Hollywood Movies lacking Transgender Characters


Hollywood movies are lacking transgender characters according to GLAAD’s fifth annual Studio Responsibility Index.

In a year that saw Moonlight win Best Picture, Hollywood is still lacking with LGBTQ characters who drive the storyline and appear in a film for more than a mere minute.  The first half of 2017 may be better as far as the main studios are concerned but whose to say how the rest of the year will pan out.  We’ve seen Beauty and the Beast, which did feature a gay character and Power Rangers had a character that is an assumed lesbian.

GLAAD looked at the films released by the main studios: 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers.  They did separate study of films released by the art-house divisions.Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions, and Sony Pictures Classics.

“With many of the most popular TV shows proudly including LGBTQ characters and stories, the time has come for the film industry to step up and show the full diversity of the world that movie audiences are living in today instead and end the outdated humor seen in many films,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Films like Moonlight prove there is a huge opportunity to not only tell LGBTQ stories worthy of Oscar gold, but to open the hearts and minds of audiences here and around the world in places where these stories can be a lifeline to the people who need it most.”

An area that needs major improvement are transgender characters.  All I can say is this: include us if it’s going to drive the storyline.  I don’t count films like The Assignment as having a transgender character.

According to the report:


Hollywood film most notably falls behind other forms of media in its portrayal – or lack thereof – of transgender characters. For the second year, GLAAD found one trans-inclusive mainstream film and, again, the character existed solely as a punchline. Paramount’s Zoolander 2 included Benedict Cumberbatch as All, a cartoonish portrayal of someone who is non-binary, who only exists to mock people who don’t perform traditional gender roles as strange and “other.” Several other mainstream films, which did not have transgender characters, nevertheless included so-called humor rooted in trans panic. There was one film from the smaller subsidiary studios, Fox Searchlight’s Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which included transgender characters. Again, the character’s identities were treated as punchlines and one was a last minute reveal. Filmmakers should question what they are really communicating to audiences when they use thoughtless “humor” targeting an already marginalized community.

Hollywood can and should do better.  Heck, I have a few writing projects with transgender leads.  Some have not made it past the outline stage, let alone the initial premise.  I developed an outline for an original sitcom pilot as a result of a Second City class but that’s television, not film.  I do have some movie ideas but it’s a question of what causes less family drama should those films get made.

The full SRI report can be found here.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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