Co-director of Transparent speaks at Southern Comfort Conference

By now, most are more than familiar with the show “Transparent.” And if you’re not, you should be.

Created by Jill Soloway for Amazon, actor Jeffrey Tambor has won a Golden Globe for his work in the lead role. The comedy-drama follows Tambor's character and the lives of his three grown children as he transitions from Mort to Maura.

Speaking at the Southern Comfort Conference after attendees viewed the first two episodes, co-director of Transparent Zackary Drucker shared with conference members just how involved the production team was in being as inclusive as possible.

Much of that reflected on the production team’s own lives, yet none more so than the show’s writer Jill Soloway, whose father came out as transgender.

“Dealing with comedy, it’s sort of difficult to portray the reality of our own lives,” Drucker said, referencing the storyline that still managed to be accurate while winning five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes.

“We spent a lot of time with the original trans parent,” Drucker shared. “But she’s really stayed out of the limelight.”

During the production of Transparent, Drucker spoke about the inclusiveness that has become mandatory for the show’s production to go on.

“We hire as many trans people as possible,” she said, referencing a staff and cast ripe with dozens of transgender individuals. “Our goal is to have as many trans people as possible involved in our own stories.”

The importance of accurately portraying the life and transition of a trans woman is critical for the transgender movement, as much of society has yet to meet a trans person who is out.

Much of what the show’s producers are aware of is the prospective audience, most of whom are cisgender.

“It’s always going to be this ‘othering’ perspective,” Drucker said, referring to those who view the show without any prior experience with the transgender community. “So we do our best to make it authentic.”

One aspect of the community that the show has aimed to achieve is the diversity of the community.

“I believe our community is the most diverse in the world,” Drucker said. “There’s no commonality, we all have different stories.”

As guests of her seminar were allowed to speak, one attendee questioned the ethics of casting a non-trans actor for a transgender role. Drucker was more than happy to put it in perspective.

“It’s been interesting to see the arc of conversation about cis playing trans actors,” she said, adding that there should be no more pressure on cis actors to stay away from transgender roles than there should be for trans actors to stay away from cisgender roles. The real problem, she said, was that transgender actors must be given more acting opportunities in general, regardless of the role.

Drucker went on to speak about the relatability that that they've tried to infuse into the show.

“One of my favorite moments,” she confessed, “is when Maura goes out with her family for the first time, and has to use the bathroom. While in there, another woman notices her but… an older woman steps in and tells this woman off.”

That moment spoke about the relatability of the show, she explained.

“No matter how comfortable you are, you still have that moment where you’re afraid someone will clock you.”

Drucker shared how, while the show strives to be amusing, it helps shine light on a community that faces such criticism from society.

That criticism had been felt by the show’s own cast, including herself as she even recalled the disparagement from others for keeping her birth name.

“It’s so hard not to be defined by the outside world,” she said, mirroring the character Maura’s struggle in fitting in with her family. “It’s an uphill battle because things are so clearly stacked against us.”