Zero transgender characters in major Hollywood movies for four years running
The LGBTQ media organization acknowledges the past year resulted in a unique situation for theatrical movies, but it still went ahead with its 2020 Studio Responsibility Index, their report card for sorts on how well Hollywood's major studios brought LGBTQ representation to the screen. GLAAD found that, out of the 44 films released by those entities, none of them included trans or non-binary characters.
In fact, this is the fourth year in a row where this has happened. By GLAAD's own estimates, that's zero trans characters out of almost 400 films since January 2017. The last time a transgender character was included in a major studio film — Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, etc. — it was an "offensive caricature," as GLAAD dubbed it: Benedict Cumberbatch's All in 2016's Zoolander 2.
More positive examples of representation, such as Daniela Vega's performance in 2017's Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, were released through specialty indie distributors and were not included in GLAAD's reporting.
GLAAD further stipulated that there were a "handful of major releases" that featured trans and non-binary actors in recent years, but they did not count those in their tally "unless their story was made clear on screen." A good example of this is trans actress Trace Lysette, who appeared in 2019's Hustlers, though her character wasn't identifiably trans.
"This is a great time of transformation for Hollywood — challenged to redefine business lines and practices during a global pandemic, driven by an increased demand from consumers hungry for new content, and rocked by the rightful reckoning and pressure for these studios to create more meaningful substantive change in representing and investing in marginalized communities," GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis writes in her opening statement for the report.
"This transformation represents a great opportunity to swiftly accelerate acceptance of LGBTQ stories, break new ground, and invest in queer and trans talent and stories in an unprecedented way," she continues. "Hollywood and the business of storytelling must be more nimble, more creative, more open than ever before."
Meanwhile, on TV, GLAAD acknowledges great strides being made. Just this week, Rodriguez achieved a major milestone as the first trans performer to receive an Emmy nomination in a lead acting category. She was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for her work as Blanca in the final season of FX's Pose.
According to GLAAD's report, "Respondents who had been exposed to LGBTQ images in media within the past three months reported far higher percentages of increased acceptance of LGBTQ people in recent years compared to those who had not seen an LGBTQ image in media in the past three months."
The organization did find some improvements being made on screen in film. Ten of those 44 titles from major studios included LGBTQ characters, from Birds of Prey and The New Mutants to Like a Boss and Valley Girl. That encompasses 20 total characters, and that includes eight (40 percent) characters of color.
They further found a decrease in bisexuality characters, an increase in lesbian characters, and zero characters living with HIV or disabilities.
The full Studio Responsibility Index for 2020 can be found on GLAAD's website.