Watch an eye-opening video that spells out why Hollywood needs trans actors.

Hollywood has a problem on its hands.

In the video above, produced by ScreenCrush in partnership with GLAAD, several transgender actors dive into how the entertainment industry is failing to fairly represent an already marginalized group.


Those flaws, as ScreenCrush senior editor Erin Oliver Whitney says, end up hurting trans people offscreen too.

"I didn’t grow up watching many positive or accurate depictions of trans or gender nonconforming people on screen," says Whitney, who is nonbinary and transgender, and helped produce the video. "And the roles I did see certainly weren’t played by trans folks."

Actor Alexandra Grey (“Drunk History,” “Transparent”). GIF via ScreenCrush.

That, in a nutshell, is the big problem.

Here are three vital takeaways from the video, "Why Hollywood Needs Trans Actors," which is part of ScreenCrush's Our Hollywood series:

1. There are very few transgender characters in TV and film — and even fewer that depict trans folks as real people.

As the video points out, citing a GLAAD report, there was just one major Hollywood film that featured a transgender character in 2015 — and that character was the butt of a joke. That wouldn't be such an alarming statistic if most Americans knew several trans people in their own lives and, as a result, understood that transgender people are as complex and relatable as anyone else.

But that's not the case.

Laverne Cox, who stars in CBS' "Doubt" and Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," is one of the very few prominent Hollywood actors who are trans. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Just 16% of Americans report knowing someone who is transgender personally, which means the vast majority have perceptions of transgender people largely based off what they see in the media.

When the very few trans characters on TV and in films consistently fall into harmful stereotypes — like, that trans people are all mentally unstable — what picture does that paint to audiences? And, even more consequential, what kind of message does that send to young, closeted trans people, anxious to come out in a world that's reluctant to accept them for who they are?

“We’re mocked, our bodies are shamed, we’re made into villains, reduced to plot twists and punchlines," the actors in the video said. “Imagine if this is all you saw of yourself?”  

2.  It truly is harmful when cisgender (not transgender) actors play transgender characters on screen — even if it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

This point may seem counterintuitive; it's called "acting" for a reason, right? Why shouldn't a cisgender man be able to play a trans woman on screen if it's all just make believe?  

It sounds simple enough. But that perspective misses a critical point about a casting's ramifications in the real world.

Actor Matt Bomer, who is not transgender, has been criticized for playing a woman who is trans in the film "Anything." Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images.

When cisgender men are cast in roles for trans women, it reiterates a pervasive, damaging idea, GLAAD's Nick Adams wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, that being trans is "an act," and — beneath it all — transgender women are really just men.

Deep-rooted transphobia — mixed with the effects of toxic masculinity — make this issue a literal life or death one for trans people.

As Adams wrote (emphasis added):

"That message is toxic and dangerous. It's what prompts lawmakers in states like North Carolina to legislate that a transgender woman must use the men's restroom, humiliating her and putting her in harm’s way. It's what motivated James Dixon to murder Islan Nettles as she walked down the street, minding her own business. At his trial, Dixon said that he attacked the 21-year-old black trans woman after he flirted with her, then his friends teased him saying, 'That's a man.' Not wanting to be 'fooled' and feeling like his 'manhood' was threatened, Dixon killed her."

"Right now, in this culture, there are consequences," the actors in the video explain of casting cis actors for trans roles. "Bad ones."

3. Casting more trans actors in better roles is important. But Hollywood should go further than that.

Trans artists should be behind the camera as well — working as directors, producers, writers, assistants, and more. They need allies in positions of privilege to help provide those opportunities, though; the more involved transgender people become in the creative process, the more prevalent and accurate trans representation will become on the big and small screens.

Director Lana Wachowski ("Cloud Atlas," "The Matrix"). Wachowski is one of the few prominent transgender directors in Hollywood. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

“We need you to show us as we really are," the actors said in ScreenCrush's video. "Tell our stories with the creativity, dignity, humor, and depth that make us real people."

The stories told by Hollywood aren't inconsequential; they help shape the world around us in significant ways.

As Whitney notes, "Movies and TV may just be fictional entertainment, but they have the power to reflect parts of ourselves, show us possibilities for who we can be, and most significantly, educate."

Actor Ian Harvie (“Transparent,” “Mistresses”). GIF via ScreenCrush.

We have the power to do better.

Learn more about improving transgender representation at GLAAD.com.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Several years ago, you wouldn't have known what QAnon was unless you spent a lot of time reading through comments on Twitter or frequented internet chat rooms. Now, with prominent Q adherents making headlines for storming the U.S. Capitol and elements of the QAnon worldview spilling into mainstream politics, the conspiracy theory/doomsday cult has become a household topic of conversation.

Many of us have watched helplessly as friends and family members fall down the rabbit hole, spewing strange ideas about Democrats and celebrities being pedophiles who torture children while Donald Trump leads a behind-the-scenes roundup of these evil Deep State actors. Perfectly intelligent people can be susceptible to conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A person who was a true believer in QAnon mythology (which you can read more about here) recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit, and what they shared about their experiences was eye-opening. The writer's Reddit handle is "diceblue," but for simplicity's sake we'll call them "DB."

DB explained that they weren't new to conspiracy theories when QAnon came on the scene. "I had been DEEP into conspiracy for about 8 years," they wrote. "Had very recently been down the ufo paranormal rabbit hole so when Q really took off midterm for trump I 'did my research' and fell right into it."

DB says they were a true believer until a couple of years ago when they had an experience that snapped them out of it:

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

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That's the scenario Shepard described in his recent podcast, in which he announced that he's now seven days sober. For people who struggle with addiction, it's a cautionary tale. He didn't take a drink, and he didn't touch cocaine. His slide into addiction relapse happened with prescription painkillers—Vicodin and Percocet. He started taking prescription pain pills after a motorcycle accident in 2012, moved to taking pills with his dad who was dying of cancer, and then came a gradual spiral of justifications, lying, gas lighting, and other addictive behaviors that enabled him to abuse those pills without acknowledging he was doing so.

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However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

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