Not A Performance: Jared Leto and the Media

(Warning: Dallas Buyers Club spoilers)

So, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rayon, a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club. A cis man won an award for portraying (poorly) a trans woman in a movie. This almost writes itself like a joke, waiting for a punchline. Sadly, the punchline is all too common, trans narratives being over written by cis voices. In fact, Rayon’s character was originally written as a drag queen. The director and Leto decided to change Rayon to a trans woman….without changing any of the script. Rayon’s character is not based on any real person. She is an entirely fictionalized representation meant to bring pity from the main character, Ron, as well as drive his character development.

This is interesting, because Leto refuses to acknowledge the character he played, the fact he portrayed a woman. When confronted with his transmisogyny he spoke of “the Rayons in the world”. He did not speak of trans women. Even in his Oscar acceptance speech, he mentioned Ukraine. No where did he ever mention the type of very REAL people he was portraying in the movie. To Leto and the director, Rayon was just a character, an act. To them, there are not real women in the world like Rayon.

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Media’s Giant (Trans) Exploitation Problem

“Focus on the science, not the scientist.” That is what Caleb Hannan promised Dr. V when interviewing her about her golf putter. However, during his research for his piece, Hannan found out that Dr. V happened to be trans*. Upon this discovery, Hannan broke his promise to his client and proceeded to write a piece, focusing on Dr. V’s past, her trans* status, misgendering her, and outing her to her investors. Due to this, Dr V committed suicide. Despite this tragedy, the piece still went up.

A piece littered with misgendering, focusing on her history as a trans woman, and painting Hannan in the light of some detective uncovering the Watergate of this century. Why? Because the woman he was writing about happened to have a different birth assignment than the one he assumed? He broke the trust and privacy of the person he was writing about for a profit. His story about a golf putter suddenly became one of lies and deceit in his eyes. Why? What does the assigned gender of a person have anything to do with golf? Was this story about her overcoming misogyny? Was this a story of intelligence beating out bigotry? It was not. This was supposed to be a story about the science behind the golf putter Dr. V invented.

Forget “focus on the science” that he promised this woman. She was no more, so to the wind that went. The entire piece became about the scientist, that Hannan had killed with his own hands. This man even had the gall to call a piece full of misgendering, pointless back story, and broken promises a eulogy. Last time I checked, a eulogy was not the cause of death. He even went as far as to brag on Twitter about the “strangest story” he has ever written. Are eulogies supposed to be strange? Or are they supposed to highlight the triumphs, life, and positives of a person’s life? Hannan is directly responsible for the death of a woman. So, what will happen?

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