How Cisgender Performers Can Be Allies to the Trans* Community

  • Izabella Mirza

It’s Pride Month, one of the best times of the year! Tony nominations are out, summer stocks have begun their seasons, and Broadway is covered in rainbows. There is an air of celebration, excitement, and hope for the future- it’s contagious. Pride month is a generally really fun time for all queer people, but it’s thanks to the trans* community that Pride even started. So, in the spirit of Pride and looking at ways to support the community, below are ways that cisgender theatre-makers can be allies to the trans* community this month!

1.    Share your pronouns on your audition materials, websites, and other publicity material: This is a super easy way to be an ally. Cisgender people have the opportunity to help set a safer more inclusive tone without facing backlash or potential risk. This is a huge privilege, and should be taken advantage of. Placing your pronouns below your name on your resume/headshots help normalize the practice of doing so, and is a very easy addition to make. While you’re at it, add them to your website or business cards. Encourage other cis theatre-makers to do the same!

2.    Take the time to read some of the amazing scripts that tell trans* stories:  Southern Comfort by Julianne Wick Davis and Dan Collins, Hir by Taylor Mac, and Trans Scripts by Paul Lucas are just a few popular titles to begin with. There are many others you can find online, and you can reach out to fellow theatre lovers, writers, Facebook groups, and friends to find other suggestions!

3.    Buy a trans* theatre-maker you know a cup of coffee: Take the time to get to know      the stories of the trans* theatre-makers you work with- if they want to share. If not, bring them a coffee on a day you stop for yourself, after all fighting the gender binary in America is exhausting!

4.    Help advocate for the sharing of more trans* stories onstage: Donate to GoFundMe’s dedicated to theatre telling trans* stories, go see a show that you know advocates for the trans* community, bring a trans* story to the stage if you’re in a position to, and even ask your friends to help advocate! If you’re in a position to decide on a theatre’s season, or make a suggestion, add a show that tells a trans* story. If their season is already set, you can always inquire about a reading! You could also open up time and space for trans* storytellers to share or workshop their new shows for the community or a smaller pool of theatre lovers!

5.    If you’re in a position to make a casting decision, advocate for trans* performers to take on cis roles: People are always talking about who can and can’t take on roles when it comes to queer stories and performers. This often leaves queer people on the back burner when telling “straight” stories, but that doesn’t need to be the case, and it’s even harder for the trans* community to get cast. Trans* performers can absolutely portray straight or cisgender characters, and they deserve the same opportunities as cisgender performers to do so. The beauty about performing is that you take on an entirely different character, it doesn’t matter the performer’s gender identity.

6.    Add gender-free dressing spaces to your theatres: Dressing rooms, like locker rooms, can cause tension and anxiety even in open spaces such as theatre. If your theatre does not already use gender free dressing rooms, advocate for a space to be added for more comfort. People of any gender identity can use the space, and having an option outside the typical “male” and “female” dressing options, can create a more welcoming environment and less stressful backstage environment.

Being an ally is easy, and there’s no better time to start than now. Look at how your local theatres are inclusive of the trans* community already, where they can do better, and what changes can begin to be made for an even safer environment.