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.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less