Andrea James

A fantastic leap – trans cinema’s breakthrough moment

Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman, which has been nominated for best foreign language Oscar

During that interregnum, there had been one other significant Hollywood portrayal of a trans woman: Transamerica. When I saw it in 2005, Transamerica felt like an exercise in compromise, written in the awareness that studios would not cast a trans actor as a lead, but trying to make space by using trans people in supporting roles. The first person on screen was trans woman Andrea James, teaching Bree (Felicity Huffman) how to feminise her voice. Despite this, and a scene where Bree attends at a party for trans women, played by trans women, Huffman could not escape the need to establish her character’s transsexuality through a series of clichés: putting inserts in her bra; applying make-up in the mirror (while dressed all in pink); seeing a psychiatrist who praises her “authenticity”. Even this timidity, though, outdid The Danish Girl.

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