Actress Halle Berry has announced her decision to voluntarily walk away from an upcoming role in which she was to have played a transgender woman. On Friday, Berry spoke about the role during an Instagram Live interview, in which she created controversy by repeatedly misgendering the character.

"[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,"

On Monday night, following criticism from activists online, Berry once again addressed the issue in a post on Twitter where she apologizing and stated that "The transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories".

"Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I'd like to apologize 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," she wrote. "I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake. I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera."

Following Berry's initial remarks in which she misgendered the character she was going to play, a number of well-known trans rights groups sent her messages on social media asking her to change her mind and allow an actual trans actor to play the role. As is always the case where the internet is concerned, there were also plenty of trolls insulting the actress for her attitude towards the character. Which of the two factors had a bigger role in getting Berry to change her mind is difficult to say.

The topic of transgender representation in Hollywood has come into sharp focus in recent times. Scarlett Johansson was cast as a transgender character in the film Rub and Tug back in 2018 before she pulled out of the role after online backlash to the casting.

The main argument made by Trans rights activists is that it is difficult enough for transgender actors to get regular roles in mainstream Hollywood. Having cis-actors play trans characters further pushes trans actors out of the playing field even when their personal experiences make them better suited to such roles.

Interestingly, even as Berry was forced to drop out of her upcoming role where she would have played a transgender character, in the past month this year an online campaign petition had been launched to have Berry replaced by the transgender star of Pose, Dominique Jackson in the role of X-Men group member Storm. The petition received thousands of signatures from supporters from all over the world.

Neeraj Chand