Transgender performers face numerous challenges in mainstream musical theatre, from limited representation to biased and discriminatory attitudes. These challenges can prevent trans performers from pursuing their passion and achieving success in their careers.
One of the biggest challenges faced by trans performers is the lack of representation in mainstream musical theatre. There are limited opportunities for trans performers to showcase their talents, and they are often not given equal representation on stage. This lack of representation can lead to feelings of invisibility and marginalisation, and can make it difficult for trans performers to build their careers.
In addition to a lack of representation, trans performers often face inaccurate and stereotypical portrayals of trans characters. These portrayals can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to negative attitudes toward the trans community. Trans performers may also feel frustrated by the lack of authenticity in these portrayals, as they are not accurately reflecting the lived experiences of trans people.
Bias and discrimination are also major challenges faced by trans performers in musical theatre. Trans performers may encounter casting directors, producers, and other industry professionals who hold biased attitudes or beliefs about the trans community. This can prevent trans performers from being cast in the roles they desire, and can limit their career opportunities.
Another challenge faced by trans performers is the lack of inclusiveness in recognition events, such as awards shows. Many awards shows have gendered categories, which can make it difficult for trans performers to be recognised for their work. This lack of inclusiveness can further marginalise trans performers and prevent them from being acknowledged for their achievements.
Justin David Sullivan, a trans non-binary performer playing the role of May in &Juliet on Broadway, has declined Tony Awards consideration because of gendered categories, according to the New York Times. Sullivan could have been nominated for a featured performer in a musical, but decided to forgo the Tony Awards to encourage greater inclusiveness. Other awards shows, such as the Outer Critics Circle and Obie Awards, already have non-gendered categories. Sullivan hopes that his decision will inspire other award shows to recognise and honour performers of all gender identities. The Tony Awards Production has acknowledged the lack of inclusiveness in the current acting categories and is considering changes for future seasons to ensure everyone is included, regardless of gender identity.
The musical &Juliet is currently running on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. It presents a new take on the classic story by imagining a future in which Juliet lives on and follows her heart. The play features upbeat pop hits composed by Max Martin and others, including “Since U Been Gone,” “Roar,” “Baby One More Time,” and others. & Juliet first debuted in Manchester in 2019 and later made its way to London’s West End, where it received three Olivier Awards. Following successful runs in Toronto, it finally made its Broadway debut. An Australian premiere is scheduled for February 2023 in Melbourne.