Hollywood leaders sign letter from GLAAD and 5050by2020 to improve trans stories

GLAAD and 5050by2020, a strategic initiative within TIME’S UP advocating for increased inclusion of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people in media, released an open letter urging the entertainment industry to prioritize telling transgender stories, include trans creators in the creative process, and cast trans roles more authentically.  More than 45 production companies, talent agencies, and advocacy organizations, including Ryan Murphy Productions, SAG AFTRA, ACLU, Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Alliance, Shondaland, Norman Lear's Act III Productions, Apatow Productions, Bad Robot, Berlanti Productions, Casting Society of America, CAA, ICM, UTA, WME, Women In Film, Color Of Change and many more, signed the open letter.

“We believe that when trans people are empowered to help culture makers tell our authentic stories, it will improve how trans people are treated in the real world,” the letter states. “Women, people of color, people with disabilities, and diverse faith groups have made it clear they want more authentic stories about their lives in films and on TV. Trans people feel the same way.”

The groundbreaking open letter was published in a special issue of Variety centered around transgender Hollywood, featuring actors Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Chaz Bono (American Horror Story: Cult), and Alexandra Billings (Transparent) on the cover.  

"This historic display of intersectional support for more authentic and inclusive transgender media images sends a loud message of allyship to transgender people," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Hollywood changed the game for gay and lesbian acceptance by telling compelling stories and involving community members in front and behind the camera. At a time when the industry is at a tipping point for empowering diverse voices and audiences are demanding more inclusion, Hollywood needs to prioritize transgender talent and stories."

The letter also encouraged content creators in Hollywood to read TRANSform Hollywood, a resource guide for the entertainment industry, created by GLAAD and 5050by2020, offering tips and best practices for collaborating with trans storytellers and fostering a more trans-inclusive production environment. Among the practices listed in the guide are the inclusion of transgender people both in behind and in front of the camera; suggestions on how to empower and enable transgender people involved in a project; and advice on creating a safe working environment for trans people.

"The TRANSform Hollywood resource guide doesn’t just advance our ability to tell authentic transgender stories and to involve transgender and nonbinary talent in the creative process," said Jill Soloway, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of Transparent and I Love Dick, Founder of Topple, and Co-founder of 5050by2020. "It also advances our mission as an industry to create inclusive, fully representative content that enriches our understanding of each other through the empathetic lens of art. We can at once improve the lives of trans people and capture the importance and breadth of our diverse culture."

"Recently we've seen audiences and critics alike embrace authentic transgender stories starring trans actors, and with the TRANSform Hollywood guide, creators now have the resources they need to create new projects that will raise the bar for trans storytelling, said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media & Representation. "The cross-industry support behind this message of trans inclusion in the creative process is the gratifying result of trans people and our allies speaking up about the need to see our true, authentic experiences reflected in film and TV."

GLAAD and Variety also released a video of a roundtable discussion with Cox, Bono, and Billings joined by actors Trace Lysette, Jen Richards, and Brian Michael Smith to discuss being out trans actors in Hollywood.

You can read more about the open letter and TRANSform Hollywood here. Follow GLAAD on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about our commitment to use the power of the media to accelerate acceptance for transgender people.