Could you expound on how TGNC performers are potentially impacted creatively by not being supported by production teams and cast mates?
Thank you for this question.
Acting requires profound vulnerability. In my experience, the ability to access vulnerability is dependent largely on having some level of trust for the other people in the room.
Personally, as a TGNC actor, it is extremely difficult for me to trust others if they are unable/unwilling to use my correct name and pronouns. If my artistic collaborators don’t accept me for who I say I am on the first day, (“Hi, I’m Woodzick, and I use they/them pronouns.” ) it follows that I don’t have confidence in their ability to trust my creative choices (and I will likely find obstacles in trusting them as well.)
As a theatre artist, I want everyone to feel empowered to bring their whole selves into the room.
It becomes almost impossible to bring your whole self into a room and create your best work if you are constantly dealing with ambassador fatigue and hypervigilance. These are two of the greatest impediments I have experienced from unsupportive theatrical environments.
Ambassador fatigue is the experience of someone from a marginalized group is put in the position of having to teach others about the experiences of that marginalized group. So, if I show up the first day of rehearsal and leadership isn’t sharing their pronouns in their introductions–I may be the first person to use both my name and pronouns in my introduction. This then singles me out as having done something different, which folx may come and ask me about later. It creates a complicated situation in which I am simultaneously advocating for my whole self to be in the room while also trying to just be in the room. It can become an exhausting duality.
Hypervigilance is a symptom sometimes associated with PTSD or anxiety diagnoses. It means you are hyper-vigalant–or, put another way, extremely aware of your surroundings at all times. If there is not enough support or infrastructure put into creating an inclusive rehearsal room for TGNC talent, TGNC actors may experience hypervigilance.
My inner monologue while feeling hypervigilant might look something like this: “Is that person going to misgender me again? What am I going to do if that happens? I already talked to the stage manager about this and she said that the director will say something if it happens again, but what if he forgets? Ugh. I just want to focus on the damn scene. But if I just focus on the scene and don’t acknowledge being misgendered, maybe other people won’t think it’s important anymore. GRRRRRRRRRR.”
I’d rather be running lines in my head and centering myself so that I can better inhabit and create my character.
So…those are the two things I’ll offer in response to your question. But I’d love to hear the perspectives of other TGNC actors in the comments below!