On January 18, GLAAD announced the nominees for the 34th GLAAD Media Awards, and many of this year’s nominees center diverse and compelling stories about transgender and nonbinary people.
In the Outstanding Film – Streaming or TV category, the nominees include Billy Porter’s directorial debut, Anything’s Possible, which stars Eva Reign as a teenage trans girl navigating a new romance in high school (shown below). The screenplay by Ximena García Lecuona, a trans woman, was chosen for the 2019 GLAAD List, a list of the most promising unproduced LGBTQ screenplays.
In the Outstanding Film – Limited Release category, Wendell & Wild, a stop-motion horror/comedy about two scheming demon brothers, features Raúl, an artist and a trans boy who helps the lead girl save the day (shown below). Neptune Frost, an Afrofuturist film about a hacker collective of workers rebelling against exploitation, includes a character that changes gender in the middle of the film. Neptune defies labels, but it’s clear that their gender cannot be contained by binary ideas of “man” and “woman.” In Death and Bowling, from director Lyle Kash, a transgender actor is struggling when the beloved captain of his lesbian bowling league dies, and then a mysterious stranger shows up at the funeral. Kash, a trans director, showcases an all-trans cast in front of the camera to tell this story.
In the Outstanding Film – Wide Release category, the Tom Hanks film A Man Called Otto, about a depressed man struggling in the wake of his wife’s death, features the supporting character of Malcolm, a transgender teenager that Otto befriends. In the gay rom-com Bros, Eve Lindley, TS Madison, D’Lo, Julia Scotti, and Becca Blackwell are among the trans actors who appear.
In the Outstanding Documentary category, Framing Agnes, directed by trans filmmaker Chase Joynt, showcases a cast of transgender actors reenacting case files from a 1950s gender clinic to confront the legacy of medical gatekeeping and cisgender media fixation to ask how trans people today can understand the experiences of those fighting for access to transition in the mid-twentieth century (shown below). Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story, follows the story of professional skateboarder Leo Baker as he navigates transitioning in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics. The Book of Queer is a documentary series about the lives and impact of important figures in the LGBTQ history, including many transgender people. Trans actors including Marval A. Rex, Dominique Jackson, Juliana Joel, and Gottmik portray some of the people profiled. In Queer for Fear, a documentary series about LGBTQ representation in horror, Emily St. James, a trans media critic, provides commentary on how horror has treated transgender characters in the past.
Last year, GLAAD created a new category, Outstanding New TV Series, to recognize series that premiere during the eligibility period. This year’s nominees include Queer as Folk, a reboot about a group of queer friends in New Orleans dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy, featuring trans actress Jesse James Keitel, and nonbinary actors Fin Argus and CG, in series regular roles (shown below). Netflix brought us the long-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman which features trans nonbinary actor Mason Alexander Park playing Desire. In A League of Their Own, Lea Robinson plays Bertie, a Black transgender man living with his wife in the 1940s. Our Flag Means Death, about a wealthy landowner in a midlife crisis who becomes a pirate with a very queer crew includes the nonbinary character Jim Jimenez, played by trans nonbinary actor Vico Ortiz. In Somebody, Somewhere, Murray Hill plays Fred Rococo, a trans man living in a small town who is part of a tight-knit queer community.
The only nominee for Outstanding Comedy Series to include transgender representation is season two of the Canadian hit Sort Of, co-created by and starring trans nonbinary writer and actor Bilal Baig. The show is about a nonbinary millennial trying to balance their roles as a child of Pakistani immigrants, a bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore, and a caregiver to the young children of a professional couple. GLAAD is strongly advocating for more transgender characters in the genre of comedy.
In Outstanding Drama Series, seven of the ten nominees include transgender characters. The Umbrella Academy created a tender storyline for Elliot Page’s Viktor Hargreeves in season three (shown below). September Mornings, a Brazilian series about a transgender woman determined to live an independent life, returned for season two. This touching series stars Liniker, a well-known singer in Brazil who recently won a Latin Grammy (shown above). Gossip Girl, a reboot about a group of wealthy Upper East Side teenagers, includes the transgender character Luna La, played by transgender actress Zion Moreno. Other returning series with trans characters include: 9-1-1: Lone Star starring Brian Michael Smith as Paul Strickland; The L Word: Generation Q starring Leo Sheng as Micah Lee; Star Trek: Discovery starring Blu del Barrio as Adira and Ian Alexander as Gray; and Good Trouble with Hailie Sahar in a recurring role as Jazmin Martinez.
In the Outstanding Reality Program – Structured category The Come Up follows several Millennials making their way in the big city. The cast includes Claude Schwartz, a trans actress studying acting, and Ebon Fore, a trans woman who creates events to serve the queer Brooklyn community. We’re Here and Generation Drag also featured transgender and nonbinary people.
In the Outstanding Reality Program – Competition category, trans woman Jayla Sullivan makes the cut and is cast to be a backup dancer in Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. Legendary and RuPaul’s Drag Race also included trans and nonbinary competitors.
This year, GLAAD split the Outstanding Kids & Family Program category into Animated and Live Action categories. The Animated category includes two seasons of Dead End: Paranormal Park, about teens and a talking pug battling demons at a haunted theme park (shown below). Barney, voiced by Zach Barack, is a trans boy with a big crush on his co-worker Logs. Season four of The Dragon Prince introduces Terry, a trans Earthblood Elf, voiced by Benjamin Callins, who is also Claudia’s boyfriend. In The Owl House, trans actor Avi Roque voices the trans nonbinary character Raine Whispers.
In the Outstanding Kids & Family Program – Live Action category, First Day returns for season two and Hannah is finding her voice as an advocate at school. In the Netflix hit Heartstopper, transgender character Elle Argent, played by transgender actress Yasmin Finney, navigates belonging and finding queer family at her new all girls school. And in Raven’s Home, transgender actress Juliana Joel plays transgender character Nikki, the spoiled, rich assistant at Raven’s fashion company (shown below).
In the Outstanding Children’s Program category, several trans and drag performers voice characters in “The Mint Gala” episode of Strawberry Shortcake: Berry in the Big City.
Six of the 10 games nominated for Outstanding Video Game feature trans and/or nonbinary characters: Apex Legends, Desta: The Memories Between, I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, Need for Speed: Unbound, Tiny Tina’s Wonderland, and Wylde Flowers. GLAAD worked closely with Respawn Entertainment as they created Catalyst, the first transgender Legend in Apex Legends (shown below). Check back soon for a story about the LGBTQ representation in the Outstanding Video Game category.
In the Outstanding Comic Book category, The Nice House By the Lake by James Tynion IV includes a transgender woman as part of a group of friends being held hostage in the nice house while the rest of the world is destroyed. And in New Mutants, trans writer Charlie Jane Anders brings us a new mutant named Shela Sexton (aka Escapade), a transgender teenager who can switch locations or trade possessions and abilities with anyone near her (shown below).
The Outstanding Graphic Novel/Anthology category includes Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, by Jadzia Axelrod, a novel about a teenage alien princess who is forced to hide on Earth (disguised as a boy) when her home planet is conquered. Magical Boy, by The Kao, is a comical coming-of-age story about a young trans boy just starting his social transition who discovers that he is expected to inherit the role of “Magical Girl” formerly held by his mother and grandmother. Complications ensue, as he is magically changed into a princess costume every time he has to fight the bad guys. This year saw the release of Heartstopper Volume 4, which continues to follow Elle Agent’s deepening romance with Tao Xu. Fine: A Comic About Gender, by Rhea Ewing is a nonfiction book that portrays conversations Ewing had with over 50 people in their small Midwestern town about gender. Their art beautifully captures the nuances of those conversations. Young Men in Love is an anthology of stories celebrating love between men, including stories of trans men in love. Finally, for the second year in a row, both Marvel and DC Comics published anthologies spotlighting their LGBTQ characters. DC Pride 2022 and Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 both include short stories featuring trans and nonbinary characters – many of them superheroes – by trans and nonbinary writers.
In Outstanding Music Artist, performers Kim Petras and Honey Dijon received nominations.
In the Outstanding Broadway Production category, A Strange Loop, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical about a young Black artist at war with his inner demons, featured trans actress L Morgan Lee who broke new ground by becoming the first out transgender actress to be nominated for a Tony Award. While her characters onstage are not explicitly trans, her role in the show and her powerful performance were groundbreaking steps forward for Broadway.
Many talk show and journalism nominees feature trans people and/or highlighted issues affecting the trans community. These stories are included among the nominees:
- “Transgender Rights II” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
- “The War Over Gender” The Problem with Jon Stewart (Apple TV+)
- “LGBTQ Trailblazers” If We’re Being Honest with Laverne Cox (E!)
- “Introducing Nora J.S. Reichardt” (WOI/KCWI-TV [Des Moines])
- “Life As A Trans Soldier” VICE News Tonight (VICE)
- “Dear Noah: Pages from a Family Diary” (NBC News NOW)
- “Families of Trans Kids Are Seeking Sanctuary” VICE News Tonight (VICE)
- “Activists Face An Avalanche Of Anti-Transgender Bills” by Casey Parks (The Washington Post)
- “EXPLAINER: Pronouns, Nonbinary People and the Club Q Attack” by Jeff McMillan with Jesse Bedayn, Jim Mustian, Colleen Slevin, Jake Bleiberg, Lindsey Tanner (Associated Press)
- “Pediatricians Who Serve Trans Youth Face Increasing Harassment. Lifesaving Care Could Be on the Line” by Madeleine Carlisle (TIME)
- “Alabama Is Trying to Raise the Legal Driving Age for Trans People to 19” by Nico Lang (The Daily Beast)
- “My Experience As A Target Of Kiwi Farms Speaks To A Scary Truth About Internet Culture” by Katelyn Burns (MSNBC.com)
- “The New York Times, The Atlantic, More Keep Publishing Transphobia. Why?” by Lexi McMenamin (Teen Vogue)
- “There Is No Legitimate ‘Debate’ Over Gender-Affirming Healthcare” by Kit O’Connell (TexasObserver.org)
- “What’s So Scary About A Transgender Child?” by Emily St. James (Vox.com)
- “Deaths In The Family” (Insider.com)
- “Logo’s Trans Youth Town Hall” (LogoTV.com)
- “Myth of Two Sexes” (Scientific American)
Many nominees in the Spanish-language categories also include transgender and/or nonbinary people. Check back soon for a story about the LGBTQ representation in the Spanish-language categories.
Several of the nominees this year also include nonbinary characters who are not explicitly defined as transgender, adding to the growing conversation about gender diversity. Those nominees include: Chucky, P-Valley, Grey’s Anatomy, Heartbreak High, The Best Man: The Final Chapters, Monster High: The Movie, Rebel Cheer Squad: A Get Even Series, Zombies 3, The Come Up, and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.
The 34rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards nominees were published, released, or broadcast between January 1 and December 31, 2022. The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies, which fund GLAAD’s work to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance, are currently scheduled to be held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, March 30, 2023 and in New York at the Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 13, 2023. You can keep up with the latest developments by following GLAAD on Twitter and Instagram.