With award season winding down, my Twitter and Facebook feed has been bombarded with op-ed pieces criticizing the movie Dallas Buyers Club- which ironically won best actor and supporting actor at the Oscars a couple weeks ago. So what’s being criticized? A few things:
1) The fact that a straight actor was cast to portray a trans woman despite there being actual real life trans-actors available to play the role.
2) The way in which the Rayon- the trans character- was depicted. Shown as an image obsessed makeup wearing to the death trans woman; as opposed to what a regular trans woman looks like- a real woman, with a career. Agreed- a better representation of the transgendered community in the media is needed.
3) The overall lack of knowledge surrounding the transgendered community and the generalization of the lives of the trans men and women- vividly painted when film director Jean-Marc Vallee referred to the trans character as “the thing” in a December interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when asked about the casting of a trans actor to play the role.
These are all valid arguments in my opinion. But since I can’t fairly speak of behalf of the trans community, I can share my opinion of the flick as a young gay guy- it was moving. Here’s why:
1) Because I wasn’t around during AIDS crisis, it’s sometimes easy to forget the struggle that gay men faced. The stigma attached to the disease, the fight for effective medication that didn’t have the adverse side effects of AZT- the FDA approved drug of the time- and lengths that the people went to survive e.g.. clinical trails.
2) The courage and determination of Ron Woodroof. Despite his bleak diagnosis, he pushed back and showed a tremendous will to live. His research and acquisition of new drugs that the FDA where no where near testing prolonged his life from a month to six years. Not only did he help himself but he extended a hand to the gay community and provided those crucial drugs that weren’t available.
3) The fact that this character, Ron Woodroof, actually existed and created the Dallas Buyers Club is mind blowing. If what the film suggests is true, this straight Texan rodeo loving womanizing electrician came to the aid of the gay community. I don’t know about you but I find that astonishing. Some might argue that it was done for personal gain but the bigger picture shows a selfless compassionate human being with a mighty will to live. Exceptional.
“I am my own physician.”
– Ron Woodroof