GLAAD works with Hollywood to help create transgender roles and cast transgender actors

By GLAAD |
June 1, 2019

 

According to a recent Pew poll, nearly 90% of Americans say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, or bisexual in their personal life. However, according to a recent Harris poll, only 16% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. Given this reality, 84% of Americans learn about transgender people through the media, so when the media writes transgender stories and characters, it is imperative they get it right.

Nick Adams and Alex Schmider, GLAAD's Transgender Media Program team, work closely with TV networks, production companies, showrunners, script writers, casting directors and agencies, and public relations firms to help bring fair and accurate representations of transgender people to the screen. 

As interest builds in telling transgender stories, there has been a growing interest in casting transgender actors to play trans roles. While transgender actors should not be limited to only playing trans parts, they can bring an important and welcome authenticity to those characters. GLAAD has recently started working with the Casting Society of America (CSA) and Breakdown Services to help ensure that transgender actors have the opportunity to be considered for these roles, and to help casting directors be better informed about how to cast transgender characters. 

GLAAD also has access to a national network of transgender actors, acting coaches, and experienced transgender talent, who can be connected to casting agents for opportunities. Please contact transgender@glaad.org for assistance in recruiting for roles. In addition to helping write breakdowns and promote casting calls, which can often ignite social media excitement and produce international earned media as in the case of Showtime's The L Word and Blumhouse's The Craft, GLAAD can help during all stages of production: from the early writing and development stages all the way to post-production and final marketing, communications, and promotion. 

GLAAD is a free resource for media content creators, providing general transgender competency trainings, feedback on scripts and character breakdowns, media training cast members, and taking a look at PR materials to help those in the entertainment industry present compelling stories about transgender people. While it's always up to the creators how much of our feedback they incorporate into the final show, our goal is always to help them create the best possible work and avoid inadvertantly writing something that LGBTQ audiences would find inaccurate, or worse, offensive.

In collaboration with 5050by2020, GLAAD created a "Guide to Transform Hollywood" signed by over 40 organizations and companies which outlines best practices for transgender representation and storytelling.

Over the years, GLAAD has worked with many networks and studios, including: NBC, CBS, ABC, FreeForm, The CW, OWN, E!, MTV, Oxygen, TLC, Sony Pictures casting, Fox Standards and Practices, Viacom Networks, Netflix, Showtime, HBO, Comedy Central, among others.

"This type of collaboration between established industry professionals and the transgender community is key to ensuring that trans people can find employment both in front of and behind the camera. As more transgender people participate in creating media, trans storytelling will become more authentic and real and rewarded." - Nick Adams, director of GLAAD's Transgender Media Program

Here are some of the many projects GLAAD has consulted with as they created shows with transgender characters or people:

The following articles contain quotes and commentary by Nick Adams, the director of GLAAD's Transgender Media Program. 

  • "Hollywood is 'in the Sidney Poitier phase of trans representation' in TV and film" Los Angeles Times

  • "Transgender Representation on TV Hitting New Highs, From 'Transparent' to 'I Am Cait'" Variety

  • "Who Gets to Play the Transgender Part?" The New York Times

  • "More Transgender Actors Are Wanted, But Will Hollywood Listen?" Huffington Post

  • "Casting Society of America and Trans Performers and Filmmakers Collaborate for Transgender Casting Inclusivity Event" Casting Society of America 

  • "Transgender Characters on TV: How the Roles Have Grown & Why It’s Important" IndieWire

For more on GLAAD's history working with Hollywood to create transgender characters, please visit