If A Transwoman Can Play A Transwoman In Indian Movies, How About In Hollywood?

by Guest Contributor Monica Roberts, originally posted at TransGriot.

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I found it interesting last year that a young Indian transwoman has gone somewhere that transpeople in the States haven’t. But what else is new for us here?

Last year Karpaga made history in India as she became the first transwoman to be cast in a lead role in a commercial film. She was cast as the lead in a Tamil language film called Paal, which means gender in the Tamil language.

While Indian transpeople are justifiably proud of this cultural step up since they have been dissed for far too long in movies like their American cousins, at least they actually have transwomen playing transwomen in their films.

And based on the plot synopsis for this one, Paal looks pretty interesting. She’s playing an intellectual filmmaker who falls in love and faces the ‘do I tell’ dilemma.

What we’ve gotten here in the States, be it the silver screen or television is cisgender actresses scooping up those role. The recent announcement that Nicole Kidman is set to play pioneer transwoman Lili Elbe in the indie film The Danish Girl only heightens our annoyance about this.

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It’s not like we don’t have transgender actresses in Hollywood. Candis Cayne, Calpernia Addams, Aleshia Brevard, Jazzmun and Alexandra Billings are some of the ones that come to mind. Candis recently had her groundbreaking role in the now cancelled Dirty Sexy Money that ended predictably in her death, but that’s another post.

It would be nice if Hollywood would actually put a transwoman in a transgender role, but they still can’t get it right with cisgender women of color either.

What’s going to have to happen is that transwomen are going to have to write, produce and direct their own stories, and one of those indie films is going to have to make enough money and garner enough awards to get the peeps in Hollywood’s attention.

As for Paal, here’s hoping it’s an artistic and commercial success in India and beyond, and it leads to a nice career for Karpaga and other Indian transwomen who follow in her pumps.