Transgender Actor to Portray a Barbie Doll in Upcoming Movie

Meet the Barbie doll who’s playing dress-up in more ways than one.

Hari Nef is the biological male “transgender” actor who is playing the doctor version of the Barbie character in the upcoming live-action “Barbie” movie.

Nef said on social media just how important he believed it was for a transgender person to portray the toy character. 

Identity politics and cinema aren’t my favorite combination,” Nef said before delving into exactly that.

Nef made his point by telling a story about how he and his transgender friends always called themselves “dolls” as “a bid to ratify our femininity, to smile and sneer at the standards we’re held to as women.”

“Underneath the word ‘doll’ is the shape of a woman who is not quite a woman—recognizable as such, but still a fake,” Nef said.

The message he is trying to convey to the wider audience is unclear. Is he conceding that a transgender woman truly is not a woman?

Nef also shared the backstory he created for his specific Barbie doll character in an interview with Vogue magazine. He explained that the owner of his particular doll is not a little girl but a “gay man in his 50s” who shows off his Barbie’s outfits to his friends.

“This is no child’s doll,” Nef continued.

The fact remains clear, however, that Nef is aware of how impactful Barbie is to women and girls.

In another interview with Vogue magazine, Nef praised the movie’s director, Greta Gerwig, for being “an important architect” of what we consider to be a female character. In Nef’s case, a female character doesn’t have to be female at all.

But Nef isn’t the only actor in the movie who has conflated his role with identity politics. Co-star Ana Cruz Kayne said her portrayal of Supreme Court Justice Barbie is “so powerful” and “such a loaded” topic for her since Roe v. Wade was overturned a year ago.

In Barbie’s world, the women hold the power. They are the ones with glamorous and accomplished jobs, from diplomat to Nobel Prize-winning physicist, while the men just exist. Narrator Helen Mirren explains that in the “Barbie” movie reality, “all problems of feminism and equal rights have been solved.”

But is it feminism to tell an audience of women and girls there is nothing so different about us that even a man can be a woman?

The Barbie brand has long been a love letter to strong, independent women and their femininity. Young girls grew up learning through Barbie that they could embrace uniquely feminine beauty and still be successful and accomplished. Even the first Barbie Dreamhouse in 1962 did not include a kitchen or cleaning supplies, but a casual and fun independent living space for the doll—a novel idea for women at the time—while still decorated in a feminine style.

Today, the “Barbie” movie is focused more on the inclusion of nonwomen into a brand originally intended specially for women. The casting of a Nef is not the first instance of female erasure in the Barbie brand, as Mattel released its first transgender Barbie just last year and gender-neutral Barbie dolls in 2019.

Barbie should be a celebration of our inherent differences from men, not a Left-wing symbol promoting the notion that a man pretending to be a woman can do the same job as us.

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