An Australian stage show has been cancelled after LGBTQIA+ activists slammed the producers for casting a cisgender actor to play a trans character.
The show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch was dropped from the 2021 Sydney Festival after the Queer Artist Alliance Australia said it was “offensive” that Australian actor Hugh Sheridan was to perform the role of a transgender person.
In an open letter to Sydney Festival, the producers, and Sheridan, the group wrote: “The choice to cast a cis-gender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans-community, and continues to cause genuine stress and frustration amongst trans- and gender- nonconforming performers all across Australia.”
The post went on to urge followers to share the letter on social media with the hashtag #TransIsNotACostume.
The show’s producers issued a statement in response to the backlash, announcing the production would be postponed.
“In casting Hedwig we auditioned a wide, diverse range of performers and no one from any background was excluded from this process, and were encouraged,” the statement read.
“We wish to assure the Trans and LGBTQIA+ community that the issues raised are respected and taken very seriously. We appreciate your patience in giving us time to properly consider these concerns and respond accordingly.”
Sydney Festival also followed up with a statement of support for the producers’ decision to postpone the show.
“The value of equality and inclusivity have long guided the work of Sydney Festival. With these values in mind, the Festival supports the producer’s decision to postpone the January season of Hedwig and the Angry Inch as they respond to issues raised around casting in the production.”
I suppose that also means we won’t be seeing any more LGBTQ actors portraying non-LGBTQ characters? After all, if “transgender isn’t a costume,” neither is cisgender.