‘Little’ Screenwriter Speaks Out Against Film’s ‘Insensitive’ Transphobic Joke: ‘I Did Not Write It’

"I've been wrestling with speaking up or not, but I had to," Tracy Oliver wrote on social media.

Screenwriter Tracy Oliver spoke out on social media about her latest feature, “Little,” in the wake of backlash over a transphobic joke made in the Regina Hall and Issa Rae-starring comedy. The movie has been at the center of controversy since its April 12 release due to a joke towards the beginning in which Hall’s ruthless tech mogul Jordan confuses a young girl for being a young boy. When the child’s mother tries to correct Jordan, she snaps back, “Oh, he’s transitioning?”

The transphobic joke has been called out by many film critics and moviegoers, and now Oliver says she too found the bit “mean-spirited” and “insensitive.” The “Little” screenplay is credited to both Oliver and director Tina Gordon. Oliver came forward on Twitter to distance herself from the joke, writing she never wrote the transphobic moment into her draft of “Little.”

“As a feature writer, when you hand your draft into the studio, you have no control over what ends up on screen,” Oliver wrote. “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.”

Oliver went on to call the joke “disheartening” and said she was “shocked” to see it in the finished movie. The screenwriter added, “I’ve been wrestling with speaking up or not, but I had to. That joke doesn’t represent who I am at all.”

“Little” is the latest project from Oliver, who got her start as an actor, writer, and producer on Issa Rae’s beloved web series “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Since then, Oliver has gone on to work closely with “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, writing the scripts with him for “Barbershop: The Next Cut” and “Girls Trip,” both directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Barris served as a producer on “Little.”

IndieWire has reached out to Oliver’s representative for further comment.

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