowling as “disgusting,” it fails to consider the long frustration trans people have with the constant attacks on their existence that are promoted by people like JK Rowling. If the actor is truly disturbed by the state of discussion, he should probably be focusing his attention on the heinousness of the bigotry and divisiveness his author friend’s constantly spewing.