“Wanted: pre-op transsexual”. Also required: clue?


This casting call for a new Sky Atlantic HD series, “Hit and Miss”, worries me. To summarise: They’re after someone to play the leading role, a trans woman, in a new TV series.

No problem?

Well, yes, they actually want “a male to female pre-op transsexual” to play the leading role. I’m confused.

Are they going to have a genital check at the casting to make sure someone is pre-op?

How will they actually know someone is transsexual?

Will anyone explain to them the difference between a noun and an adjective?

For the answer to these and other exiting questions, tune in next week…

Transamerica was successful in part I think because they didn’t try to get a trans woman or worse, a male actor to play the role. Instead, they just picked a good actress. Yes, I know Transamerica had problems, I winced at the “genuine girl” bit, but it shows you don’t need a trans woman to play a trans woman any more than you need to be heterosexual to play a straight person.

I can’t see that the pre-op stipulation matters unless they’re actually making transsexual pornography. (Oh boy, typing that is going to get me some serious comment spam…) Even in Transamerica, we saw Felicity’s “genitals” on screen.

There may be more to this than we know.

We only have the casting call to go on. Perhaps they are in fact looking around elsewhere too for cis women to play the leading role. But it’s still enough to make me concerned that they don’t really understand what they’re doing. And if they don’t, what are the chances that the final “huge and exciting British drama specially commissioned for [Sky Atlantic]” that will no doubt attract a significant amount of publicity will cater to all the usual harmful stereotypes?

  1. #1 by Rory on 27 January 2011 - 14:16

    I’ve always been an advocate actors doing their job, rather than having to be real life examples.

    Having said that though, it does make a change for a casting company to not only be open to trans actors, but also actively looking for one. As problematic as their request is though…

  2. #2 by Lisa Harney on 27 January 2011 - 17:48

    To be honest, since cis people are typically the default go-to for everyone when casting trans people, I would much rather see casting calls for trans people to play trans people.

    I understand the danger of typecasting and stereotyping, and I agree no one should be pushed into roles they don’t want.

    I also feel TransAmerica was a rubbish feel-good portrayal of trans womanhood that managed to objectify more than inform about trans women’s experiences. Especially the emphasis on Bree’s awkwardness and “residual masculinity,” never mind uncritically enshrining the idea of pointless and humiliating hoops to jump through to get surgery as the quirky basis for a buddy movie.

  3. #3 by Lisa Harney on 27 January 2011 - 17:53

    Oops: Obviously the emphasis on genital status is busted, and it’s still problematic that trans roles are primarily written by cis people, and thus whether cis or trans such characters are essentially serving as mouthpieces for the cis creators’ perspective on what transness is.

    But I would still rather see trans people portraying trans people than cis people portraying trans people.

    • #4 by Zoe O'Connell on 28 January 2011 - 09:40

      Playing devils advocate here, but if trans people should play trans roles, should only cis people play cis roles?

      It’s also been pointed out elsewhere (Livejournal) that the specific request for a trans woman in this instance is probably unlawful.

  4. #5 by harukoraharu on 28 January 2011 - 12:49

    But how often do trans women get the opportunity to play any roles? I liked Almodovar’s twist in ‘Law of Desire’ having a trans woman play a cis role and a cis woman play a trans role though less impressed with his generalisation that trans equals sex worker.

  5. #6 by Meow on 29 January 2011 - 17:04

    Transgender women dont really have positive exposure in this country, unlike America do this has the potential to be a breakthough
    and yes a transgender/transexual women should play the part
    if Daniel Craig played Barrack it would raise a few eyebrows yeah?
    It comes down to the source materiel as long its not exploitative then it could be a very good thing
    it depends on the script and the charcaterisation

  6. #7 by Chrissy J on 2 February 2011 - 17:12

    I’m going to the casting call tomorrow (in Manchester) to ask how the casting agents are going to confirm the genital status of their actress…

    I’m also going to ask why it appears to be necessary that a *pre-op* transsexual is required, ‘cos at the moment I can’t think of any other reason apart from that there’ll be a genital nudity scene.

    And as we ALL know, it’s really important that the public don’t go thinking that transwomen are the same as any other women, right? Yeah, we have to show that they’re all freaks.

    I bet the Big Brother producers were madder n’ hell that their transsexual contestants were post-operative. Think of the ‘cock in panties’ scenes they’ve missed!

    • #8 by Zoe O'Connell on 4 February 2011 - 12:52

      (Catching up on my comments!)

      Ooh, how did it go?

      • #9 by Miss Chrisie Edkins on 4 February 2011 - 14:26

        I went to the London one but I don’t think I got through. I think who ever it is, they are going to be someone who “passes” to a level where you would have to ask them. I know for a fact, I was just not good enough. Say no more.

        • #10 by Zoe O'Connell on 4 February 2011 - 16:09

          Interesting. They want someone who passes very well but they need to be pre-op Trans, not post-op or cis.

          That’s… odd.

      • #11 by Chrissy J on 4 February 2011 - 23:37

        I didn’t go in the end. I wasn’t well.

        I think it would have probably ended in an argument, anyway.

  7. #12 by Miss Chrisie Edkins on 4 February 2011 - 10:11

    Something I have always wanted to do and show the world from a first person perspective what life is like in the shoes of a single parent transexual. Can be hard and can it’s strange and funny moment’s but I also think the killer angle is brilliant. If I had the chance of the role for the main part I just know the killer part would be so much fun.

    The only issue is, if the image of a transexual in this show is not portrayed correctly then I know for a fact this will cause great concern in the community and could open a can of worms. They must focus on getting this right, and not cast another image like the Bounty adverts or Little Britain have done. Focus on the difficulty’s and not make it a freak show or transexual porn.

    Chrisie

  8. #13 by jade on 2 August 2013 - 01:47

    It is important because transsexual women are an oppressed minority who are deliberately ignored by all manner of employers, including casting agents. Even to play themselves. Should white actors play African-Americans? Should cis men play cis women? Please.

(will not be published)


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