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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

A Black Trans Actor Claims They Were Dropped From the 'Hamilton' Cast After Requesting a Gender-Neutral Dressing Room

A discrimination suit against the show's producers was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday.

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The Richard Rodgers Theatre, home of the musical “Hamilton,” appears closed during Covid-19 lockdown in New York on May 13, 2020
The Richard Rodgers Theatre, home of the musical “Hamilton,” appears closed during Covid-19 lockdown in New York on May 13, 2020
Photo: Evan Agostini (AP)

Suni Reid, a Black transgender cast member of the touring production of “Hamilton,” has filed a discrimination suit against the show’s producers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles.

According to USA Today, Reid alleges that their contract with the show wasn’t renewed after they asked for a gender-neutral dressing room. Their need for a gender-neutral space stemmed from repeated physical threats and misgendering within dressing spaces for male cast members–something that the suit also accuses the show’s producers of failing to act upon.

From USA Today:

One of Reid’s lawyers, Lawrence Pearson, said in a statement to USA TODAY that “Hamilton” has been a public “beacon of diversity” with a commitment to social justice and harmony.

“Behind the curtain, however, the company’s management will force out a Black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question,” Pearson said in the statement. 

Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesman for “Hamilton,” told USA TODAY in a statement that Reid was “a valued cast member” for more than three years, and denied the charges in Reid’s complaint.

“We offered them a contract to return to ‘Hamilton’ with terms responsive to their requests,” Brown’s statement said. “We deny the allegations in the (complaint). We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni. Since the shutdown, our organization has taken care of our community. We have treated Suni with the same respect and consideration as all the company members of ‘Hamilton.’

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In case you’re not familiar (and no shade if you aren’t), “Hamilton” is a Broadway smash about the life and legacy of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton. The musical is known for its hip-hop-inspired sound and color-blind portrayals of various old white dudes central to America’s history.

CBS News reports that Reid was cast in the show after they graduated college in 2017 and played ensemble roles and principal ones, like Aaron Burr and George Washington during their tenure. The complaint filed with the EEOC on Wednesday said that Reid first asked management of the Los Angeles production of the show for a gender-neutral dressing room in May of this year.

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However, Reid claims the producers agreed to hang a sheet across a portion of the main dressing room instead. According to CBS, Reid claims that when they told the producers that the sheet wasn’t acceptable, the show retaliated by suspending their ongoing contract negotiations last month.

More from CBS News:

According to the filing, even after actor Rory O’Malley, who plays King George, agreed to give up his private dressing room, Reid was still allegedly excluded from performances. “Hamilton” executives also allegedly expressed concern over Reid’s Instagram posts requesting larger inclusivity in the industry, even though Reid said the posts “had been known to the Company for months.”

“Hamilton’s attacking response in labeling Mx. Reid as ‘problematic’ not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes, it betrays the Company’s reflexive retaliatory impulse in response to Mx. Reid daring to question Hamilton’s social equity bona fides and speaking up against mistreatment based on their race, sexual orientation/LGBTQ+ status, gender, and gender identity,” the filing said.