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 Gallup poll, only 30% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. Given this reality, 70% of Americans learn about transgender people through the media, so when the media creates 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 authentic transgender stories, it’s clear that productions must cast transgender actors to play trans roles. While transgender actors should not be limited to only playing trans parts, they bring an important and welcome authenticity to those characters. GLAAD works with the Casting Society of America (CSA) and Actors Access/Breakdown Services to help ensure that trans and non-binary actors have the opportunity to be considered for these roles, and to help casting directors write breakdowns that will help them find the actors they are looking for.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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: Legacy, GLAAD can help during all stages of production: from the early development stages, through 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 GLAAD’s feedback they incorporate into the final project, our goal is always to help them create the best possible work and avoid inadvertently writing something that LGBTQ audiences would find inaccurate, harmful, or 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. And in 2021, GLAAD in partnership with the documentary Disclosure on Netflix released an entertainment industry toolkit along with Sundance Film Institute and the International Documentary Association (IDA) to support authentic and accurate transgender stories. It includes a state of the industry overview, stories to seek and center, best practices for casting and finding transgender talent, questions to consider when starting a film or TV project, and additional materials for research and consultation. All of the toolkits can be found here.
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:
Worked with Oprah Winfrey to prepare her to interview Elliot Page for her show on Apple TV+
Worked with director Sam Feder for years on creating the documentary Disclosure, which premiered at Sundance and was then purchased by Netflix
Consulted on the special episode of the Nickelodeon show Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling for Netflix
Years of consulting with Xbox Game Studios led to the first playable transgender character in a major studio 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
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 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.