An essay from Playboy magazine, which overall is somewhat negative on Leto’s performance and the fact that no transwoman actress was chosen. I must say, at first blush the comments of Leto and Calpernia Addams sound reasonable:
“Do we need a molecular nano-biologist from Zaire to portray a molecular nano-biologist from Zaire?”
When applied on a general basis, this argument holds water, except in certain situations (it would be quite a stretch to have Drew Barrymore portray Memphis Minnie, for example). Unfortunately, due to the incredibly few transgender characters appearing in television, plays, and films, this general rule creates a chilling effect on the prospect of having any actual transgender actor or actress portray a transgender character. The same general arguments were used at one time to block Jews from portraying Jewish roles, and gays and lesbians from portraying those roles. So for now, we pretty much have Laverne Cox as the sole representative of a transperson portraying a trans character in a popular series. How unfortunate.