What does cisgender mean? Meaning of the term as Halle Berry is accused of misgendering a trans character in an Instagram Live interview

The actress apologised after voicing interest in playing a transgender man
Halle Berry apologised for saying she was considering playing the role of a transgender man (Getty Images)Halle Berry apologised for saying she was considering playing the role of a transgender man (Getty Images)
Halle Berry apologised for saying she was considering playing the role of a transgender man (Getty Images)

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry has apologised after she voiced interest in playing a transgender man in an upcoming film.

The apology came after the Monster’s Ball and Die Another Day actress made comments on the role during an interview on Instagram Live.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Berry was accused of misgendering the character in question, frequently referring to them as a woman.

Others complained that any role involving a trans character should go to a trans actor.

What is cisgender?

In her apology Berry said "Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man and I'd like to apologise for those remarks.

"As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.

"I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and I will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake.”

Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.

What is misgendering?

During her interview on Instagram Live, Halle Berry referred to the character, a transgender man, as a woman.

She said: “[It’s] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man. She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing … Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Members of the transgender community were quick to criticise the actress for misgendering the character in question.

Charity Stonewall defines misgendering as “when someone refers to a trans person using the gender they were assigned at birth instead of their real gender.”

Charities praise Halle Berry for apology

GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy group, welcomed Berry's apology.

It said: "We are pleased that @halleberry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same."

Berry's comments come amid a renewed focus on representation in the entertainment industry, while trans rights have also been in the news due to JK Rowling.

She has been criticised by Harry Potter stars for her beliefs on biological sex, though the author has strongly denied allegations of transphobia.

Netflix's critically acclaimed documentary Disclosure has been praised for its exploration of trans characters in TV and film.