Detractors argue that a transgender actor should have been given the role.
Jared Leto’s Oscar win may have seemed unlikely a few years ago, while the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman was taking a break from the big screen and concentrating on his music, but he was very much the favorite to pick up Best Suuporting Actor for his role as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club on Oscars night – an award that has attracted criticism from certain transgender groups.
Jared Leto and Matthew Mcconaughey as Rayon and Ron Woodruff
While DBC is celebrated for its overarching message, celebrated by its peers in a cinematic context and saw Matthew McConaughey pick up Best Actor for his portrayal of Ron Woodruff, Leto’s role, many feel, could have been played by a transgender actor.
Jos Truitt of the blog Feministing wrote: "I have no interest in watching a cis man in drag play a trans woman ever again. No matter what Dallas Buyers Club does as a film, the narrative around this movie, the fact that a man in drag is playing a trans woman, perpetuates the stereotype that we are men in drag."
Mara Keisling, the executive director at the National Center for Transgender Equality, expressed her feelings to The Huffington Post in an emailed statement. “Leto’s portrayal was of a particular fictional transgender person at a particular time. But we can’t forget that transgender people like Rayon did exist and do exist,” she said.
“To the film's credit, I think it accurately showed what the life of this brave person must have been and how she was treated. Our job is to make life better for transgender people like Rayon in the real world, and it really helps to have these lives told by Hollywood.”
This criticism has been leveled at Leto before. The 42-year-old was accused of 'trans-misogyny' when he was heckled at the Q&A at the Santa Barbara film festival. “Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award," said the heckler.
"What do you mean by that?" Leto retorted, to which the heckler said, "You don't deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you're a man." Then Leto asked, rhetorically: "Because I'm a man, I don't deserve to play that part? So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can't play a straight part?"