Trans actor Karla Sofía Gascón sues French far-right politician after ‘sexist insult’

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The actor, who became the first transgender woman to win the best actress prize at Cannes, had earlier dedicated her award to ‘all the trans people who are suffering’

The first transgender woman to be awarded the best actress prize at the Cannes film festival filed a legal complaint on Wednesday over a “sexist insult” from a far-right politician after her win.

Karla Sofía Gascón and co-stars jointly received the accolade on Saturday for their performances in French auteur Jacques Audiard’s Mexico-set narco musical Emilia Perez.

In the film, the 52-year-old Spanish actor – who lived as a man until she was 46 – plays a Mexican drug trafficker both before and after gender reassignment surgery.

After her win, French far-right politician Marion Maréchal, granddaughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, posted on X: “So a man has won best actress. Progress for the left means the erasure of women and mothers.”

Gascón, through her lawyer, told AFP: “We need to stop such comments.”

Her lawyer Etienne Deshoulières said she had filed a legal complaint for “sexist insult on the basis of gender identity”.

In an interview with Radio France Internationale, Maréchal responded to the legal complaint, saying: “I will not be prevented from continuing to say what is the truth. Being a woman or a man is a biological reality, whether you like it or not. The XX or XY chromosomes cannot be surpassed.”

Gascón, who has a wife and daughter, dedicated her win in Cannes to “all the trans people who are suffering”.

Earlier during the festival, she urged others to stop labelling people like her.

“Being trans is unimportant. A trans person is someone going through a transition. Once they have transitioned, that’s it. They are what they are,” she said.

Described by the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw as a “bizarre yet watchable musical melodrama of crime and gender”, Emilia Perez earned praise from critics for not fixating on the gender transition, but moving beyond to explore themes of family, love and the victims of Mexico’s gang violence.