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Karla Sofía Gascón is ​the first transgender woman to win Best Actress at Cannes

Karla Sofia Gascon Best Actress Award Emilia Perez Palme DOr Winner 77th Cannes Film Festival 2024
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images

Gascón's historic victory can't be spoiled — not even after being attacked online by a right-wing French politician.

Spanish actor Karla Sofía Gascón made history over the weekend when she became the first transgender woman to win win Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival.

Gascón, 52, earned the award jointly with the other stars of musical crime comedy Emilia Pérez, an ensemble film also featuring Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldaña, and Mexican actor Adriana Paz. Gascón particularly received acclaim for her role as a Mexican drug lord who comes out as a transgender woman and decides to transition.

Gascón accepted the award on behalf of the group, declaring in her acceptance speech, "Selena Gomez, I am in love with you." She then dedicated the award to “all transgender people who suffer and must keep faith that changing is possible."

“Tomorrow, there will be plenty of comments from terrible people saying the same things about all of us trans people,” she said. “But I want to end with a message of hope. To all of them, like Emilia Perez, we all have the opportunity to change for the better, to become better people. If you have made us suffer, it is time for you also to change."

It wasn't long after her Saturday night milestone that Gascón's prediction of comments from "terrible people" came true. Commenters spewing hatred online were joined by French far-right politician Marion Maréchal, the head of the country’s Reconquête! party, who called Gascón's performance "female interpretation" and fallaciously claimed "progress for the left is the erasure of women and mothers.”

Six European LGBTQ+ groups — Adheos, Familles LGBT, Fédération LBGTI+, Mousse, Quazar, and Stop Homophobie — have since filed a complaint against Maréchal with the Paris Public Prosecutor for using “transphobic insults.” Stop Homophobie said on Twitter/X that “this illegal behavior reinforces the climate of violence in which LGBT+ people live in France”.

"Maréchal's speeches are heard by those who take action," the group wrote. "Since 2016, violence against LGBT people has skyrocketed by more than 129 percent, with the largest increase in transgender people. We are more determined than ever to protect them."

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.