Black Trans Lives Matter: The LGBTQ fight comes to Hollywood

(CNN)Representation in Hollywood isn’t just about race.

This week Halle Berry reversed her decision to consider playing a transgender man in an unnamed film.

“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks,” the actress said in a tweeted statement. “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”

The controversy erupted after Berry discussed the role last week during an Instagram Live. It called attention to timely discussions about representation in the entertainment industry and society in general.

While the Black Lives Matter movement has been at the forefront since the death of George Floyd, there is at the same time a growing conversation about making sure Black members of the LGBTQ community are not excluded from that narrative.

Last month the murders of two Black trans women, Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, 27, of Philadelphia and Riah Milton, 25, of Cincinnati, sparked Black Trans Lives Matter rallies across the country.

The Human Rights Campaign reports that “2020 has already seen at least 21 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported.”
Berry’s decision attracted the attention of the Twitter account for the Netflix documentary “Disclosure.”

The doc is co-produced by trans actress Laverne Cox, who is one of the stars of “Orange Is the New Black,” and examines television and movie depictions of transgender people.

Last year, trans actress Trace Lysette talked to me, my colleague Sandra Gonzalez and podcast maven and author Kristen Meinzer for our CNN podcast, “Lisa, Sandra and Kristen Go to the Movies.”

Lysette, who is one of the stars of “Transparent” and appeared in the film “Hustlers,” said “It’s been kind of scarce for us trans folks in terms of seeing trans actors in films specifically.”
“TV, we’re making some headway, just now,” she added.

Trans actors of color have had an even tougher time with visibility.

Lena Waithe, a prominent writer, producer and creator of several series, including “The Chi,” has been a vocal advocate for greater inclusion of LGBTQ stories on screen and the need to depict the particular violence and discrimination the Black LGBTQ community faces.
Waithe, who is a lesbian and in 2017 became the first African American woman to win an Emmy for outstanding writing for a comedy series, popped up in the comments for a recent Instagram Live throwdown between gospel artists Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond.
The “Master of None” star and writer urged the pair to also acknowledge that Black trans lives matter when they called out the names of unarmed Black people who have been killed by police.

Franklin and Hammond did not respond.

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