Why Positive Trans Representation Matters
We live in a world increasingly connected by media. Because of this, the way media portrays different people from different backgrounds and identities greatly shapes the way people view the world. For trans and gender non-conforming people, media portrayal has been lacking, or at times even problematic.
Historically, portrayals of trans and gender non-conforming people in TV and film have mostly fed into negative stereotypes, which is harmful because it reinforces existing prejudices and bias against the trans community as a whole. It affects the way people outside the trans community perceive transgender individuals, and it can also adversely affect the way trans people see themselves.
Because of this, positive trans representation is extremely important. It shows transgender and gender non-conforming people around the world that their identities and experiences are valid, and they are not alone. Positive representation can also help fight existing stereotypes and prejudices against the trans community worldwide, helping people understand that transgender people from different backgrounds have can be whoever they want to be, and can have positive and healthy relationships with the people around them.
In the case of media, particularly on TV and in movies, seeing a character on screen that shares one's identity and experiences can be eye-opening and inspiring, giving someone insight into an identity that they maybe didn't even know they had.
Even as the TV and film industry become increasingly diverse, members of the trans community still struggle to get into the industry. Similarly, even as representation of trans and gender non-conforming people have recently risen, these roles are usually not portrayed by actors who are actually trans, which can feed into the misconception that transmasculine individuals are just "women in men's clothing". This is why it's also important for transgender characters on TV and films to be played by transgender actors.
Because most of us are stuck at home for the time being, we've compiled a list of the 7 best transmasculine characters on TV (played by actors who are actually trans)!
1. Cole (The Fosters)
Cole is a transgender man who, after coming out to his family, is kicked out of his house and is forced to live in a foster home for girls, just because he was assigned female at birth. Even as a recurring character in the series, we get insight into his struggles as a trans man before and during his transition. Cole's story highlights the very real struggles trans people face today, like chest binding, misgendering, getting access to trans healthcare, and getting kicked out of one's home.
2. Aaron (The Fosters)
Aaron, played by Elliot Fletcher, is also a recurring character on The Fosters. He's one of the love interests for Callie, one of the show's main characters. The show explores how forcing gender roles on a child can be harmful, especially for transgender children. Later in the show, we also get glimpses of the complex relationship between Aaron and his parents, years after he leaves home after coming out as transgender to them. Other issues the show tackles in Aaron's storyline include the distress of being outed as trans against one's will, and the difficulties of dating as a trans person.
3. Casey (Grey's Anatomy)
Alex Blue Davis plays Casey Parker, who is introduced to us in Season 14 of the show. He served in the US military as a cybersecurity specialist before leaving to pursue a career in medicine. During his run on the show, we see Casey as more than just a transgender man -his background, skills, and experience make him an extremely capable and compassionate character who isn't defined solely by his identity. The show also explores the real consequences of a lack of legal gender recognition and the mental health issues faced by veterans.
4. Theo (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Theo Putnam is a young transgender man played by Lachlan Watson, who is non-binary. In the show, he struggles with his identity and the harassment he faces from his classmates because of not fitting into traditional gender roles. Later in the show, Theo comes out to his friends and family, who support him. His story explores the struggles of a young trans person, especially when it comes to coming to terms with one's identity, bullying, misgendering, and coming out.
5. Buck (The OA)
Buck is a Vietnamese-American transgender man. Played by Ian Alexander, his story doesn't revolve around his being trans - Buck is another teenager in high school that happens to be trans. Buck's story highlights some of the realities of being a young transgender man. As a transgender teenager, Buck struggles with his relationship with his father, starting hormone replacement therapy, and with everyday life (plus being part of the OA's chosen five).
6. Michael (Rise)
Michael is a transgender man played by Ellie Destautels, a non-binary actor. The show goes beyond focusing on Michael's identity, emphasizing his love for singing and theatre. Because of this, Michael's character highlights the fact that trans people are more than just their identity, and explores the simplicities and complexities that surround being trans in everyday life.
7. Taylor (Billions)
Taylor Mason in Billions is the first non-binary character that uses they/them pronouns on TV. Asia Kate Dillon (who also uses they/them pronouns), the actor that portrays Taylor, is also the first non-binary actor to be cast in a major television show. In the show, Taylor is an incredibly smart and capable intern at a hedge fund. Later in the show, Taylor faces some serious ethical dilemmas surrounding money and power, which add to the depth and complexity of their character.
Did you like this content? If you did, check out our blog post on 3 trans influencers to follow!