On January 28, GLAAD announced the nominees for the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards, and many of this year’s nominees center diverse and groundbreaking stories about transgender people and issues.
Veneno, nominated for Outstanding Spanish-Language Scripted Television Series, is a limited series from Spain, available on HBO Max, that details the glorious, complicated life of Spanish transgender singer and TV personality Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, also known by her nickname “La Veneno.” Created by Javier Ambrossi, Javier Calvo, the series stars transgender actresses Jedet, Daniela Santiago, and Isabel Torres, who portray Cristina at different points in her life; as well as Lola Rodríguez, who portrays trans journalist Valeria Vegas as she befriends Cristina and tells her story. The series also stars Paca la Piraña, playing herself as she portrays her decades-long friendship with Cristina. Veneno is a true breakthrough in storytelling about transgender people, and if you haven’t watched it, please check it out on HBO Max.
In the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series category, Eve Lindley gives a fantastic performance as Simone, a young trans woman and art historian in the AMC series Dispatches from Elsewhere. Created by and starring Jason Segel, the series is about a group of strangers who are thrown together to solve a real-world puzzle and has a stellar cast including Sally Field, Richard E. Grant, and Andre Benjamin. Simone’s story is in no way defined by the fact that she’s trans, but her experiences as a woman who’s trans are not ignored either. And the fact that she’s the love interest for Jason Segel’s character is something rarely seen in stories about trans people. Also in this category, HBO’s I May Destroy You includes Kai, a Black trans man played by Tyler Luke Cunningham.
The Netflix documentary Disclosure, directed by Sam Feder and executive produced by Laverne Cox, is nominated in the Outstanding Documentary category. Disclosure is an in-depth look at Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and the impact of those stories on transgender lives and American culture. The film features an all-trans cast and Feder hired or mentored trans people for every crew position. It has already become an essential part of GLAAD’s work educating media content creators about the tropes, stereotypes, and cliches that have been a part of Hollywood’s portrayal of trans people for the last 100 years.
Other documentaries including trans people and stories include: We Are The Radical Monarchs, For They Know Not What They Do, and Welcome to Chechnya. Documentary series delving into transgender histories include Visible: Out on Television on Apple TV+, and HBO Max’s Equal, which stars Jamie Clayton, Theo Germaine, Alexandra Grey, Isis King, and Hailie Sahar playing transgender and non-binary figures in the US movement for LGBTQ equality. Transmasculine actor Scott Turner Schofield plays the gay, cisgender historical figure Craig Rodwell.
In the Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series categories, trans characters were prominently featured in several series. Brian Michael Smith became the first Black transgender actor in a series regular role on 9-1-1: Lone Star; Star Trek: Discovery features trans and non-binary actors Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander playing the first trans characters in the history of the franchise. Josie Totah redefines the trans high school experience in both the Saved By The Bell reboot on Peacock, and the Netflix animated series Big Mouth (written with the help of Patti Harrison). Nicole Maines continues her role as Nia Nial/Dreamer, the only trans superhero on TV, in Supergirl on the CW.
Four Outstanding Films include transgender characters this year. The Craft: Legacy includes a teenage witch played by trans Latina actress Zoey Luna. Young trans actress Sophie Giannamore plays Aristiana in The True Adventures of Wolfboy, which was also written by a trans woman, Olivia Dufault. Lingua Franca, written, directed by, and starring Filipina trans actress Isabel Sandoval, explores the realities of undocumented trans immigrants. And Abril Zamora, who is trans and Spanish, plays a parent struggling to support her son opposite Sophia Loren in The Life Ahead.
Legendary is HBO Max’s reality competition show exploring the world of ball culture. The nominee for Outstanding Reality Program follows Black and Latinx LGBT house members as they navigate through nine balls. Miss Shalae Saint Laurent and Eyricka Lanvin are women of trans experience who are also house mothers on the show. Black trans man Sydney Baloue writes and co-executive produces the series.
Filipina trans actress, writer, and producer Rain Valdez was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for the role she created in her romantic comedy web series, Razor Tongue, available on YouTube. The series will receive a Special Recognition award from GLAAD this year, as there is not a GLAAD Media Awards category for web series.
In Kids & Family Programming, the Australian show First Day depicts a 12-year-old transgender girl navigating the challenges of starting a new school while living as her most authentic self. Trans and non-binary characters were also featured in “Mary Anne Saves the Day” (The Baby-Sitters Club), and She-Ra & The Princesses of Power.
Five of the ten nominees in Outstanding Video Game include trans characters: If Found…, Ikenfell, The Last of Us Part II, Tell Me Why, and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Tell Me Why from Xbox Game Studios and DONTNOD featured the first playable transgender character in a game from a major studio. Trans actor August Black voices Tyler in the game. The Last of Us Part II is the most critically acclaimed video game of 2020, and stars out trans actor Ian Alexander as Lev, a young trans boy. You can read more about the trans stories in these games here.
In music, Black transgender artist Peppermint is nominated for Outstanding Music Artist, while Venezeulan electronic artist Arca, who is also transgender, is nominated for Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist.
Many Outstanding Talk Show and Journalism nominees featured trans people and/or highlighted issues affecting the trans community. Included among the nominees: “Black Trans Lives Matter” (Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), “Laverne Cox – Exploring Trans Representation with ‘Disclosure'” (The Daily Show with Trevor Noah), “Black Trans Activists on Being the ‘Blueprint for the Struggle for Black Freedom'” (MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson), “Dwyane Wade One-On-One: Basketball Legend Opens Up About Supporting Transgender Daughter” (Good Morning America), “Trans and Non-Binary People Face Voting Barriers Ahead of 2020 Election” (CBSN), “ABC News Joe Biden Town Hall” (ABC), “The Deciders” (CBS), “Pride and Protest: Being Black and Queer in America in 2020” (NBC News NOW), “Pride on ABC News Live: The Landmark Decision” (ABC News Live), “Prideland” (PBS),
Outstanding Print Journalism articles delved into transgender stories in significant ways, as well. Nominees include: “Delaware’s Sarah McBride Makes History as the Nation’s First Openly Transgender State Senator” by Meg Ryan (Delaware Today), “How a March for Black Trans Lives Became a Huge Event” by Anushka Patil (The New York Times), “It’s Time for a New Tipping Point for Transgender Folks in Hollywood” by Tre’vell Anderson (Out), “The Battle Over Title IX and Who Gets to Be a Woman in Sports: Inside the Raging National Debate” by Katie Barnes (ESPN.com), “Trans Athletes’ Fight for Inclusion in World Rugby” [series] by Dawn Ennis, Alex Reimer, Karleigh Webb, and Cyd Zeigler (Outsports.com), “Trans Freedom Fighters” [series] by Sam Levin (TheGuardian.com), “Trans, Imprisoned — and Trapped” by Kate Sosin (NBCNews.com), “A Closer Look: Transgender in Kashmir” (Business Insider), “Stop Killing Us: Black Transgender Women’s Lived Experiences” by Talibah Newman Ometu, Thomas Blount, Juliana Schatz Preston, and Mariah Dupont (Complex World), and “They Will See You: LGBTQ+ Visibility in Advertising” (Great Big Story).
Along with many in the trans community, GLAAD was devastated to learn of the passing late last year of legendary trans advocate and journalist Monica Roberts. TransGriot, her pioneering blog focused on issues affecting Black trans women and the lives of trans people of color, is nominated for Outstanding Blog. This is Roberts’ sixth nomination for Outstanding Blog and she received the award at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Monica also received a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD in 2016. You can watch her acceptance speech for that award here.