Jared Leto Defends Transgender People After Award Show Heckling

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Jared Leto's winning streak for his role in Dallas Buyers Club continued this week at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The musician-slash-actor was one of seven Virtuoso Award recipients (which also included Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan). All was going as planned, Leto was on stage, but a pair of hecklers in the audience had a different agenda.

"Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award," shouted an unidentified woman, sitting near the front of Santa Barbara's Arlington Theater.

"You don't deserve to play a trans-woman," the heckler continued, after Leto asked her for an explanation. As you probably know, the actor has been sweeping awards for his portrayal of Rayon, a transgender woman in the film. People reports that Leto delivered a short but poignant response to the hecklers. "… Because I'm a man, I don't deserve to play that part?" he began. "So, you want to hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can't play a straight part?"

The hecklers complained that straight people always win awards for playing anything other than straight. "Then you make sure that people that are gay, people that aren’t straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art," Leto concluded as the audience broke into applause. He then offered to continue the conversation backstage, the two women obliged, and People reports they all left happy. Leto for the win again, ladies and gentlemen. (People)