Is this really happening at long last? After years of non-transgender actors and actresses playing trans characters in film —and in many cases scoring lots of trophies for their efforts – a transgender actress will play a transgender woman in a film. Transgender actress Michelle Hendley, following what’s described as a nationwide talent search, has nabbed the lead role as a trans woman in the upcoming rom-com Boy Meets Girl.
Filmmaker Eric Schaeffer, who’s directed comedies such as If Lucy Fell with A-listers like Ben Stiller and Sarah Jessica Parker, plans to start shooting the film in June and has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funding. The film will focus on Ricky, a beautiful twenty-one year old transgender girl living in Virginia with dreams of becoming a fashion designer in New York. He described the comedy as an exploration of “the universal theme of exploring one’s identity, regardless of sexual orientation, age and race.”
Schaeffer thinks its high time for a positive film portrayal of a transgender character and thinks he’s up to the challenge and wanted to cast an actual trans actress in the lead. He found Hendley via a Skype audition.
“I’m passionate about breaking the mold of sexual and emotional convention in the pursuit of creating more unity in our increasingly fractured world,” he said to Queerty. ”Being a ‘straight man,’ albeit one who admits to many things most straight men don’t, and living my life with a colorful spectrum of sexual and emotional tastes, desires and behaviors that don’t always seem to be accepted, I feel a duty to portray characters in my films who, like myself, admit to and accept without condition the parts of themselves and others that can be best described and must start being labeled as one thing and one thing only: human. That is why I make any film. That is why I am inspired to make this one.”
Is this the first time a transgender actress has played the lead in a rom-com that will presumably have a happy ending? Let us know in the comments section.
Ashley Love, an activist and organizer with the transsexual anti-defamation group M.A.G.N.E.T, sent in the following statement in response to this story:
We appreciate Schaeffer casting an actual woman of trans* experience to play a trans* character. He should be careful that his statements don’t misrepresent our communities by inaccurately using terms “sexual orientation” and “gay.” Transsexualism is actually a medical condition and transgender is about gender identity, therefore “gay” isn’t an umbrella term that heterosexual women of trans* experience belong to and being born trans* isn’t about “sexual orientation.” People should have trans* groups advise them on trans* depictions because many times distinct trans* issues get conflated through our LGB handlers, who many times misgender us themselves.