In the past couple of years, thankfully, we’ve started to see more and more theatre that either includes trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming performers or features their stories. Personally, as someone who has many friends who identify as such, I love that we’re moving in this direction.
Sadly however, not everyone is so supportive. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen multiple critics not only misgender these performers but refuse to correct their reviews once their identity is pointed out. Even worse, some critics are blatantly ignoring performer or character pronouns and just deciding their gender on their own. This needs to stop.
While I certainly hope these critics become more educated on this subject, there are some things that theatres can do to help the process. The first would be listing a performer’s preferred pronouns with their bios in the press materials.
Last year, we published a review where one of our critics referred to a performer as she/her. Later, I received an email from the performer who told me their correct pronouns and we corrected it to them/they. However, looking back at the press materials given to us, there was no indication of the preferred pronouns of the performer.
Very rarely do I see preferred pronouns listed next to bios or included in press materials/programs. If they were, this would definitely clear a lot of these misgendering issues up and not leave critics up to guess or judge what someone’s gender identity might be.
However, if a critic refuses or ignores preferred pronouns(like Tuscon’s Chuck Graham), that’s an entirely different issue and that person shouldn’t be given the privilege of critiquing a productions.
We’re living in an era where it’s more important to be conscious towards someone’s gender identity, it’s something that I take very personally. And because of this, more information is needed. Theatre companies can help and protect their performers by listing perferred pronouns in bios/programs/press materials.