GLAAD just released its annual Studio Responsibility Index, and things are not good for trans representation.
GLAAD surveyed all the films released by eight major motion picture studios during 2020 and, unfortunately, no transgender characters at all were found. This lack of representation hits especially hard in a time when transgender people are facing a barrage of new anti-trans bills across the country.
This is the fourth year in a row that transgender and nonbinary characters have been completely absent from the report. GLAAD also found no LGBTQ+ characters living with HIV and no LGBTQ+ characters with disabilities.
Due to the international pandemic, this year’s survey results were limited to just 44 films, compared to 118 films the previous year. Out of the 44 films, 10 (or 22.7 percent) featured LGBTQ+ characters. This is an increase of 4.1 percent from the previous year, but is less than half the number of films (last year there were 22).
In those ten films, there were 20 LGBTQ+ characters, a decrease from 50 in last year’s report, again, largely due to fewer films being released. Out of the 20, eleven are women and nine are men, making it the first time in the report’s history that queer women characters outnumber queer men.
The studios surveyed were Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, STX, United Artists, Universal, Disney, and Warner Bros., as well as four subsidiaries of those studios.
“We know that LGBTQ audiences are a powerful and invested audience — and a quickly growing one — as we see more and more people empowered to live their authentic lives,” Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s director of entertainment research & analysis, said in a release. “The power, passion, and growth of LGBTQ audiences proves that if studios wish to be successful in retaining and expanding fans, they must tell meaningful queer and trans stories.”
Fortunately, while the number of characters is going down, their screen time is going up. LGBTQ+ characters in eight of the 10 films that had them got more than ten minutes of screen time. In previous reports, more than half of all LGBTQ+ characters got less than three minutes of screen time.
The last time there was a trans character in a movie released by a major studio was 2016, when Benedict Cumberbatch played All, an offensive and absurd stereotype-filled character who only existed to mock nonbinary people in the movie Zoolander 2.
The year before, there was also only one trans character in a major release, and that was a gag character who existed to give the audience a laugh when her identity is revealed in the comedy Hot Pursuit. There were no trans characters the previous year in 2014.