Halle Berry apologizes after comments about playing a transgender man receive backlash

Halle Berry recently revealed she was considering playing a transgender character in an upcoming film. After receiving backlash for her remarks, Berry took to Instagram to issue an apology.

Berry first revealed she was considering the role while speaking with hairstylist Christin Brown during an IGTV interview on Saturday. Berry said she wanted to “experience that world” and “understand that world,” referring to the transgender experience. 

“[The role is] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man,” Berry said. “She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing.”

“Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project,” she said.

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Wow, wow, WOW!!! Screaming “WE LOVE YOU” to one of the greatest people I will ever know! Check out my exclusive chat with @halleberry about hair on & off set, the culture, and going down memory lane with fave hairstyles! • • • #curlfactor #curls #curly #curlyhair #halleberry #texturetalktuesday

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Berry received backlash on social media for using the wrong pronouns to describe the character throughout the interview. She also received backlash for considering herself a candidate to play a transgender man.

“Trans people are so very tired of cis actors taking up roles that so many trans people would give anything to play,” one commenter, named Diana Hex, wrote on the video of Brown’s interview with Berry. “@halleberry please reconsider this, especially given you’ve already misgendered your character from the jump. Your language is damaging. A woman doesn’t transition into a man. He is and always was a man.”

“Please rethink this role. There are plenty of us trans actors who are more than capable of telling our stories, myself included,” wrote Los Angeles-based actor Jordan Gonzalez. 

On Monday, Berry posted a statement on her Instagram stories, responding to the criticism. 

“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man and I’d like to apologize for those remarks,” Berry wrote. “As a cisgender woman, I now understand I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”

“I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and I will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake,” she continued. “I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation both in front of and behind the camera.”   

Cis or cisgender describes someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth. Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural and social expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Berry is not the only cisgender actor to turn down the role of a transgender character after first considering it. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson dropped out of the film, “Rub & Tug,” after she received backlash for her plans to play the lead role of a transgender man. In statement to Out.com, Johansson said she has decided to “respectfully withdraw” her participation in the project.

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