This image released by Universal Pictures shows Marsai Martin, left, and Issa Rae in a scene from "Little."
Photo: Universal Pictures/AP
Photo: Universal Pictures/AP

'Little' screenwriter Tracy Oliver responds to backlash over transphobic joke in film

“Little,” a comedy about a 40-year-old woman stuck in a 13-year-old’s body, has received positive reviews since it was released a couple of weeks ago, but one joke from the movie is being criticized

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In the opening sequence of the movie, Regina Hall’s character, Jordan, mistakes a young girl in the hallway of her building for a boy. When the child’s mother corrects her, Jordan replies, “Oh, he’s transitioning.”

Moviegoers quickly pointed out the moment, calling it insensitive and transphobic. Many directed their frustrations toward Tracey Oliver, the lead writer of the project. 

Oliver took to Twitter to respond to the backlash. She said she did not write the joke, and that it was added after her draft was submitted. 

“As a feature writer, when you hand your draft(s) into the studio, you have no control over what ends up on screen,” she said. “Often, you're elated. Other times, you're disappointed. I did not write that particular joke and was disappointed to see it. It was insensitive and unnecessary.”

In response to another tweet, Oliver said, “It was disheartening and mean spirited. I've been wrestling with speaking up or not, but I had to. That joke doesn't represent who I am at all.”

Oliver went on to say in a separate reply to Danielle Solzman, a transgender movie critic, that she was shocked to see the joke in the final cut.

Filmmaker Lena Waithe, a vocal LGTBQ advocate and openly gay woman, came to Oliver’s defense on Twitter. She said Oliver is an ally and explained TV scripts can also be edited after a draft is turned in. 

The film’s studio, Universal Pictures, has not responded to the criticism. The film, which also stars Marsai Martin and Issa Rae, was released in theaters April 12.

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