I am an actor here in Chicago who just happens to be transgender. I identify as female and pass with no problem. However I want to know if I should tell my agent I am transgender, being that I would like to do any transgender roles, however I don’t want it to limit me to just doing trans stuff. Please let me know what you think!


Hi Jessica,

Great question! I’m actually casting a feature film right now that includes a transgender teen role and it is a fascinating new experience for me, sorting through submissions of males to see who could be feminine enough and sorting through submissions of females to see who could be masculine enough while still being feminine. It is a great moment for me when I come across an actor who is actually transgender and imagine how exciting it must be to see a breakdown out there in which you are exactly what we’re looking for. How often does that happen?

Turns out, more and more, lately! Of course, I watch enough reality shows to know that America’s Next Top Model had its first transgender participant last year and that The Real World: Brooklyn currently features a post-op transgender housemate. Getting to see the issues these people face each week is a real eye-opener and — just like when reality TV featured prominently the lives of homosexuals or interracial couples or anyone else residents of the Red States might not have had any exposure to — it is awesome to see more and more acceptance of, and opportunities for, actors who can portray these complexities from a very real place.

So. Do you tell your agent that you are transgender or do you keep that to yourself? Ah, my favorite answer: It depends. It depends on the relationship you have with your agent! Some agents have been pitching me actors leading with, “She’s actually transgender, so you really need to meet her for this role!” Others are explaining, “He’s very feminine. He goes in for roles like this all the time.” And others say, “She’s got a very masculine quality but is still very much female. She’ll do a great job for you on this.”

Does an actor who is actually transgender stand a better chance at booking the role than an actor who is not? Nope. No more so than an actor who is actually a specific racial makeup, a follower of a specific religion, or of a particular sexual orientation is more likely to book a role in which the character description includes any of that.

Remember, casting directors and producers care what you can play much more than who you truly are. So, if it arms your agent with some great tools to pitch you on projects without excluding you from consideration on other roles, go for it! But if you don’t have the kind of relationship with your agent that could withstand “this much information” (i.e.: if your agent is the type of person who wouldn’t ever submit you on a female role once he learned you are transgender, despite the fact that you absolutely identify and pass as female), it may be best to treat that status just like you would your religion or your ethnic background.

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000991.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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