If there’s one thing that will forever be true about television, it’s that the medium loves to follow social trends. A few years ago you couldn’t turn on a TV show without seeing a gay character and we, of course, know that right now Hollywood’s TV producers are clearly having a Black woman moment (shout out to Kerry, Viola, Taraji, Sanaa, Tracee, and Gabrielle). But there’s another trend creeping upon us ever so subtly and that is the rise of the transgender actress.
By many accounts, Laverne Cox was the jumping off point. Though her storyline is one of many on Orange is the New Black — and not necessarily the most visible — inclusion of such a unique perspective in a wildly successful Netflix series was the perfect combination to turn the trans-advocate into an overnight success. It made others want to follow suit as well, as not long after Amazon Studios brought Transparent to life, a scripted series about the lives of an LA family who finds out their father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, is transgender. And now reality TV — for better or worse — is hopping on the trend. Just last month TLC debuted I Am Jazz, a reality TV series about a 14-year-old transgender girl and her family, and you’re, of course, familiar with I Am Cait, the documentary series about Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caityln. Now it’s rumored even the Georgia peaches want a piece of the pie with stories circulating that transgender model Amiyah Scott is joining the cast of Real Housewives of Atlanta.
While now all of these series and actresses are novel, the question that lingers is whether these storylines and characters are just a fad that will fade out like the ’90s black sitcom or if one day it will become so common to see transgender men and women in TV roles it’s not even news. For the former, a lag already exists as all of the transgender icons currently discussed are men who have transitioned into women, leaving stories on the flip side of the coin to be desired. The same is true across the board from transgender models like Isis King and Geena Rocero to media mavens like Janet Mock, which only further adds to the burning question of whether the agenda in television is simply to follow what’s popular or establish an environment of true inclusion.
What do you say Clutchettes, are you here for the boom in transgender television? Do you think it’s here to stay?
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