My initial reaction to this was “Oh well that’s a relief, it’s good to know the director understands the difference.” But there’s a problem there, and the comment I screenshot gets in to it.
Most mainstream audiences will not understand this nuance, they’ll see a male actor calling himself female and interpret that as a trans woman because that is the narrative media keeps feeding them.
I tried to explain this to a coworker last week, and utterly failed because I didn’t address why it is so problematic that we keep getting cis men in these roles. It’s never a cis woman, it’s rarely a trans woman, it’s always a cis man. For trans women this is like a white man putting on blackface to play a black character. It’s just plain offensive.
The only time the character is played by a cis woman is if she is a villain. THEN it makes the “deception” of the character more powerful… because thats what media wants to put forward, that trans women are deceivers. We’re seen as men trying to trick the world into thinking we’re women (this is where the slur “trap” is rooted). If we were seen for what we really are, women with a physical malady, then studios would always cast women in these roles, even for pre-transition roles, because then at least the actor would be portraying woman having to pretend to be male, which is exactly what many of us had to do for much of our lives. It’s also a lot easier to make a female bodied actor look male than to make a male bodied actor look female.
The response from my coworker was that acting is an art form and that actors should be expected and allowed to portray parts that they don’t fit themselves. It was an attitude that left me completely flustered because it ignores the systems in play of minority oppression. When a person of minority status is standing in front of you and saying that a representation of your minority is harmful and offensive, “artistic license” is not an acceptable response! It doesn’t matter if it’s gender identity, sex, or race. Listen and don’t argue!