Sebastian’s Monologue from “Two Ladies of Vermont” by Leanna Keyes

JULIA (they/he)
Are you there, God? It’s me, Julia.

So I tried. I have really, truly, tried. Trying to make this thing go away has lost me the people that I love. I’ve been low, God. And something’s gotta give.

I had a lot of time after Proteus left. I decided to go back to the book, back to your word, to see if I had missed something. Cover to cover. Maybe it’s a little silly to quote you to yourself, but, uh, here we go.

1 Samuel 16:7 – “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Okay so: If I feel something inside, then you’re looking at my heart. So if I’m feeling something so true that I can’t shut it down, maybe the problem isn’t that inside feeling. Maybe the problem is the outward appearance.

And here, in Isaiah 56:4-6: “To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, To Them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”

That had me shook, God! Why’d you bury that one so deep in Isaiah? That seems like a bigger deal to me than the stuff about the shellfish. I like the idea of having an everlasting name better than that of son or daughter. I talked with my mom, to see what my name was going to be if I’d been born a boy.


Oooh, I got chills just there, did you see that? Sebastian.

I’ve been trying to make this part of myself small for you. I thought that’s how I would hold fast to the covenant. But everything’s been going wrong the more I try to do it. Now to my understanding you have mixed feelings about sending signs, but uh. When I listen hard, I think I hear you. Trust the heart, not the outward appearance.

So I’m going to give Sebastian a try, God. I have some mistakes to atone for. I understand that you’re pretty big on atonement. Proteus… he was so patient with me. I owe him so much. It’s a miracle I’ve made it this far, and I think you might have been working through him to make that happen.

We’ll talk again soon, God. Sebastian out.

Context: This play is a queer and trans adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” set in modern-day Boston. In this monologue, Sebastian discusses their gender with God; they were raised heavily religious and finally have come to realize that they are non-binary or transmasculine. Their former boyfriend, Proteus, broke up with them because Sebastian was so clearly uncomfortable trying to be Julia, the proper Christian girlfriend. For comparison, the original Shakespeare scene is Act 2 Scene 7 in “Two Gents.”


Jamie Q., from Silence, by E.L. McElroy

JAMIE Q. (they/them)

This is how I tell her.

We are alone at the kitchen table just into a bottle of merlot. Kids are asleep. I say I have to tell you something. 

OK, she says.

I don’t know how to say this.

Just say it.

I’m trying.

Just say it.

OK, I’m trying!

We go on like that for a while, back and forth, back and forth, until finally I do. I say it. After twelve and half years of marriage, I say it.

And this what I say:

I’m not a man.


There is only silence. Almost like she was expecting it. But no tears. No yelling. No laughter. No anger. Just silence. It is the kind of silence that goes on too long.

You understand, right?

It is the kind of silence that, at first, is awkward. Then tense. Then louder than any scream.

It is the kind of silence that makes me doubt everything. That makes me think of what the priest told us about people like me. The sort of silence that makes me think about how I nodded my head up and down even though I knew better!

And this is how I tell her. This is how I tell her the person she married was someone other than the person she married, not a man, and yet still the same person, still me.

I expect her to explode, you know?

But, no, there is only silence.

Silence makes me nervous. So nervous. So I talk. That’s what I do when I am nervous. I talk. I talk to get rid of the silence.

I tell her I’m trans, OK? I’m trans. I’m trans. That is what I say.

I tell her this: I’m trans! I’m trans! I say it. Finally! I say I’m nonbinary. I say I didn’t ask to be, didn’t want to be.

If only I wasn’t, god, life would be so much easier. But, anyway, there it is, OK? I’m nonbinary. Do you even know what that means, I ask her.

I don’t wait for an answer. I tell her how it started a long time ago, before I can remember. I tell her I’ve always felt this way. I tell her I thought I was sick all those years ago. I tell her I thought that it would go away, and that maybe it did, kind of.

But, no, it did not go away, of course.

It never does, does it?

No, it doesn’t.

Believe me.

I know.

I tried.

I tell her I do not know why I am telling her this now, of all times, but that I can’t do this anymore.

I just can’t.

I can’t be someone else.


I keep talking.

I tell her I dress up and put on makeup sometimes, like when I am away on business, when it is safe.

I tell her in these moments, finally, finally, finally, … Finally!

Finally, I am at peace!

I tell her the testosterone in me is as good as poison.

I tell her it is killing me.


I tell her I don’t want to fully transition, that I am lost here, I am in the space in the in between.

But, I don’t tell her everything. Of course not.

No, I don’t tell her about the pain. No, I don’t tell her about the scars on my left arm. No, I don’t tell her about getting picked up by the cops on the railroad tracks.

No, I don’t tell her about the handcuffs pressed behind my back against the hard plastic seats in the back of a cop car.

No, I don’t tell her about the suicide attempt many years ago. And, no, I certainly do not tell her about my father.

Never that.

You understand, right?

I don’t tell her a lot of things.


She stares at the wooden chest in the living room. The door is broken. I think she thinks one of the kids did it. Another secret.

But, no, it was me.

What happened was this: there was a jumble of paperwork — household clutter: Bills EZ Pass violations, misplaced, expired gift certificates. And it all spilled out onto the floor one day. So I shoved it back inside and shut the door. But the door popped open again. So I slammed it shut much harder this time. I don’t know why, but I was furious. The door splintered and broke. Everything tumbled out.

I tell her I’m sorry. I tell her I am sorry for everything. I tell her I am sorry. But then, I think to myself, no, I’m not sure I am sorry.

I tell myself maybe I wasn’t lying all those years. I tell myself to lie is to know the truth, and that, for the life of me, I have never been able to figure.

But maybe that is a lie, too.

I don’t know.

I just know one thing.

Here I am.


Bio: E.L. is an aspiring writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. E.L. is on Twitter at @ELMcElRoy1.

Dear Woodzick #5

This may sound like an ignorant question, but how do you as a non-binary actor navigate a role that calls for a binary gender? Do you avoid those roles, or perhaps play roles against your misgender? Perhaps more roles than we realize are less gender-dependent than we think; is there room for ambiguity or simply changing a character’s perceived gender…

Dear Writer–

I LOVE that you asked this question.

Gender and casting have a complex history. To give a very abrupt and oversimplified tour of theatre history: quite simply, classical theatre as we think of it has traditionally been dominated by cisgender men for a very long time. For a long time it was illegal for anyone assigned female at birth to act onstage (unless it was in very intimate court dramas.)

An anomaly in this overview is Charlotte Cushman. Look her up. She’s absolutely amazing. In the mid-nineteenth century, she played male and female roles from Shakespeare’s cannon and was one the best paid actors of any gender during that era.

I believe that Charlotte Cushman singularly makes the case that there are some actors that intrinsically transcend the gender binary. AND that it can be a solid business practice (AKA audiences will buy tickets.)

Of course, this only happens if we trust our audiences.

More directly to your question of how I personally approach roles that call for a binary gender:

I delight in being called in for male roles. The most fun I have ever had onstage was playing Ram’s Dad in Heathers: The Musical. There was no conversation about if I would “pass” as a cisgender man. My solo brought the house down every night.

And in a way, it didn’t matter if people had read my bio in the program before they saw me perform or not. The gender of the actor portraying the character became irrelevant.

The task that Ram’s Dad sets before the actor portraying him is to transform from a toxic masculine energy to one of acceptance and preaching (albeit misguided) intolerance.

I don’t get many opportunities to audition for male roles. I would like to get more. I think there is profound work that needs to be done in the casting community to expand awareness around what non-binary and transgender actors can be called in for.

And a lot of it comes down to what a playwright crafts as the character descr4iption in the first place. I am heartened to see more and more playwrights carefully crafting their character descriptions away from the (cisgender-assumed) male/female binary.

In short: if I could only play male and non-binary roles, I probably would. But I’m still ok with playing female characters. If I have a type in the traditional sense of the word (PLEASE, let’s get rid of type!) it might be lesbian astronaut/Mariska Hartgitay. You know–the authoritative woman with short hair who dedicates more time to her job than herself? Yeah.

If I try to avoid any roles, it’s roles that I’m not right for (I will not portray transgender women or transfeminine roles–I know that they are not mine to play.)

I hope that as we move forward as an industry, we can push ourselves to deconstruct gender as a descriptor of character. For me, crafting character is all about what is elemental to inhabit this fictional being. What is their essence? And can I capture it?

I don’t know if you’ve seen the online conversations going on about Sia’s upcoming film and how it is being received by folx with Autism. I have seen some pretty dark conversations around gender and casting (Scarlett Johansen, Eddie Redmayne) but I’ve honestly never seen the vitriol quite like this before.

Sia said it was a deeply unpleasant experience to work with an actor with Autism and so she cast a neurotypical actor in the role instead. (Read more about this ongoing conversation in Mickey Rowe’s fantastic piece, “I May Be Autistic, But I’m Not a Bad Actor, No Matter What Sia Says.”)

We’ve seen this before. And we’ll likely see it again. But I feel it is relevant to pull on this thread a bit because of the significant overlap in the TGNC and Autism communities.

Speaking from my personal experience as a non-binary actor with Autism–I need to say how infuriating it is to see people in positions of power explain their thought process behind casting cisgender or neurotypical actors in roles designated as non-binary, transgender or neurodiverse.

Members of the TGNC and Autism communities often have to work SO HARD on a daily basis to appear more “normal”–for safety, for job and housing security.

If we were allowed to put our daily experience of human interaction on our acting resume, it would be a fucking encyclopedia. The casting director’s table would crumble beneath its sheer weight.

And I might be rambling now. And that’s ok. I’m angry.

I’m angry for myself and for all the other gender and neurodiverse actors who want to take up space in an industry that consistently paints us into very tight corners.

We deserve a space at the table. Our voices deserve to be heard. Loudly.


Ask your question here.

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(Image description: the Autism acceptance rainbow infinity symbol overlays the non-binary flag with its yellow, white, purple and black colors.)

Dear Woodzick #4

Could you expound on how TGNC performers are potentially impacted creatively by not being supported by production teams and cast mates?

Dear Writer–

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!




>>Ask your question here. 


She Is, Divine Surrender and End of an Era, by Daisy Du

1, She is…
She is a coal-miner and a gold-digger.
Digging treasures, just beneath the human-layers of consciousness,
through the very depth of her own past shadows;
plunging through days and nights, diligently,
until hitting some “jack-pot”,
until the loud sweet crispy “Bing”, hitting the back of her head;
breaking down the underground pitch-black stuffy soggy air,
suddenly this once a life time triumph would be
echoing and lightning up, years of seemingly endless labor-work,
by the lonesome self, with only a small meager voice within the heart.

She is a word-farmer,
Gathering and collecting full-length of life’s colors and tastes, into
a delicate handmade parchment pouch,
Weathering through many cold winters;
just for the opportune season, of
some green south-east wind, some lucky rain-drops,
and some benevolent sunbeam; to
spread out collections of full-blown inkling seeds upon the vast blank field of unknown.
She farms just for the joy of farming;
the fresh air beneath the surface soil,
the metal tool stirring up the very fine fiber of her own existence.
The work is not work; but
Cycles of life, through word-farming,
cycles of death and rebirth,
plowing within her own soul reincarnation.

She is an incubator,
taking in whatever life threw at her,
and value every drop of gifts dearly;
Like a hen gently and patiently,
brooding and pondering upon a nest of
lively and sparkling potentials…and then
wait, waiting for the
time of eternity to ferment it out,
the pristine batch of babies.
Some time, there could be some weird-looking ones to others’ judging eyes,
but to her, every single one of them is perfect,
more beautiful and precious,
than the most expensive diamond in the whole world.

She is a kite-flyer,
Flying out a high dream in the invisible thin air; to
catch the fine nerve of some spring wind.
Some time, some kites might end up being stolen away by the stormy weather;
Who knows,
maybe it could land at another heart’s sunny bay,
bringing some comforts to that gentle tender soul.
Or maybe another time, she could be the lucky one, to
catch the drifting, hauntingly beautiful,
long lost love.

But really she just calls herself a thief,
who spots and steal the most visceral moments of textured feelings,
that running through her memory pouch.
She’s a conduit, a channel, an empath, a translator, a telepathic communicator…
While all those glittering sensational lives passing through her
pulsating harboring womb,
she marks them with soft kisses,
thousand folded paper-cranes, of
heavenly blessings.

2, Divine surrender
Her love for me is bountiful…
but my fear and needs to run away from pains and sufferings of,
dense bodily reality is bottomless too..
I dreamed of a chair with a big hole in the center,
next second,
the whole world just spiraling downward…
Sadly watching me just letting go of,
the beacon of faith,
turning back against the very light of my soul,
pitching into some abysmal endless void of fearful unknown…

She took a vow many lives’ time before…
that she would follow me till the end of the world…
through lives’ multitudes of dimensions and reincarnation,
would be there for me and be with me,
would plunge through heaven and hell to comfort,
aid me, and always be by my side…

But the fear is like a chokehold, some dreadful spell of a non-reversible curse,
haunting me, through days and nights,
driven our life’s paths further and further away…

One day, while drifting through that in-between altered space,
that I visited so often in dreams,
a soft pleading voice ringing:
“Please waking up my dearest one,
Stop fighting over your own soul,
take a hold of that fear,
just lift up your head,
the key to unlock thy heart,
is right above.
Please look up,
heaven’s blessings are written both within and without,
all around your very existence,
in the blue sky, in the thin air through continuous flow,
of effortless breath…
You are the very definition of magic and beauty,
that are made with pure magnificent unconditional love…”
Honey bees diligently,
plucking and collecting—
fresh sparkles of early morning’s essence;
Unicorns stubbornly,
kicking and cracking open
some sweet rosy Nectar of—
weathered, thickened heart petals..
flower of life slowly blossoming, rippling, radiating,
iridescent sun gold…

She’s just patiently gathering and reminiscing over some good old days’ framed memories….
plunging into the vastness of a dreamy flowery garden in some wonderland,
where she and I,
could finally be like kids again,
exposed under the soft sunbeam,
with the utterly fragile, innocent and vulnerable authenticity…
quietly, she sat down next to me on a bench,
patiently waiting for my soul,
to unwind stories of eons of life-time,
Yet, all that can we hear is the sign from a long haired willow tree,
wiping off the tears and weights from the silence that follows…
A sign that we both waited for millions of years through lives’ cycling and recycling…
As soft as cotton fiber,
She laid her wings upon my solid shoulder,
we finally fell into a sweet slumber,

3, End of an era
No more fear of the long dark night,
while using the bathroom with light’s off,
Learning to spend some time with the naked self,
the most tender part of the self,
the delicate and slow part of the self…

The World are doing their pushing, rushing and hustling…
I am just here sitting with the most vulnerable part of me
within this eternal darkness…
feeling and sensing some loneliness,
and some soft meager voices.

I pleaded a license for myself,
one more chance to take a break,
to break free from this old life’s binds and shackles..
and get some ease and rest from the inside-out.

Everyone is working hard to prove something to the rest of the world,
but I just want to plunge deeply,
into this black bottomless peace,
to gather all the missing pieces
of my serrated fragmented—
long lost soul.

No more struggling or fighting off,
the endless inner fear towards this long dark night;
No more running away from this abysmal depth of life
No more silencing towards the discomfort of this long time suppression,
No more living or reliving in the eternal dread
towards some hell’s-week-like bootcamp

Tonight, I dare letting my inner voice out…
to the almighty authorities,
both visible and invisible.
To the most intimidating ones who rule this very kingdom of
unbreakable societal system..
To those who casted such unshakable shackles upon me
I dare you to look right into my heart.

I dare you to look upon the most vulnerable and tender part of myself…
the unadulterated, ulcerated inner wounds..
Which me and many weaker ones like me,
have been bearing,
for decades, inwardly,
yet were being so ashamed,
and dare not even to talk about…

No no… no more being pushed away…
as secondary, as inferior
as lack of status to be heard,
or even to deserve a voice of my own.

I dare to the rotten root of very system,
to look at the jagged line of this,
century-long painful gash inside my heart.
They are mine, yet they are yours too…
They are the weights of shame and guilt,
that your almighty hands have been trying so hard to suppress, to hide, to walk pass,
and yet eventually pressed down upon me.

No longer being silenced.
Finally I am exposing this raw tenderness,
Right in front of your eyes.
Please look at it.
just be here with me for a moment.
It’s been century long,
it’s been ignored for too long.
Today I dare speaking out this most gentle soft voice
Directed to you!

Everyone deserves to be heard and respected,
Every feeling deserves to be valued and validated…
No matter how small the voice is,
or how insignificant the life is,
to your authoritative eyes.
I dare letting all my unjustified helpless voices out,
and I dare facing the consequences as well.

Let the stormy punches coming down at me harder and stronger…
I am no longer shunning away.
I am right here waiting,
with all my silenced inner wounds from the past,
with every single tender pieces of my raw existence,
that I have been gathering…
After you have trampled upon them repetitively, and tossed them around in different parts of the world, throughout the years…

To you, me and many like me were just a joke,
Yet to me, that was the most beautiful and treasurable part of the soul,
more precious than any diamond in the whole world!

After life-time searching,
after being separated for so long,
from my tattered dignity
and fragmented soul.

The one being suppressed,
the one being trampled upon,
tossed, teased off in gazillion places.

I am here to take all my pieces back!

I challenge you,
I challenge your absolute power and biased cruel crooked system,
with my raw naked tender feeling,
and pure vulnerable authenticity.
with my everlasting tenacity,
and impenetrable perseverance.

I will swim through all the long dark nights
in eons of time,
since darn of human civilization;
I will thwart through all layers of fire in the land of the dead;
I will scour deeply and thoroughly
through all mire death fields, and
lineage of my unavenged ancestry,
to gather every single one of my fragmented soul brothers and sisters back,
to confront you with your every crime.

I am bringing back,
all our past silenced voices, to confront you
with every severed missing soul fragments, and
every single cut you have done upon each of our tender inner hearts.

We are putting down our own two feet, standing stronger than ever.
with no more trembling fears.

Hearts, are not parts!


Context: The first Monologue’s name is “She is…”. It’s about a female writer, who explores through her own inner soul-journey through word-work, and eventually finds her own role and purpose in life and in the society.

The second Monologue’s name is “Divine surrender”. It’s about a young girl’s inner struggle and fight with her own soul, through facing her own inner dark shadows, eventually reconnect with her own higher consciousness, divine feminine and higher spiritual guide.
The third Monologue’s name is “End of an Era”. Its context is about a middle-aged female of color who had been suffering from social injustice, finally able to stand up on her own feet and voice out her inner truth, power, strength, and demands for social justice.

Dear Woodzick, #3

How do I explain that I use multiple sets of pronouns (for example he/they) to folx in a rehearsal room without making myself the token explainer of all things gender/trans-related?

Dear Writer–

Thank you so much for your question!

The first thing I want to write to you is that you have every right to go through a rehearsal process without being made the “token explainer of all things gender/trans-related.”

That is so real and a point I feel is often lost in conversations about gender diversity: while many trans and non-binary actors are also educators, activists and consultants, not all of us are–AND we are all well within our rights to set boundaries about the scenarios in which we will serve in professional capacities outside the artistic one for which we have been hired. Enthusiastic consent needs to be obtained before companies assume that they’ve gotten a two-for-one deal on an actor/consultant combo.

Below are some recommendations from my three years of experience in rehearsal rooms navigating pronouns (I use they/them pronouns.)

I’d suggest approaching the stage manager and ask what policies the company has about pronouns–what systems are in place for introductions, how is misgendering handled in the rehearsal room, what is the conflict resolution path… Hopefully, the stage manager writes back quickly, with a thorough response.

If not, here are some resources that have been released in the last year to support gender diverse casting, rehearsal and performance practices. I’d recommend putting them in an email response to the SM, with text framing it along the lines of:

“Thank you for your response. In order for me to do my best work, it’s imperative that I’m only referred to he and they pronouns throughout the rehearsal process. Please forward these resources to whomever is in charge of HR and/or ED&I efforts at this company, so they can prepare accordingly for the start of our rehearsal process. I do not have the capacity to serve as a trans consultant for this production.”

One of the things I find most helpful is instilling a practice of re-introducing the room whenever new people come into it (designers, dialect coaches, etc…) I have found it most effective if the director or whomever starts the introductions leads by example thusly:

“Hi, friends. My name is Woodzick, my pronouns are they, them and theirs and I’m the director–since we have new folx in the room with us, we’re going to go around and share our names, our role(s) with this production and extend an invitation to share pronouns.”

(I use the invitation language surrounding pronouns when I facilitate after being approached by trans and non-binary folx who either 1) sincerely do not have a pronoun-preference and/or consider themselves pronoun-inclusive or 2) for a variety of reasons, did not feel comfortable/safe being mandated to share pronouns.)

I practice introducing my introduction with pronouns at home before I’m in a new room sometimes, especially if I’m feeling nervous. I want to sound confident AF during that first set of introductions. I recently played Ram’s Dad in a production of Heathers: The Musical, and my introduction went something like this (this was in a setting where there were both youth and adult performers–the directing team had asked me to frame it with a bit of context for the youth performers, which I enthusiastically consented to.)

“Hi, y’all! My name is Woodzick and I use they/them pronouns. I’m playing Ram’s Dad, and either they or he pronouns work for me during our rehearsal process. Never ever she. As actors, we are asked to be vulnerable and I can’t do my best work if my pronouns aren’t being respected.”

In my experience, I have found that the process of doing some legwork with the leadership team before you get in the room often goes a long way to create a smoother ride throughout the rehearsal process. And I also want to acknowledge that trans and non-binary performers shouldn’t have to do that legwork.

And, honestly, sometimes even doing the legwork that you shouldn’t have to do doesn’t have the desired impact. Sometimes people will offer excuses–because excuses are a lot simpler and cheaper than doing the complex work of critically examining and making meaningful changes to the culture of their institution. And in these situations, again, you get to choose how and if you will further engage with that company.

A dear friend from high school recently shared this sentiment:

“People come where we feel welcome, and stay where we feel valued.”

It is challenging for me to take up space in regards to advocating for myself as a non-binary actor. It’s a skill I’m still learning and honing. But I try to never lose sight of my goal: which is to make the theatre industry and its training programs more inclusive of gender diversity.

Because we all deserve a space where we feel welcome and valued.

As with any advice column, this is one person’s opinion–if you’re a member of the trans and/or non-binary community and would like to offer advice that differs with that given above, please post in the comments section!
Have a burning question about gender diversity and theatre?

Ask an anonymous question, and Woodzick will post their answer to this site.

>>Follow this link to ask your question. 

Dear Woodzick, #2

With costume and fashion relying largely on binary sizing and reference, ie. men’s shoe sizes, women’s bra sizes, etc., how can those of us in the costume industry be more respectful to our non-binary actors and the reality of working within the confines of a largely binary system?


Dear Writer,

Thank you so much for asking this question!

Personally, I really appreciate being able to chat one on one with a costume designer before measurements are taken. Even before coming out as non-binary, I’ve had extremely negative experiences with costumers. These experiences have ranged from costumers suggesting I go on a diet to them telling the director they didn’t know how to costume for my body type.

Regardless of body type, gender identity or expression, the actor has already earned their role by the time they get their measurements taken. Having measurements taken is a deeply vulnerable process for some performers.

I’d recommend prioritizing a private measurement-taking session with any non-binary and transgender performers and make sure that you, the director and the performer are all on the same page in terms of the gender presentation of the character they are portraying.

For instance, I’m a non-binary actor who was assigned female at birth. I am comfortable playing non-binary, male and female roles. If I’m playing a male role, I’ll likely want to use my binder, which reduces the size of my chest.

I’d recommend taking a look at the costuming form(s) and seeing if there are opportunities to update the language that’s being used. If there are different forms for men and women, question why that is the case and see what strides can be made to have one form for all performers.

Use language that acknowledges that many clothing choices are still unfortunately enmeshed in the gender binary at the start of a meeting or measurement session, and vocalize your commitment to non-binary and trans actors to create an inclusive environment in which they can voice their boundaries and preferences.

Saying something along the lines of: “Hi, X! My name is X, and my pronouns are X, Y and Z. Before we get started, I want to acknowledge that the way we talk about clothing and costume pieces is often gendered and I want to make this process an affirming one for you. Let’s look at this costume form together before I get the measuring tape out and let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to know before we start taking measurements or any notes you’d like me to add to certain fields.”

You may find that non-binary actors wear a mix of gendered clothes and they may have recommendations on brands or cuts that work well with their body. (Personally, I love wearing “men’s” blazers, henleys and button-downs and can buy them off the rack at thrift stores, but “men’s” pants are almost impossible for me to find off the rack.) Folx assigned female at birth who are portraying male roles will likely need some tailoring, depending on their body shape.

Please prioritize anyone who will be touching the body of a non-binary or trans actor having an excellent command of pronouns. It is absolutely awful to have someone taking measurements of your body while misgendering you. (Personally, nothing shuts me down more in a creative process than getting misgendered: anxiety attacks, panic attacks and dissociating can occur.)

Also, check-in with non-binary and trans performers about dressing room assignments and where they want to be placed. There’s a fantastic piece up HowlRound titled “Beyond the Bathrooms: Cultivating Meaningful Trans Inclusion in Theatrical Spaces,” written by John Meredith and Sloth Levine.

“Ensure there are literal physical places in your buildings where trans people feel safe. Before stage managers and wardrobe assume to partition actors into binary dressing rooms (men and women), ask the actors where they would feel comfortable doing costume changes. These conversations should happen well before tech. As a general rule, private options for changing areas should always be available. When in doubt, choose the option that allows actors—trans or otherwise—agency over their bodies. It is important that they feel safe in these spaces in order to produce their best work.”

I think one of the most helpful things you can do as a costume designer is to familiarize yourself with the concept of dysphoria. (Here’s a piece by Teen Vogue were trans and non-binary folx speak about their experiences with dysphoria in their own words: Not all trans or non-binary folx experience dysphoria, but many do to some extent.

One of the most powerful things costume designers can do is to contribute to a sense of gender euphoria in the performers they are costuming. And each performer will be different. Long story short? Don’t make assumptions, ask questions, empower non-binary and trans performers to tell you what they need to look and feel their best.

And, at the end of the day: clothes aren’t gendered. Folx should get to wear whatever the heck fits them and contributes to a sense of gender euphoria, regardless of the label sewn into it.


As with any advice column, this is one person’s opinion–if you’d like to offer advice that differs with that given above, please post in the comments section!


Have a burning question about gender diversity and theatre?

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Erica, from Generation Red, by Alexander Utz


Okay. Okay. Fine.

I imagine — that being at a school dance must be so different from what you see in movies. I imagine that it’s really confusing, and there would be a lot going on, but it would be fun, maybe? It would be a good time, I think, with all the music and lights and all your friends there dancing. I imagine I’d want to get it right, I’d want to do everything right, but I have no idea what that would mean.

I imagine driving at night through a familiar neighborhood. I imagine it must be comforting to see everyone’s individual houses and to see all the lights on. It must be like each one has its own personality, just like the people inside.

I imagine being outside late at night must be special, I imagine it to be quiet and peaceful and freeing. Do you ever think of what the night sky must look like from Earth? I can picture the moon up there, bright and clean and close. I’m so used to seeing it there in movies, this big benign dot in the night sky. It’s comforting, in a way. I don’t know.


Erica, Alan, Denver, and Trish are the first people to be born on Mars. They are waiting to find out the results of “The Test,” which determines the type of work they’ll be doing as adults on the compound. To pass the time while they wait, they play a game creating scenes that imagine what life on Earth would be like, based on the best representation of Earth they know: movies.

This monologue comes after Erica has chosen to act out a homecoming dance scenario inspired by the films of John Hughes.

(Note from Woodzick: all of the character descriptions in the script are open to non-binary portrayals.) 

Learn more at

Dear Woodzick, #1

As a newly out non-binary artist who is still figuring out how to navigate spaces that I’m not sure are safe, how do you gauge that and what can theaters do to communicate that they are safe places for TGNC theatre artists to work and be out in? Also, how do you overcome fear of professional consequences for correcting people who misgender you or otherwise disrespect your identity? I’m young and sometimes fear that being assertive about my identity will lead artists I work with to label me as “difficult” and it feels like a hard line to walk.

Dear Writer,

First of all—THANK YOU for your question. There are so many trans and non-binary theatre artists who are in precisely the same spot as you are at the moment. So know that you are in fantastic company and there is a thriving community of artists who are navigating these very same questions in our industry.

Second, I am so proud of you for coming out and please know, that even though I haven’t met you, I love you. My hope is that you have the smoothest of paths and find nothing but supportive theatres that will offer you affirming theatrical experiences.

Those things being said, I’ll say that over all (in my experience), folx who work in the theatre industry (and its training programs) are at different levels of awareness and aptitude when it comes to supporting trans and non-binary theatre artists. I work primarily as an actor and a director, and what I offer below are some of my personal experiences and suggestions for ways to navigate this industry.

But before you read them, dear writer, I want you to know regardless of your theatrical discipline(s), you should always advocate for what you need to do your best work. Sometimes will feel easier than others. The fear of “being difficult” will pop up at the most inconvenient times. There will be those who say that they need more time, that they are trying, but they may screw up, that you will need to be patient with them—and STILL: you should always advocate for what you need to do your best work.

Nico Lang is one of my favorite journalists, and he recently wrote a piece about Jacob Lemay, a nine-year old trans boy who asked a question at CNN’s LGBTQ+ Town Hall. At the end of his question, he asked,

“And what do you think schools need to do better to make sure that I don’t have to worry about anything but my homework?”

That question STUCK with me, because every time I feel that “oh, shoot, I might be acting ‘too difficult’ in this moment!’” another voice from within brings up the point that

I deserve to have the same experience as any other actor in the cast.

Each theatre you encounter will have its own approach (or lack thereof) to approaching their equity, diversity and inclusion goals as they relate to gender diversity.

If you’re considering working with a theatre, one of the first things I’d recommend is looking at their “about us” section on their website. This should be where they list some version of their mission, vision and values. Check it out. Take notes—especially on any sections that talk about ED&I in any fashion. Also consider checking out the staff bios. Do folx list their pronouns? Does anyone list LGBTQ+ theatre or audiences as something that they have worked with and/or have a passion for cultivating?

Lack of any of these things isn’t necessarily a deterrent for me, but it gives me a bit of a sense of who might be in the room or making administrative or HR decisions/policy at the company.

Next, as an actor, I’ll look at the character descriptions and/or diversity statement on their audition notices. If all of the characters are listed as only male and female and there is no statement saying “we welcome (or are actively seeking) actors of all genders,” I know that (for me personally), I’m likely going to take the extra step of reaching out the director for the specific project for which I’m submitting.

(Also, dear writer, please know that each year, I see more and more companies using this “all genders” language. I think it’s wonderful and soon hope it becomes standard across the industry.)

Here’s an example of one such email that I sent earlier this year:

My name is Woodzick and I’m a non-binary actor (assigned female at birth.) I just signed up for an audition slot for Addams Family–I’ve attached three different photos of different characters I’ve portrayed to give you a visual representation of the range of genders I can portray.

I previously played Alice in this show and love it very much! I’ve also attached my current acting resume–could you give me some guidance as to how you’d like me to dress coming into the audition (what would be most useful for your eye.)

I’m most interested in being considered for Morticia, Gomez and Fester.

Kind of an odd question, but I’d love to have your input–thanks! 🙂



Woodzick- good afternoon! Thanks for reaching out. I really appreciate it.

You pose an excellent question. Since you are interested in both male and female roles, I would suggest you show up in whatever makes you feel like the powerful and authentic actor that I think you probably are. And should there be a need to see you at callbacks, we can discuss more about what role(s) you are called back for and what we might want to see at that time.

Thanks again, and let me know if you have any questions.


I love the way that this email was answered!
Looking back at MY email, though, I see all of my insecurities coming through in the passive language I used to craft it.

Here’s how I would edit it to read as more assertive and general template (and please feel free to use/edit this template as you see fit.)


Hi, X–

My name is Woodzick and I’m a non-binary actor. I just signed up for/am interested in submitting for X production.

I’ve also attached my current acting resume—as I play roles of all genders, I am requesting guidance as to how you’d like me to dress coming into the audition (what would be most useful for your eye.)

I’m most interested in being considered for the following roles: X, X, X

I look forward to hearing from you.



It’s not perfect-and I’m sure there are folx who would completely rewrite this email. But just by writing it and having a moment of connection with a director before coming into an audition, I feel like I’m giving them a head start to have a discussion about trans and non-binary talent and how they envision possibly casting that talent in a show. It’s a question they may not have been asked before. Personally, it makes me feel a little safer, though it may just be a placebo effect.

I list my pronouns on my acting resume in a font that’s the same size as my name, directly underneath it (so they can’t miss it.) I’ve also adopted a practice that my dear friend Kathryn Lynn Morgen ( recommended, which is to clearly state the roles for which I’d like to be considered. This currently lives on my resume as “Open to playing male, female and non-binary roles.” I also choose to break out my resume into three sections: Male, Non-Binary and Female.

If I get to an audition and the form only has a binary male/female option, I will cross it out and write in “non-binary.” If there is not a spot to list my pronouns, I will create a spot and write my pronouns. (And if there IS a spot for pronouns on the form, my expectation is that there will be an invitation for folx who are comfortable to share their pronouns when introductions occur, and that whoever LEADS the introduction will model this during their introduction.)

If I am offered and accept a role in a production, one of the first things I do is reach out to the stage manager and ask them how misgendering will be handled in the rehearsal room. Through years of trial and error, I have found that the most effective way to curtail misgendering is having a stage manager call a “hold” (as you would do for any other actor’s safety), assertively make the correction and move the rehearsal right along.

You may run into situations where (for whatever reason) it isn’t possible for the SM to fulfill this role. If this is the case, once I get to know my cast mates, I’ll ask one of them who seems particularly pronoun savvy to be my pronoun ally/proctor/protector human. Again, it’s not a perfect situation, but I’ve found that when the correction of misgendering expands from a two-point line to a three-point triangle, it becomes far less likely for misgendering to continue.

When it comes to dressing rooms, I’ve been lucky enough to work with theatres so far that have actors self-select which dressing room they feel more comfortable changing in. I know this isn’t always the case—again, I would recommend leaning on the stage management team here to communicate what your preference is.

(Most of the time) I enjoy having conversations with theatres about their practices in supporting gender diversity, but not everyone does. (In my opinion) you don’t need to answer questions that 1) you feel uncomfortable answering and/or 2) are outside the scope of the tasks expected of your fellow cast members/you feel that the theatre should pay a trans or non-binary consultant for your/their emotional and intellectual labor to answer. I’ve found (and have heard from some of my peers) that some theatres will assume that by casting you, they can consider you an unofficial consultant—-again, in my opinion, that is a boundary that only you can set, according to your comfort levels.

To finish out the life-span of a production:

-I take note of who is in charge of publicity/social media for the show in case misgendering occurs in print pieces about the production. If it does, I send a swift request for the PR person to address it.

-I take advantage of post-mortem conversations (either in person or in writing) to offer my feedback of what they may want to consider in future when it comes to trans and non-binary talent.
To address the second part of your question more specifically, the “how do you overcome fear of professional consequences for correcting people who misgender you or otherwise disrespect your identity” part of the question.

I don’t know if I’ve honestly overcome it…


I have found that feeling the fear and attempting to address these issues anyway has resulted in building more professional connections than burning them. I have seen changes that theatres have made first hand because I or one of my trans or non-binary peers has been offered a place at the table. I see former castmates build more inclusive spaces as directors and teaching artists. I see more and more trans and non-binary talent being cast each year.


most importantly,

I go back to:
I deserve to have the same experience as any other actor in the cast.

I shouldn’t have to worry about anything other than my homework.


As with any advice column, this is one person’s opinion–if you’d like to offer advice that differs with that given above, please post in the comments section!


Have a burning question about gender diversity and theatre?

Ask an anonymous question, and Woodzick will post their answer to this site.

>>Follow this link to ask your question.