On Saturday afternoon, Outfest attendees gathered on Sunset Boulevard’s Directors Guild of America for the festival’s fifth annual Trans & Nonbinary Summit.
Following a week of film screenings, premieres and events, the summit featured multiple programs including a panel — “Post-Pose: The Future of Trans and Nonbinary Storytelling” — followed by a screening of shorts by emerging trans filmmakers and a table read premiere of Razor Tongue season two. The afternoon opened with a keynote address by trans activist and filmmaker Tourmaline.
“The future is happening. It is limitless,” Transparent producer Zackary Drucker said. “I think that the trans and nonbinary community have tools to offer everybody — tools for survival, tools for self actualization that are invaluable. Our stories are universal. They’re not at all niche.”
Moderated by LGBTQ activist and actor-producer Jacob Tobia, the panel featured a discussion between fellow activists and industry players of the trans community including Drucker, Pose writer Our Lady J, comedian D’Lo and filmmaker-actor River Gallo.
“We don’t have enough opportunities for us to gather on our own terms,” Tobia said of the summit. “We’re not having these conversations to educate cis people, we’re not having these conversations to impress some cis person to give us money for our TV show. We’re having this conversation because we need a space in which we can talk about where are we at within this industry. It gives us a space to be a little more safely critical.”
As for the focus of the panel, Tobia emphasized an excitement for the next stage of trans visibility in Hollywood, in which there is “no such thing as ‘the trans show.’”
“The next frontier is really moving from singularity to plurality of storytelling,” they said. “I’m ready for a network to have a trans executive. I don’t know who’s gonna do that, but one of us is gonna have to step up and make it happen.”
Summit panelist and intersex activist River Gallo agreed.
“I honestly believe the next phase is to move past the stories of transition and coming out, and to really see what our identities are like without trauma,” Gallo said. “I want to see a trans superhero. I want to see a trans person in a Marvel movie. I want to see trans, nonbinary, intersex people in a rom-com… I think executives in studios, casting directors, agencies — they just need to take that risk.”
The theme of this year’s summit was “commUNITY,” a sentiment that was certainly shared amongst attendees. In curating the events, summit programmer Kieran Medina centered the panel conversation around the future of the trans movement.
“Pose showed the industry that our stories matter and people care and they want to watch them,” Medina said. “People do care about trans people. We want to honor [Pose’s] legacy and what they were able to accomplish, but now that we have that, how do we take that momentum and continue to push forward?”
Going into this year’s festival, Outfest executive director Damien Navarro wanted to ensure that the Summit — along with the festival at large — remained a safe space for trans and nonbinary members of the queer community.
“We are encouraging them to come to the forefront, so that we can get behind them in ways that we have never been able to,” Navarro said. “What I’d like to say to the [trans and nonbinary] community is that we’re listening. We’re not waiting for you to tell us what to do, we know what to do. But now we have to actually do it.”