Gay Lawyers Digest 6
Is the Artistic Depiction of Transgender Individuals OK if you are straight?
The question of whether a cis-gender person should play the role of a transgender person came under the spotlight with the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Dante “Tex” Gill in the film Rug & Tug. Transgender actors complain that they are frequently only offered transgender roles and straight actors that fill transgender roles are taking work away from a marginalised group of artists. Whilst some accept that the person who is the best fit for the role should get the part.
There has been no shortage of cis-gender actors who have taken on transgender roles: Jared Leto, Eddie Redmayne, Kathleen Turner, Glen Close, Felicity Huffman, Hilary Swank, Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave are just a few. Conversely, many LGBT actors have played straight roles, even romantic lead roles, albeit often without their adoring fans being aware of their sexual orientation. Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Marlon Brando lead the way.
The directors and producers in the film industry are fully aware that there is more than the actor’s ability to consider when casting a film and an actor’s potential to pull in an audience is a significant consideration in the commercial success of a film and will not be overlooked. Artistic licence has always been extended to the casting of any dramatic role - Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan - care must be taken not to create a situation where an actor can only play one type of character based on their gender, age, race, colour and sexual orientation.
LGBTQ University Course in India Sponsored by Openly Gay Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of India, who is openly gay, has founded a course as part of a Law and Liberal Studies degree at the Karnavati University in Guijarat, the capital of Gandhinagar State in India. The course is entitled Proclivity of Gender: Socio-legal approach to the LGBTQ Community. Students will study the physical and mental health of individuals who are part of the LGBTQ community, including HIV issues as well as learning about the anti-homosexual laws imposed by the British colonists.
The Prince says: “through this course, we will present facts about the community, that are backed by evidence and reasoning to the students to make them understand various aspects of the LGBT community.” He further commented: “the idea behind the course is to foster inclusive education and greater social acceptance towards the third gender.” India is one of the few countries that acknowledges a third gender, known as hijra in India. Hijras often live in separate enclaves on the margins of society. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have accepted the existence of the hijra as the third gender and in India and Nepal, there is an option for them to be listed as such on passports and other official documentation.
The Prince has pledged to fight against discrimination and the convener of the course, Professor Shrut Brahmbhatt, hopes the course will help illuminate the minds of the rising generation so that his students will understand the plight of the LGBTQ community in India and there will be a move to treat such people as equals.
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