Can I Be Trans?
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Can I Be Trans?

Thoughts from a Cis-Actor on playing a Trans Character.

Can I Be Trans?

As an actor you’re always excited for the chance to play a new role, specifically a role that is dramatically different from any other role that you’ve gotten to play before as it gives you a chance to really test your range. Getting the chance to play a new character allows you to explore the different aspects of what it means to be human and we learn to understand ourselves better in the process. But I personally wonder what my limits are in terms of who I can and can’t play; especially with the current show that I’ve been working on.

I’m currently cast in a production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding which has been a great experience and you can get the chance to see it between April 6th through the 9th, okay, sorry, shameless plug over, back to the article. Anyways, the creative team has managed to adapt the script to gender bend two of the characters in the script, I just happen to be lucky enough to get to play one of those two characters. For those of you who are unaware, gender bending is a term used when you take a character that is traditionally a man or a woman and you change their gender so that they are played as woman or a man. To my knowledge there isn’t much of a discussion with gender bending roles to make them gender queer; but this does lead me to my next point.

Even though the role was originally made to be played by a woman, it’s now being played by a man as a man, a man that is filling what would’ve been considered the woman’s role in southern Spain in the 1930’s but a man none the less. So what if it wasn’t gender bent, what if I was still playing the role but as a man playing woman? Realistically speaking, it would be probably one of the more difficult roles to try to understand but I do think it would be doable. But then that got me thinking, as an actor, do I feel like I could play a Trans character? If I’m being honest, no, I do not believe that I could ever play a Trans character based off the fact that I don’t think I could do any Trans character justice.

When you look at characters as an actor, they’re not just a character on a page, you turn them into a real person you attempt to tell their story and bring them to life in a way that allows the audience to engage with them as they would engage with someone on the street. But I can’t bring a character to life that I can’t understand. The fact of the matter is that as a Cis-man I have never really had to question my gender. I don’t know what it means to not feel like I belong with the gender they assigned me at birth, I don’t even know what it means to feel like a man, I just know that I am one because if I was anything other than a man I think I would feel it down in my core. So as an actor, how am I even supposed to begin to understand where a Tran’s character is coming from? How am I supposed to understand their struggles, their triumphs, their perspective of their world?How can I feel comfortable not giving someone who I see as a human being their proper voice? The honest answer, I can’t, and I won’t.

*Disclaimer: There are multiple reasons why I believe that Trans characters should be played exclusively by Trans actors, but this article in particular is just focusing on my views on the issue from an actor point of view.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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