Steve Friess is a white man who wrote a racist opinion column for Time Magazine about Jared Leto’s portrayal of a gender nonconforming gay man who died of AIDS in the 1980s. Transgender activists have claimed offense at Leto’s portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club for a number of reasons, including the fact that a “transgender woman” should have played the role. Criticism by transgender activists ignores the fact that in the 1980s, Rayon would not have identified as transgender at all. Transgender activists and their liberal supporters also ignore the fact that transgender women are male.
Friess adds fuel to this fire by falsely analogizing the “plight” of trans representation in film to that of African-Americans. Friess is like many white liberals who engage in false analogy without any awareness of how ahistorical it is to compare systemic racial oppression – institutionalized in the United States first through slavery and then through Jim Crow laws that actively subjugated Black people – to the “inability” of men to express their “true gender” or use the ladies’ restroom. He also ignores that fact that under white supremacy, Black people behaved in “stereotypical” ways for survival – that is, they wanted to avoid being raped by white men and murdered by white people. This is very different than a “transgender woman” acting in stereotypical feminine ways. Indeed, for transgender women, they are not seen as “women” unless they engage in stereotypical “feminine” behavior. Further, a male actor like Jared Leto can do this just as well as a “transgender woman” because the reality is, is that they are all male.