Trans on the Screen
The proliferation of trans characters in film and television roles may be at an all time high. Also increasing, though not at such a breakneck speed, is the number of opportunities for trans actors.
I’d like to say this post was an exhaustive rundown of all that was available or coming soon in terms of Trans characters or actors on screen but (a) it would be too long for this space; and (b) I’d surely miss something. So anyway, here are some highlights.
The big two in terms of ongoing programs are Transparent, which starts shooting Season 2 next month – presumably setting up a late fall release date – and Orange is the New Black which drops Season 3 on June 12. If you’ve been on a walkabout in the outback for a few years, the former is about a late-transitioning father of 3 adult children, packaged in a framework of stereotypical Jewish family tropes that would make Woody Allen proud, and the latter is set in a women’s prison in which one of the prisoners is a trans woman played by Laverne Cox. I HOPE I don’t have to explain who Laverne Cox is.
Coming up on television are several items of interest. There’s “All that Jazz”, an unscripted “reality” series featuring 14 year old trans teen Jazz Jennings which is on the way on TLC. There’s “Becoming Us” on ABC Family, another reality series revolving around a 17 year old boy and his transitioning father. Discovery Life beat both of those to the virtual airwaves with “New Girls on the Block” which premiered yesterday (for those of you who have that channel). This one follows six trans women. There’s also still the pending decision by E! on whether or not to move forward with the Jenner series that was discussed. Speaking of that, Diane Sawyer will take 2 hours on April 24 to interview Jenner for an ABC special.
Then there are the scripted roles. There’s Tom Phelan as Cole on ABC Family’s “The Fosters” – a trans actor playing a trans role. Glee is on the way out and taking with it the marvelous character of Unique Adams along with recently-out Coach Beiste, meanwhile, the aforementioned Ms Cox is shooting a pilot for a potential CBS legal drama. The show, called “Doubt,” would (like on OITNB) feature a trans character who’s an important part of the cast irrespective of her trans status. Trace Lysette who had a supporting role on Transparent also has a role in a fall pilot called “The Curse of the Fuentes Women.”
Even more creative, long-running soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” has introduced a big lot twist – revealing that Maya Avant, a major character n the show for the last two years, is actually transgender (post transition). [note that the linked article includes a false claim – Maya is not, in fact, the only trans character on cable/broadcast scripted television]
As for the big screen, there’s a ton of buzz lately about Boy Meets Girl. The film, which features trans actress Michelle Hendley portraying a trans character, was showered with film festival praise including seven best film awards, and hits DVD on April 28.
Beyond all that, there’s this report from KPCC about the new fad among casting directors to cast trans actors, and not just for trans parts.
Any other current or upcoming trans-related projects I’m missing? Feel free to link them in the comments.
Photo by: ClintJCL