Leto portrays Rayon, the AIDS-afflicted business partner of Matthew McConaughey's Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée.
The film is the latest instance of an award-winning, prominent Hollywood production that features a non-transgender actor in a transgender role. Earlier, Felicity Huffman earned a Golden Globe for her performance in TransAmerica, while Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her star turn in Boys Don't Cry.
"Right now, we have television and movies that are aiming to show a positive or respectful depiction of trans people — and yet refuse to hire trans people [as actors]," Vancouver writer and actor Amy Fox told CBC News.
In the attached video, Deana Sumanac reports on the debate brought to light by Leto's acclaimed turn.