Hilary Swank thinks there's still ''a long way to go'' when it comes to transgender rights.

The 44-year-old actress won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of murdered transgender man Brandon Teena in 'Boys Don't Cry' in 1999, and has said whilst some progression has been made in advocating for rights for transgender people, she wouldn't necessarily say things are ''better''.

When asked if she thinks trans rights have improved, Hilary said: ''I don't know how we define better. Expanding awareness is definitely growth. We have a long way to go still.''

Reflecting on her role in the movie, Hilary also commented on the controversy that surrounded Scarlett Johansson earlier this year when she was cast as a transgender man in drama movie 'Rub & Tug', which she later pulled out of.

She said: ''[There are people] who have said I shouldn't have done 'Boys Don't Cry', [but] at the time, the whole community was grateful that I did it because they said, had it been someone who was from this experience, people would have said: 'Oh, you're just telling your personal story.'''

But the 'Million Dollar Baby' star insists things are different since she played Brandon two decades ago, because ''everyone'' should be given the opportunity for a starring role, including trans actors.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, she said: ''What's hard is that not everyone is given an opportunity, and that's where I think the struggle is. Nobody knew who I was when I did 'Boys Don't Cry'. I was a newcomer - and the movie did well.

''The important thing to remember is people are wanting to be seen for who they are. And people are fighting for their space in the world. That I understand. But I do think it can be a slippery slope, because I don't think anyone should be pigeonholed.

''And I do think that all genders should have an opportunity to be an actor and tell their stories. And I think that all genders should have the opportunity to audition for all types of roles. I was honoured to be a part of the beginning of an important conversation. The community means a great deal to me.

''We all have the underlying sameness of wanting to be loved; to give love, to receive love. We all experience pain. It might be from different circumstances, but the pain is the same.''