GLAAD President Calls on Hollywood to Create More Transgender Characters for TV: Cultural ‘Watershed Moment’ Needed

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 08: GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis speaks onstage at a Night of Pr
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for GLAAD

The president of GLAAD is calling on Hollywood to create more transgender characters for TV, saying a cultural “watershed moment” is needed similar to the one that gays experienced in the 90s.

Sarah Kate Ellis, who has served as GLAAD’s top executive for a decade, spoke to Variety about what she plans to say  when she receives a special award during the Emmys on Monday.

“We have seen those watershed moments (for lesbian, gay and bisexual representation), whether it was Ellen DeGeneres coming out or Will & Grace,” Ellis told the trade publication.

“What we don’t have yet is a watershed moment for the trans community. I see this opportunity as a chance to speak to the academy and all the creators in the room to say that we need that moment. We need you to create and write about trans people because there were over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills proposed this past year and most are against trans people and our trans youth.”

Ellis is referring to legislation that protects children from irreversible medical procedures including sex-change operations and hormone therapy.

The mainstream news media uses the innocuous-sounding term “gender-affirming care” to describe these procedures, many of which are experimental when it comes to children.

Ellis added: “But what’s taking up that space in the media right now are political pundits who are talking about trans people with misinformation and in negative ways. We need Hollywood to be the antidote to that.”

GLAAD’s most recent diversity report found that transgender characters accounted for 5.4 percent of the characters, both regular and recurring, across all platforms on TV from 2022 to 2023.

In reality, less than 1 percent of adults identifies as transgender, according to a study of UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.

However, the number of youth identifying as trans is surging, with the study’s estimate of the number of youth who identify as transgender doubling from the previous estimate.

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