Trace Lysette poses in the IMDb Portrait Studio at the 2024 Independent Spirit Awards on February 25, 2024 in Santa Monica, California Source: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for IMDb

Cis Actors Playing Trans? Trace Lysette Says No

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 1 MIN.

The debate around heterosexual and cisgender actors taking on LGBTQ+ roles rages on – and transgender actress Trace Lysette has given her stamp of disapproval to cisgender thesps playing trans characters, saying that being trans is "a very unique life experience. It's not one that you can just go research and then play," unlike other sorts of roles.

IndieWire spoke with the "Monica" star at the Independent Spirit Awards last weekend, where Lysette had been nominated for Best Lead Performance, "alongside fellow nominees Jessica Chastain, Greta Lee, Natalie Portman, Judy Reyes, Franz Rogowski, Andrew Scott, and Teyana Taylor" (though "Jeffrey Wright ultimately won for 'American Fiction,'" IndieWire said).

"Well," Lysette reckoned, "if all things were equal, maybe it wouldn't be as big of a deal as it is, but all things are not equal."

"If there's a trans role, I believe that trans actors should get first dibs," she added, before going on to declare, "speaking as a transsexual woman, I know for a fact that a cis man could not play the same role in the same way that I could, because he hasn't lived what I've lived."

"I've been transitioned since I was a teenager," Lysette continued. "I've lived longer as a woman than I was as a little boy."

"It's a very unique life experience," declared the former cast member of Amazon's "Transparent," which starred cisgender actor Jeffrey Tambor. "It's not one that you can just go research and then play, you know. So that's all I have to say about that."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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