Cis-Sexism is “the belief or assumption that cis people’s gender identities, expressions, and embodiments are more natural and legitimate than those of trans people” (Writer & Activist, Julia Serano). The statement that a role “was open to either gender” implies that there are only two genders, when in fact “gender refers to an individual’s personal and social identity as a man, woman or non-binary person” (Stats Canada). To learn more about the spectrum of gender identities, please watch Why Gender Pronouns Matter and check out outACTRAto’s Guide for Working with Queer Performers.

Ableism refers to “attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities” (Ontario Human Rights Commission). Suggesting that some Casting Directors ask for a slate that includes clear shots of a performers hands to check if “you have all your fingers” normalizes the idea that it’s okay to exclude people who are living with limb loss and limb difference from certain roles, Whether or not having all fingers is integral to the story. To learn more about ending stigma and eliminating bias against people living with disabilities, please check out Holland Bloorview’s “Dear Everybody” Campaign, and learn about the Psychology of Ableism here (2:38 – 8:06)

Racist Bias is a form of implicit bias, whichsuggests that people can act on the basis of prejudice and stereotypes without intending to do so” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). The assertion that “sometimes the best person does not get the job”, pointing to the “overcorrection that is happening” as “ethnicity” is “at the top of client’s minds right now” strongly suggests that an implicit bias exists, where one race may be subconsciously favoured above others during the casting process. To learn more about Implicit Bias and how you can work towards challenging your own implicit biases, click here. To learn about Race bias in hiring, check out the Outsmarting Human Minds Podcast episode, “race bias in hiring: when both applicant and employer lose”.

Accent Discrimination occurs when a person’s accent, which is usually related to their ancestry, ethnic origin or place of origin is the reason that they have been denied employment, service, housing, or is otherwise discriminated against because of their accent (Ontario Human Rights Commission). The response “well then how can we want BIPOC?” to the client who said, “oh we don’t want any accents” implies that being BIPOC and having an accent somehow go together, which is untrue. Not all people with accents are BIPOC and not all BIPOC folks have accents. Anyone who is an immigrant to Canada may not speak English with a “Standard Canadian” accent but, in a multicultural country populated by immigrants, how do we define a “Standard Canadian accent” (or a “Standard American accent”, for that matter) and why does society associate specific accents with specific “types” of people – privileging accents that conform to a biased “standard” and excluding those that do not? To learn about how accents influence our judgements, check out the Outsmarting Human Minds Podcast episode, “hear me out: accent bias”. To read a discussion about Hollywood’s Accent Discrimination problem, click here.