Amazon Studios' Transparent has been hailed as groundbreaking for trans representation in television, yet many have questioned creator Jill Soloway's decision to cast a cisgender (non-trans) male actor, Jeffrey Tambor, as the show's transgender female lead Maura.
Now that Transparent has been renewed for a second season, Soloway may not be able to change the cast, but she's vowed to make changes in the show's writing staff: She intends to hire and "train" a trans woman as a TV writer, reports the Guardian.
At a New Yorker festival panel on Saturday, Soloway explained that she's been unable to find a television writer who is also a trans woman, so she and Transparent's staff will now "actually … be helping make trans women TV writers by teaching them how to write."
Currently, Soloway and her writing team are accepting short stories written by trans women, and will select five with whom to develop a sample script, notes the Guardian. One woman will be chosen to remain a Transparent writer, while the other four, Soloway explains, will have made some industry connections and will leave with a script to shop around.
One of the show's main writers, Ali Liebegott, is a queer, masculine gender-nonconforming fiction writer who similarly had no prior experience writing for television before joining the Transparent crew. Soloway was vocal about implementing what she calls a "transfirmative action program," employing several trans actors, including Alexandra Billings, Ian Harvie, Trace Lysette, and D'Lo in secondary roles, trans artists Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst as associate producers, and other trans people at "different layers of production."
But for a show centered on a trans woman, Soloway says she needs to ensure a trans woman is part of its writing. "It's absolutely necessary," she explained to the panel audience. "And it's gonna change the show."
"No matter what we did, we were always going to be otherizing Maura in some way," Soloway continued. "And in the same way where I couldn't want a man to say, 'I can have a writers' room full of men and we can write women just fine,' I can't say that I can create a show about a trans woman and not have a trans woman writing for me."