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Why Twitter's on the Fence About Transparent's Emmy Wins

Why Twitter's on the Fence About Transparent's Emmy Wins

Why Twitter's on the Fence About Transparent's Emmy Wins
RaquelWillis_

LGBTQ characters, series and media makers were showered in nominations and award-winning gold at the 67th annual Emmy Awards ceremony. Amazon’s prized Transparent led the pack with 11 nominations and took home two major awards, best director for Jill Soloway and outstanding actor in a comedy series for Jeffrey Tambor.

This is a major win, but its impact on trans visibility and authenticity divides viewers. Supporters of Transparent have been vocal about the groundbreaking decision Soloway made in translating the real-life story of her parent’s transition.

In numerous interviews, she has been transparent about the source material and both her and Tambor have made sure to give shout outs to the transgender community for being their inspiration.

On the other side of the tracks, many critiqued the major presence of cis people in the development, writing and acting within the show. Notably, much of the supporting cast is comprised of trans actors and actresses, however, many feel placing actual trans actors — who tend to lack access to roles due to discrimination and lack of access in Hollywood — in the main roles and positions of power would be more empowering and lead to a better portrayal.

In addition, the continued praise that cis actors receive from their portrayals of trans story lines is problematic given Hollywood's long history of cis actors and directors co-opting the trans narrative without fully working through their transphobia and transmisogyny. 

For most people — on either side of the debate — Transparent induced confliction. The storyline is authentic in that it’s based on a trans person’s experience, however, it’s largely been told from the cisgender lens of Soloway and her staff. To their credit, the team has worked on being constructive with these critiques by opening up more and more positions to trans people within Hollywood, including the hiring of the series' first trans director.

As well, the actors within the series have been lauded universally for their treatment of transgender issues and Tambor, specifically, has been vocal about the deeper issues that affect the community.

The Emmy Awards was a prime example of the creators' understanding of the issue and responsibility to the community. In an effort to make their wins less about themselves and more about the larger dialogue their work has bolstered, both Soloway and Tambor used their acceptance speeches to advocate for the trans community.

Soloway discussed housing discrimination in reference to her “Moppa” and ended with a call for everyone to learn more at TransEquality.org.

Tambor, in turn, gave a shout out to some of these amazing trans people who helped him get a better grip on the trans experience and dedicated his award to the transgender community overall.

What are your thoughts on the state of trans visibility in Hollywood?

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Raquel Willis

A black trans queer feminist media maven. A proponent of all things equality.

A black trans queer feminist media maven. A proponent of all things equality.