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A Transgender Romance Hits Theaters in May, But LGBT Activists Aren't Pleased

Man identifying as a woman holds a glass of wine.

Next month, a romantic film about a transgender "woman" will hit theaters and the trailer launched this week. LGBT activists and transgender actors in particular are far from pleased, however. While a main character, Freda Von Rhenburg, is transgender, the actor playing him isn't. Matt Bomer himself is not only biologically male but also identifies as man (often referred to as "cisgender" or "cis"). Even so, he plays a man ... who identifies as a woman.

"I auditioned for this. I told them they shouldn't have a cis man play a trans woman. They didn't care," tweeted Jen Richards, a transgender actor best known for the television series "Her Story."

Another transgender actress, Jamie Clayton, who plays a transgender blogger in the Netflix series "Sense8," posted a more passive-aggressive message. "I really hope you both choose to do some actual good for the trans community one day," Clayton tweeted, tagging Bomer and "Fast & Furious" actress Michelle Rodriguez, who plays a female-to-male transgender in the upcoming film "The Assignment."

Clayton's underhanded tweet suggested that neither Bomer nor Rodriguez had done anything to help the transgender community, despite playing transgender characters onscreen. Bomer and Rodriguez are not the first "cisgender" people to play transgender characters onscreen. In "Dallas Buyers Club" (2013), Jared Leto played a transgender character, as did Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl" (2015).

Leigh Monson over at BirthMoviesDeath summed up the criticism: "Cis dudes playing trans women just isn't cool, guys."

"Anything" producer Mark Ruffalo tweeted his sympathy for the transgender community. "To the Trans community. I hear you. It's wrenching to you see you in this pain. I am glad we are having this conversation. It's time," he wrote.

Ruffalo defended his choice to support Matt Bomer for the role. "In all honesty I suggested Matt for the role after the profound experience I had with him while making 'The Normal Heart'," a 2014 film about the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s, he explained.