Trans rights groups fight for Hollywood funding after Dave Chapelle controversy – The Hollywood Reporter
Every year, Hollywood donates millions to LGBTQ organizations, partnering with GLAAD, HRC, The Trevor Project and The Point Foundation for star-studded galas as stars sit on their boards or serve on host committees. But it’s the ‘T’ that seems to have gotten less financial commitment than the rest of the acronym, as transgender organizations report mixed support from the industry – even though Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comments in his recent special Netflix shed new light on the problems. many trans people still face it.
“We’re seeing a lot more attention from Hollywood regarding trans characters and the cast of trans actors. We have yet to see this filter in donations to trans-specific organizations, which we are aware of, ”says National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen.
He says the under-representation of trans-specific groups in giving is a trend across the country, not just in Hollywood, and is magnified by the industry’s long-standing ties with specific LGBTQ umbrella organizations. “There is naturally, I think, this reaction of ‘We’re going to give to those we already know,'” says Heng-Lehtinen. “But that leaves out those that are specific to trans. It refers to grassroots organizations with in-depth knowledge of how best to support the community.
GLAAD, one of Hollywood’s beloved bands, has strived to create a transfocused department in its Transgender Media Program. Led by transgender man Nick Adams, the program consults with Disney, WarnerMedia, Amazon, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and NBCUniversal on its transgender inclusion and portrayal on TV and film, as well as media literacy training – this year, a consultation on the Apple TV + interview between Oprah Winfrey and Elliot Page. And even for a group with so much influence, it takes more support. “We need more staff who can handle requests for transgender representation consultancy work. The number of requests received is overwhelming, ”Adams says, as portrayals of trans characters increase onscreen.
The Chappelle special came amid a wave of anti-trans legislation in the United States that hit a record this year. And the annual of Transgender Europe Trans Murder Watch Report, released on November 11, counts 2021 as the deadliest year on record for trans and gender diverse people, with 375 murders recorded worldwide, a 7% increase from 2020.
“The trans community is in great need of philanthropic support, and I hope media companies will extend their support across various platforms to effect change in various ways,” Adams said.
Hollywood’s approach to supporting the trans community, however, often focuses on on-screen and behind-the-camera portrayal for writers, directors, and producers. But Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, says telling trans stories isn’t enough.
“In order for us to change attitudes and policies, it is imperative that Hollywood offers its resources and influence to transgender people on the front lines of social change,” said Hayashi. “Very often the entertainment industry has an extractive relationship with marginalized groups. To rectify this, the industry should regularly commit funds and opportunities to these groups, especially organizations led by trans people. “
And there are many – TransLatin @ Coalition, Trans wellness center, Familia: Trans homosexual liberation movement, The Okra project and The Frances Thompson Educational Foundation are all cross-focused groups, as is the case TranSanta, Indya Moore’s Participatory Giving Project for Trans Youth, supported by Ariana Grande and Scooter Braun’s SB projects. According to Shauna Nep, vice president of philanthropy at SB Projects, “given the legislation that has been introduced – and in some cases passed – this year, it is more important than ever that we devote resources to protecting lives. trans. We are fortunate to work with organizations and activists who help us make a difference both in terms of policy and legislation, but also who help us impact the lives of trans people and send the message that you are loved and supported. (Earlier this year, SB Projects client Demi Lovato partnered with Henry Masks to create a collection of limited-edition personalized masks with a portion of the proceeds benefiting The Center for the Health and Development of Transjuveniles at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.)
In addition to quietly writing a check, Heng-Lehtinen underlines the value of celebrities using their platforms to support the community, with “much more reach than any nonprofit,” noting how much the cultural conversations on transgender people have a direct impact on giving. “When something anti-trans happens in pop culture, individual donations to trans groups soar,” he says, citing JK Rowling’s anti-trans tweets. “It shows that people care.”
Trans actor and consultant Scott Turner Schofield, who helped on HBO Euphoria, says cause and effect is exactly part of the problem: “While I appreciate the increased support from trans rights organizations, it is also disappointing that Hollywood seems more inclined to donate to trans organizations. to invest in the trans community. when there has been damage rather than making coherent and proactive alliances, ”he says. While people may rush to support trans groups in the wake of high-profile attacks by public figures, donations often decline, at least until the next incident.
“We’re getting more popular in a way; we are more and more accepted, but we are also more attacked because the spotlight is on us, ”explains Heng-Lehtinen. “For Hollywood to put the spotlight on our issues in a strong way, and even take it a step further and say, ‘We’re going to invest and we’re going to support trans people and we encourage you to do that too,’ he sends a signal. really powerful. It’s important financially, but it’s also very important culturally.
This story first appeared in the November 22 issue of Hollywood journalist magazine. Click here to subscribe.