About Ray is an upcoming film about a young trans boy who is just beginning their transition, and follows his journey as his family come to terms with it. From the trailer (below) it actually looks like it could be a really good, positive film, which tackles some of the interesting and realistic difficulties faced by trans teens.

About Ray Movie Trailer

However, once again the director has decided to cast a cis actress in the lead role. Now normally this would just make me roll my eyes in disgust and move on, but I found the justification given by director Gaby Dellal downright offensive.

The explanation given was the usual excuse of needing to have a well-known actor in the lead roll in order to get the movie financed, but in addition to this the director explained that:

The part is a girl and she is a girl who is presenting in a very ineffectual way as a boy. She’s not pretending to have a deeper voice. She’s just a girl who is being herself and is chasing the opportunity to start hormone treatment. So to actually use a trans boy was not an option because this isn't what my story is about.

Immediately she has misgendered Ray, calling him a girl, and using female pronouns. However, Ray never was a girl. He is, and always has been, a boy, who happened to be assigned female at birth. He may have once presented as female, but this is not 'a girl being herself', it is a boy being himself finally after many years of not being able to be.

In this statement Dellal is implying that trans men should at least try to pretend to have a lower voice in order to be seen as men and that trans men are not male until they have at least had hormone treatment. It takes a lot of work to constantly try to lower your voice, or to go through speech therapy, something which I have not tried to do as I face enough anxiety when speaking without worrying additionally about whether my voice sounds low enough. For Dellal to say that Ray is a girl because he isn't even trying to lower her voice, is insulting to all trans people who may not have what is deemed an acceptable pitch for their gender.

To say that Ray is presenting as a boy 'in a very ineffectual way' is insulting to all trans people who may not 'pass' or present in a way which is deemed acceptable by society for their gender. Some people may be waiting for medical treatment, not want or be able to get medical treatment, or even with medical treatment may not fit into society's expectations for their appearance. Someone's appearance does not dictate their gender, and that is the fundamental point she is missing here.

Gender is based on self-identification - someone is the gender they say they are, no matter their outward appearance. They don't need to do anything to earn respect and recognition for their gender. This idea that trans people must 'pass' as their gender is archaic and oppressive.

Saying using a trans boy was not an option, makes it seem as though she never really considered it, and never really looked for a trans actor for the role. If she had, then perhaps she would have found that trans men are far more varied than she thought and could have been groundbreaking in destroying this notion that 'post-transition' trans actors cannot play pre-transition trans people.

Then at the end, she is saying her story isn't about a trans boy? Oh right, so a story about a young person assigned female at birth transitioning to male, isn't about a trans boy. That seems like a huge contradiction to me.

Tags: trans