“As a community, trans people are fighting every day to be seen and accepted as human beings,” the open letter states, explaining that a lack of representation—or negative representation—can have harmful consequences. A list of familiar and troubling statistics contextualizes the severity of the social conditions trans people face in the United States: trans people continue to be killed at alarming rates; unemployment disproportionately affects trans people, and poverty and suicide continue to plague this demographic.
Hollywood, the letter explains, plays a crucial role in changing life for transgender people across the country: “In the US, 80 percent of people say they don’t know a trans person in their family, workplace, or school. That’s where Hollywood comes in. Hollywood tells the stories that help people understand how to feel about themselves and how to feel about people around them who are different. As Roger Ebert said, film is an empathy machine.”
At times, the open letter preemptively addresses potential concerns.
This plea is unabashed and coming at “an unprecedented cultural moment.” On the heels of the #MeToo movement and following several years of trans activism within Hollywood, the open letter is pushing a crucial, socially healthy agenda that might otherwise be subsumed by the ever-changing cultural tides without direct demands for inclusion.
[The open letter is] asking Hollywood “to use its power to improve the lives of trans people by changing America’s understanding about who trans people are.”