Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst, who are two of Hollywood’s biggest trans content creators, served as guest editors for OUT magazine’s “Hollywood Trans Formation” issue. They’re the minds behind Amazon’s Transparent and web series, This Is Me.
The two trailblazers handpicked a group of trans activists and allies that are featured in the issue. The curated list showcases the building blocks of a movement – one in which trans people are not only represented on screen, but also contribute as authors, creators, and craftspeople behind the scenes in what are arguably the largest vehicles of human empathy: film and television.
Below are just some of those highlighted in the issue.
“People have been so accepting, and my transition has certainly not been normal by any means,” says Jenner, the star of I Am Cait. As the highest-profile person ever to transition in the public eye, Jenner is adamant that her journey is unique, and that she’s not a spokesperson for all trans women. “I’m very blessed,” she says. “It’s been extraordinarily rewarding, just to wake up in the morning and be yourself and have people be accepting of that.”
Candis Cayne (Actress)
Cayne made history on ABC’s 2007 series Dirty Sexy Money as the first transgender actress to play a recurring trans character in prime time. But being a trailblazer can take a personal toll, and on I Am Cait Cayne was able to open up to Caitlyn Jenner—and show the flip side to her glamorous, proud persona. “I had to represent our community. There couldn’t be a loose brick in this wall!” she says. “So it was cathartic for me to talk about the problems I’ve had being in this industry and the misogyny in our gay community against trans women.”
Laverne Cox (Actress)
There’s been a lot of press about Cox’s pioneering accomplishments for the trans community over the past couple years. “It’s very tricky, those conversations about the first, because they tend to erase people who’ve come before,” Cox says. “There are people who maybe weren’t able to be out, who were making strides that we may not even know about. It shows us how far we need to come that we’re just getting around to understanding that trans folks have talent, or are able to step into these roles on screen or on stage.”
Alexandra Billings (Actress)
Billings, who plays Davina on Amazon’s Transparent, offers much needed direction and empathy to Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), as well as guidance to many of the show’s viewers. “[Being trans in Hollywood] means that there’s hope for us, and there’s hope for the marginalized,” says Billings. “It’s less about trying to make money and more about trying to be compassionate and get along with each other and be kind.”
Geena Rocero (Model, Producer)
Rocero remembers her 2014 TED Talk about coming out as trans, a video which has garnered more than 3 million views on YouTube. “It took me a long time to get to that moment to finally share my journey, my culture, and get rid of internalized shame and heal myself,” she says. “Now I get to explore my full self with all the gifts that I share with the world.” Since the talk, Rocero has launched Gender Proud, an awareness campaign and media company that focuses on telling stories about what it means to be trans and gender-nonconforming.
Whoopi Goldberg (Executive Producer, Strut)
“Transgender people have been with us forever,” says Goldberg. “Not just recently. Not just on television. But in real life.” Goldberg is one of the executive producers of the new Oxygen series Strut, which follows five models from the world’s first exclusively transgender modeling agency, Slay Model Management.
Jill Soloway (Writer, Director)
The creative voice behind Amazon’s hit series Transparent, a show that has been revolutionary in terms of trans representation and trans hiring practices both in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood.
Mya Taylor (Actress)
After rising to fame in the indie hit Tangerine, Taylor has not let opportunity pass her by. Yet Taylor knows the road is never easy. Her experience as a sex worker was a direct consequence of the discrimination she faced looking for employment. “I had applied for 186 jobs in one month, and at the time I wasn’t doing great with money,” she recalled in an interview with OUT last year. “I had gotten a jaywalking ticket, and the state wouldn’t let me get my name changed legally until that was paid. So, whenever I applied for a job, they’d see a male name that didn’t match up with what I looked like. Translate that to the street with those other girls. They’ve tried to get jobs—they’ve really, really tried. So they resort to sex work, because it’s fast, and it’s easy money.”
To learn who else made the list, head over to OUT.comcai.