GLAAD works with Hollywood to shape transgender stories and help cast trans actors

By |
May 12, 2020

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 20% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. Given this reality, 80% 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, film studios, production companies, showrunners, script writers, casting directors, ad agencies, and public relations firms to help bring fair and accurate representation of transgender people to the screen.

As interest builds in telling transgender stories, there has been a growing interest and imperative 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 and matched with media projects. 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: Generation Q and Blumhouse and Sony Pictures' The Craft, GLAAD can help during all stages of production: from the early writing and development stages all the way to script consultation, 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 inadvertently 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:

Storyboarded and consulted on the revival of Nickelodeon show Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling for Netflix

Years of consulting with Xbox led to announcement of first playable transgender lead character in the game Tell Me Why

Worked with MTV's Faking It to educate the writers on how to create a trans high school character, and promoted their casting call for transgender actors

Collaborated with CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful as they decided to disclose that fan-favorite Maya Avant was also a transgender woman

Helped recruit 200 transgender people from around the country to play a trans choir in FOX's Glee episode Transitioning

Consulted with ABC News, providing information and resources for the Diane Sawyer interview with Caitlyn Jenner 

Media trained four of the transgender youth featured in MTV's Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word

Conducted media trainings at E! as they created the docu-series I Am Cait 

Conducted trainings for TLC as they created I Am Jazz, starring Jazz Jennings, a trans teen, and her family

Provided script feedback and background information for TeenNick's Degrassi as they introduced Adam, the first transgender teen character on TV; the episode received an Emmy Award nomination and a Peabody Award

Media trained the cast of World of Wonder's TransGeneration and educated reporters about how to cover the show

Worked with ABC's All My Children to help introduce a transgender character to the daytime soap opera

For more on GLAAD's history working with Hollywood, please visit