Trans Nonbinary 'Hamilton' Actor Alleges Discrimination, Retaliation in Suit

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday October 14, 2021

A transgender, nonbinary Black actor alleges in a lawsuit that they faced discrimination while working on "Hamilton," and says they were dropped from the show in retaliation for seeking a gender-neutral dressing room, BuzzFeed News reports.

The suit alleges that the actor, Suni Reid, "was repeatedly misgendered and mocked for their gender presentation during performances of the show," BuzzFeed detailed. "In dressing rooms, male cast members allegedly derided them for wearing dresses, at times calling them 'auntie' and 'Madea.'"

"In June, while performing in the Los Angeles cast, Reid requested a gender-neutral dressing room be made available," the article continued.

"This request was driven by the bullying and attacks that Mx. Reid had faced in the male dressing rooms at Hamilton in the past, as well as Mx. Reid's knowledge that other cast members would welcome having such a space available as well," the suit recounts.

The show's management declined to provide a gender-neutral dressing room, offering instead to curtain off part of an existing dressing area.

Reid's suit also claims that they were "physically threatened" by another cast member, Playbill said.

"During the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Reid voiced a number of these incidents via Instagram as the theatre industry as a whole reckoned with a wave of similar accounts that brought to light systemic oppression and racism," the Playbill account added. "The claim says that these posts were later used by the production 'to rationalize suspending the renewal of Mx. Reid's contract,'" which the suit characterizes as a retaliatory move against them.

"Ultimately, a gender-neutral space was created after Rory O'Malley, who plays King George, offered up his private room," the article continued. By then, BuzzFeed says, Reid was pursuing legal action; in September, they were told their contract was not going to be renewed, which the suit claims was an act of retaliation.

The production's management disagrees, Playbill reports, claiming that "Reid was offered a contract that addressed their requests."

The suit follows allegations of anti-trans discrimination leveled at the producers of another Broadway musical "Jagged Little Pill." As previously reported at EDGE, a number of that show's cast have spoken out and even quit the production in protest of what they say was discrimination and mistreatment.

Forbes reported that a nonbinary former cast member, Nora Schell, said in a Sept. 24 tweet that "they were 'intimidated, forced and coerced' by high-level members of the production team to put off urgent care for their Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in order to not inconvenience the show."

Another nonbinary former cast member, Iris Menas, "claimed to 'have PTSD' from the higher-ups' 'traumatizing' behavior," Forbes added.

"Jagged Little Pill" has also been roiled by the revelation that one of the play's characters — Jo, played by Lauren Patten — "was originally written to be gender non-conforming, but the creators changed the character to be a cisgender woman when it came to Broadway and denied ever intending the character to be nonbinary," Forbes said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.