While television shows like Orange is the New Black, Transparent and even I Am Cait is doing a great job in increasing transgender visibility on our television screens, Hollywood is still falling behind in devoting much screen to the lives and experiences of trans youth. However The Weinstein Company is hoping to change all that with their upcoming release of About Ray.
About Ray has an all star cast that sees Naomi Watts, Susan Surandon and Tate Donovan join Elle Fanning as she plays a transgender teen struggling for acceptance. Judging by the trailer, it’s definitely going to pull at the heart strings as it highlights the many struggles that trans youth face on a daily basis from family life, to school life, to the many legalities involved in transitioning at a young age.
Check out the About Ray trailer below.
ABOUT RAY tells the stirring and touching story of three generations of a family living under one roof in New York as they must deal with the life-changing transformation by one that ultimately affects them all. Ray (Elle Fanning) is a teenager who has come to the realization that she isn’t meant to be a girl and has decided to transition from female to male. His single mother, Maggie (Naomi Watts), must track down Ray’s biological father (Tate Donovan) to get his legal consent to allow Ray’s transition. Dolly (Susan Sarandon), Ray’s lesbian grandmother is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding.
While some might be asking why doesn’t About Ray have a trans actor in the titular role, I do have my own thoughts on that topic. Some people might agree with me while there might be those that don’t. Filmmaking is a business and in short, well-known actors and actresses in Hollywood have more chance of selling tickets at the box-office than an unknown does. It’s the nature of the beast whether we like it or not. When going into production the studio has to have some guarantee that film will make a profit.
Yes, there will be some people up in arms about the fact that Elle Fanning is a cisgendered person playing a trans character, but at the same time she should be praised in doing so for two reasons. Firstly for not being transphobic to think that such a role will have negative consequences for her career. Lets be honest, most people that play LGBTI characters, there is often a fair amount of negative abuse and criticism that they are faced with. Secondly she should be applauded for the fact that she is helping raise transgender visibility in a medium that has often overlooked or badly portrayed transgender people and the many issues and struggles that they face on a daily basis.
Will Elle Fanning do justice to the transgender issues being highlighted in About Ray? Only time will tell. While I do look forward to the day when we see more transgender actors and actresses having more prominence in Hollywood, in the meantime we can at least be happy that there are films such as About Ray being released that is not only increasing transgender visibility but also hopefully breaking down taboos and answering the many questions being asked from the broader community.
Directed by Gaby Dellal, About Ray arrives in theaters September 18.
What did you think of the trailer?