Actors’ Equity Association Condemns Attacks on Transgender People

New York -- Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has issued the following statement regarding the growing number of attacks on transgender people, often framed as attacks on drag performance:

“We are witnessing not just attacks on expression but attacks on existence. The recent rise in legislation limiting gender-affirming health care, as well as the increase in both physical and legal threats to drag performances, must be named for what they are: a coordinated attack that seeks to eradicate transgender people. To be clear: transgender people are not living their lives in drag; they are living their lives authentically. The purposeful conflation of drag performance and transgender life is the latest tactic in a sickening campaign to delegitimize and dehumanize transgender people. This is abhorrent.

“Some of this legislation additionally places dangerous limitations on theatrical performances that surely runs afoul of our First Amendment rights as artists. When the right to free speech and expression is curtailed for some, we are all at risk. Nothing is more American than the First Amendment, and we must defend our right to free expression as well.

“As a union of performing artists, we push hard at the bargaining table for better workplace protections for our members. Sadly, the moral panics inflamed by the people pushing an anti-trans agenda means that in addition to pushing for contract provisions like safe dressing rooms for transgender actors and gender-inclusive auditions, we must advocate for emergency action plans to protect our members in the event of violence.

“Our concern for the safety of theatre workers and audience members is genuine, but our concern extends beyond the theatre walls. We see how attacks on performers are connected to the larger effort to strip transgender people of their constitutional rights, and we denounce it wholeheartedly. We stand with our transgender members and with all transgender people and call for an end to attacks – physical, legislative and otherwise.”

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. #EquityWorks  

January 27, 2023