Walter Hill’s film, (re) Assignment starring Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver premiered at TIFF 2016 to a pool of growing criticism from trans activists over the film’s plot — as a form of revenge, Dr Kay (Weaver) forces Frank Kitchen (Rodriguez) into gender reassignment surgery. Yeah.
Like the criticism of Jared Leto’s Oscar-winning role as an HIV-positive trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club, and Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, Rodriguez plays a trans character in a film about trans people with no actual trans actors in it. Confusing? It shouldn’t be. Cis actors continue to win awards and make a profit through the exploitation of trans bodies and realities, and when grilled over playing these roles, none of them have ever had thoughtful answers — in fact, they become rebuttals.
Rodriguez is the most recent celebrity to be slammed for refusing to see how problematic the film is, even suggesting that she can’t be criticized for playing a character forced into a sex change because she’s part of the LGBT community (Rodriguez identifies as bisexual).
Daily Xtra asked the cast of the film to respond to criticism on whether (re) Assignment is transphobic. Prepare for your eyeballs to burn.
Michelle Rodriguez (plays trans character, Frank Kitchen)
“This movie isn’t that deep. We’re just trying, you know, [for] shock effect.”
“It’s just fun. [Hill] just wants to make pulp art.”
Walter Hill (Director)
“I couldn’t get this movie financed with a trans actor. There’s no trans actor that has a big enough name value.”
“I’m sure there’s a trans actor that could’ve played the part, but there was certainly no logical necessity since the character is not a transgender character.”
Sigourney Weaver (plays reassignment surgeon, Dr Kay)
“It’s certainly not a Disney movie but it certainly doesn’t demean or denigrate anyone.”
“I hope people enjoy it as popular entertainment.”
“I think we all went about it in a thoughtful way.”
And here’s the whole interview in case you haven’t caught on fire yet: