by Connor Van Ligten
Emmett Preciado has been getting a lot of work lately. Between his appearance on ABC's The Good Doctor and his recurring role on Freeform's Good Trouble, Preciado has been busy and is setting an example for aspiring trans actors.
A transmasculine actor, singer, and songwriter, Preciado plays both transgender and cisgender characters. The process for those is very different, however. While playing a cisgender male character is relatively straightforward for Preciado, playing a transgender character is a more personal experience for him.
“When I'm preparing to play a transgender character, I like to dig into my past and really dig into the feelings that I experienced at the beginning of my transition and all throughout my whole journey," Preciado said. “And really feel it again and allow me to become part of the character."
Preciado revealed that he likes to take aspects of his experience transitioning that are relevant to the characters he is playing and put that into his performance. However, he emphasized that this is a challenging endeavor as an actor because the experience of each transgender person is often wildly different from the next.
For his The GoodDoctor appearance, Preciado played a transmasculine character who was pregnant and had a brain tumor, forcing his character to make an extremely difficult decision to keep the baby or remove the tumor which would require terminating the pregnancy. Preciado praised how his character was written.
“Honestly, I think they did a really good job. I know that they brought in and consulted a lot of transgender people, and they specifically consulted with transgender men who have been pregnant," Preciado said.
One thing Preciado hopes gets a little better in the entertainment industry is the overreliance on portraying the trauma and suffering of trans characters. Preciado believes that if the entertainment industry focuses too much on portraying the challenges and tribulations of transgender people, it fails at normalizing the transgender community.
If you can cast a trans role and put a trans person in it, that's great, but don't just make all their dialogue about being trans. It's important to normalize the transgender community, but putting trans people in these roles where they're just there to talk about being trans, it's great to have representation but it doesn't normalize the community.
Preciado's own transition was a challenging time for him. Growing up in a Mormon family in the Midwest, Preciado's parents struggled to accept his gender identity and attraction to women for years. Preciado was kicked out of his home, disowned, and did not talk to his parents for years after coming out as being attracted to women and later coming out as trans.
However, he and his parents are on good terms now, and they have fully come to accept him as their son. They're more supportive than ever.
“Very recently, my dad told me, 'You know, you proved me wrong, and I'm very proud of you, I'm sorry that I didn't believe in you, I just wanted to protect you,'" Preciado said. “Now they're on board. It's been quite the journey."
Preciado also has his parents' full support in his acting endeavors. But Preciado isn't just an actor - he's also an aspiring musician.
“I've been a singer-songwriter since I was like, 9-10 years old when I started writing music, but I've been singing my whole life," Preciado said. “When I transitioned my voice dropped, very quickly, and so I struggled with maintaining my singing voice and it's become a whole new instrument, so I'm learning how to control this new instrument and to develop my range and control it."
Preciado is excited for the next step on his musical journey. He's not ready to release music yet, but he'll get back in the studio soon.
“Now that my voice is settling, I've been working on rewriting a lot of my songs and transposing them so that I can sing them in my new range and I have been working with a voice coach to help me with developing my new voice," Preciado said. “And the goal is ultimately to rewrite all of my songs and then record them and just get back into doing music because music is honestly my first passion. Music saved my life, I mean I know that's what everybody says but, honestly, music has saved me more times than I can count and I want to share it with the world."
Preciado hopes that all aspiring transgender entertainers won't give up on their dreams. He tells those worried about discrimination to not be dissuaded.
“Your gender identity and sexual orientation will not hinder you, they will not hold you back," Preciado said. “The truth is that if you are capable and you have the skills, and you are a good fit, you will get work."
Visit the Emmett Preciado website to learn more information.