An open letter signed by more than 45 advocacy organisations, talent agencies, and production companies urges Hollywood to prioritize telling stories of transgender people and to involve transgender talent within the creative process.
Led by 5050by2020, a strategic initiative within TIME’S UP that advocates for increased inclusion of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people, and GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organisation, the letter debuted in a special issue of Variety on transgender Hollywood featuring actors Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Alexandra Billings (Transparent), and Chaz Bono (American Horror Story: Cult) on the cover.
Organisations to sign the letter include TIME’S UP, CAA, Shondaland, Bad Robot, Working Title, and Sony Pictures Classics. To coincide with the letter, 5050by2020 and GLAAD have also released a ‘TRANSform HOLLYWOOD’ guide for production companies to use when incorporating trans-inclusive culture into their work and processes.
The letter, which can be read in full here, calls for diverse storytelling and a need for the community to be embraced within Hollywood, stating that: “recently, women and people of color have made it clear they want more authentic stories about their lives in films and on TV. Trans people feel the same way.”
As trans people, we have grown up watching stories told about us by people who haven’t done their homework when it comes to the trans community. We have been portrayed almost exclusively as tragic victims, psychotic killers, and one-dimensional stereotypes. We have been confused with drag queens, seen our history erased in historical films, and been ridiculed for gender expressions that don’t conform to social norms.
This is about more than diversity and inclusion. It’s about empowering trans people and sharing with us the tools and access that have been offered to you throughout your career. It’s about offering people who are different from you the confidence and the sense of belonging that inspires the very best art.
“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway added in a recent interview with Variety that the campaign will seek a pledge commitment from the major studios and networks next.
GLAAD and Variety also released video of a round-table discussion about telling transgender stories and casting trans roles with Cox, Bono, Billings, joined by actors Trace Lysette, Jen Richards, and Brian Michael Smith. Video of the round-table can be seen here.