Screenwriter Tracy Oliver Explains How A Trans Joke Ended Up In The Movie Little

April 24, 2019  |  

The Premiere Of Universal Pictures 'Little' - Arrivals

Source: Albert L. Ortega / Getty

If you saw Little, you probably thought it was a cute film, with hilarious moments sprinkled throughout. But there was one joke that some folks didn’t think was all that funny.

This is not so much of a spoiler if you haven’t seen the film. At the beginning of the movie, when we’re learning what a terrible person Regina Hall’s character is, there is a scene where she confronts her neighbor and her child in the hallway. She mistakes the young girl for a boy. And when the mother corrects Hall’s character, she responds saying, “Oh, he’s transitioning.”

The joke was used to show that her lack of respect for people runs so deep that she would insult not only a child but a marginalized on at that. But it didn’t go over so well. Not only could it have been interpreted as particularly cruel, but the joke was cumbersome. According to Slate, it was so bad, that reviewers of the film called it out in more than one review.

So in the grand scheme of things, you have to wonder was it really worth it to use the platform of a feature film, marketed to children and shown in theaters worldwide to punch down at trans children?

Up until this week, no one attached to the project had responded to the criticism until someone asked Tracy Oliver, the screenwriter for the film, outright on Twitter.

When Oliver shared an article profiling her rise in Hollywood, titled: “How Tracy Oliver, the screenwriter behind “Girls Trip” and “Little,” is changing Hollywood” someone responded with this tweet:

Oliver explained that she had nothing to do with that moment.

Lena Waithe, another tv producer, actress and writer and member of the LGBTQ community stepped up to defend Tracy.

The issue here is two-fold. The thought that someone would take a script with a Black woman’s name on it and use words to further oppress a marginalized group is particularly disturbing. Black women are just finding a place and an amplified voice within Hollywood; so it’s painful to think that someone would warp her words into something so meanspirited. Secondly, there are Black women in and of the trans community. And within both the Black and Trans communities, they are often the most vulnerable members. So this offense was particularly egregious in a movie that was supposed to uplift all Black women. Hollywood and the people who’ve been granted to access to Hollywood spaces have a lot of work to do. 

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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