Felicity Huffman Says She ‘Wouldn’t Be Able to Do’ a Trans Role Again

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Feb 18, 2024

In 2006, Felicity Huffman delivered a groundbreaking performance as a trans woman in “Transamerica,” earning an Oscar nomination for her role. At the time, the film was celebrated for its sensitive portrayal of transgender issues.

However, Huffman says that today, she wouldn’t accept such a role, acknowledging the importance of authentic representation in the entertainment industry. This shift in perspective reflects the ongoing dialogue about who should portray transgender characters, emphasizing the need for opportunities for trans actors.

The Shift in Hollywood's Casting Practices

Hollywood’s approach to casting has significantly evolved, with a growing emphasis on authenticity and equity. Huffman’s comments on her role in “Transamerica” highlight this shift, pointing to a broader industry trend toward more thoughtful casting decisions.

A young man and woman pictured holding a production sign and an old film reel

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This change aims to ensure that characters are portrayed by actors who share their lived experiences, fostering a more inclusive and representative media landscape.

'I Wouldn't Be Able to Do It Now'

Huffman’s candid admission that she wouldn’t take on her “Transamerica” role if offered today is a powerful acknowledgment of the importance of authentic casting. By telling The Guardian, “I wouldn’t be able to do it now,” Huffman underscores the significant strides made toward recognizing and rectifying the misrepresentation of transgender individuals in film and television.

Transamerica Poster with Felicity Huffman

Source: IMP Awards/Wikipedia

Her stance supports the growing consensus that such roles should be filled by those who can bring genuine perspectives and experiences to the portrayal.

Reflecting the Audience in Casting

Huffman believes that the entertainment industry must reflect its diverse audience in the characters it brings to life. This commitment to inclusivity is crucial for creating stories that resonate with everyone, regardless of their background.

Boxes filled with popcorn at a movie theater.

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Huffman’s advocacy for a casting process that includes all identities and experiences is a call to action for Hollywood, urging a reevaluation of traditional casting practices to embrace a more representative and equitable approach.

Authentic Representation: A Path to Equity

There are studies that show authentic representation in Hollywood leads to higher box office returns, according to Fast Company. This is not just about fairness in casting; it’s about equity and the opportunity for all actors to pursue a range of roles.

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Huffman’s hopes for a future where “anyone can play anything” speak to a desire for an industry where talent, not identity, is the primary consideration. However, achieving this goal requires acknowledging and addressing the historical underrepresentation and misrepresentation of marginalized communities in the media.

Navigating Controversy: The College Admissions Scandal

Huffman’s career and public image were significantly impacted by her involvement in the 2019 college admissions scandal.

An image showcasing a bronze statue of Lady Justice holding balanced scales, beside the statue is a gavel in bronze

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Serving a brief prison sentence and facing widespread criticism, Huffman’s journey through the aftermath of the scandal has been a process of personal reflection and public atonement.


Choosing Hir for a Comeback

Huffman’s decision to star in the revival of Taylor Mac’s “Hir” is a deliberate choice to engage with complex, contemporary issues. By portraying Paige, the mother of a transgender child, Huffman dives into the nuances of gender identity and family dynamics against the backdrop of societal change.

People at Theater with a spotlight on the red curtains

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This role offers Huffman an opportunity to contribute to important conversations about acceptance, transformation, and the human experience.


Growth and Redemption Post-Scandal

Huffman’s journey following the college admissions scandal has been one of growth and redemption. Speaking with The Guardian, she emphasizes the importance of her family’s well-being and her commitment to making amends.

A close-up image of a wooden gavel resting on its sound block on a desk. In the blurred background, a lawyer or judge can be seen sitting behind a laptop, partially visible and dressed in a suit with a tie

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Huffman’s return to the stage in “Hir” reflects her ongoing efforts to rebuild her career and reputation by engaging with meaningful work that challenges and inspires both her and her audience.


A Legacy of Diverse Roles

Throughout her career, Huffman has tackled a variety of roles that showcase her range as an actor.

Actress Felicity Huffman attends the 5th annual Critics' Choice Television Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel

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From “Desperate Housewives” to “American Crime,” Huffman has demonstrated an ability to bring depth and complexity to her characters.


Hir: A Brief Synopsis

Directed by Steven Kunis, the play at the Park Theatre features Golden Globe winner Huffman as Paige, a radical matriarch leading a domestic revolution, joined by a talented cast including Steffan Cennydd, Simon Startin, and Thalía Dudek.

A dark movie theater with empty seats.

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The thought-provoking production explores the transformation of a family home and the freedom from oppressive regimes.


The Impact of Hir on Huffman’s Career

“Hir” stands as a significant project in Huffman’s career, symbolizing her commitment to engaging with socially relevant themes and complex characters.

Felicity Huffman attends A New Way Of Life 2022 Gala at Skirball Cultural Center

Source: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

This role allows Huffman to participate in the broader dialogue about gender, identity, and societal norms, potentially marking a turning point in how she is viewed within the industry and by the public.


Huffman's Future Endeavors

As Huffman looks to the future, questions remain about the roles she will choose and the causes she will support. Her involvement in “Hir” and her reflections on past roles suggest a path forward that prioritizes authenticity, inclusivity, and meaningful storytelling.

Felicity Huffman arrives at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awardsat The Beverly Hilton Hotel

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Huffman’s career evolution continues to unfold, so we’ll wait to see what she does next. Will you be following her career too?