Hollywood agencies sign pledge to promote more opportunities for trans people in film

Laverne Cox for Gay Times June 2018

Jacqueline Harriet for Gay Times

For too long trans roles in major movie releases have largely been played by cisgender actors.

But now, in a new pledge signed by several major agencies in Hollywood, the film industry has committed to promote the advancement of opportunities for trans people in the industry, in front and behind the camera.

GLAAD and 5050by2020 released an open letter to Hollywood outlining why it’s vital trans people are involved in telling their own stories, as well as publishing a TRANSform resource guide.

“We know that the best storytelling is diverse storytelling, and it’s clear that Hollywood is at a tipping point,” the letter reads, which was published first in Variety.

“Studios and production companies are bringing more people into the creative process, hearing their stories, and creating better films and TV shows because of it. It is time for transgender people to be included in this conversation.”

The letter highlights the fact that at least 44 trans women – almost all of them trans women of colour – have been murdered in the US over the past 18 months, while 30% of trans people live in poverty.

What’s more, 40% of trans people have reported attempting suicide, while a third of trans people has been verbally abuse or denied healthcare from a medical professional.

Related: Remembering all the trans individuals who have been killed in the US this year

“In the US, 80% of people say they don’t know a trans person in their family, workplace, or school. That’s where Hollywood comes in,” the letter adds.

“Hollywood tells the stories that help people understand how to feel about themselves and how to feel about people around them who are different.”

The letter has been signed by 45 agencies in Hollywood, all vowing to support trans people in the industry.

Among them are J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Alliance, Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Productions, Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, Ryan Murphy’s Ryan Murphy Productions and Half Initiative, Judd Apatow’s Apatow Productions, Norman Lear’s Act III, Time’s Up, SAG-AFTRA, and talent agencies CAA, UTA, and WME.

Ryan Murphy has already made broad strides in hiring trans talent in Hollywood, having already assembled the largest cast and crew of trans people for his FX series Pose, which debuted on the small screen earlier this year.

“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,” the letter reads.

“It’s about offering people who are different from you the confidence and the sense of belonging that inspires the very best art. We know Hollywood is a business as well as a creative community.

“We are not asking you to stop making money. We are asking to be brought to the table, so that our knowledge, talent, and stories can help improve your work and increase its value.”

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