In case you missed it, here’s the moment when three trans women, played by three out trans actresses, casually chatting over lunch, appeared on a prime-time drama on the single biggest television network in the U.S.
Doubt (CBS) was revolutionary in having a trans lead, played by Laverne Cox, but they also had a trans woman in the writer’s room (Imogen Binnie), and trans actors, like myself and Angelica Ross in the scene above, and Alexandra Grey in the following episode (who gives a devastating and powerful must-see performance).
This level of attentiveness was largely due to the creators/showrunners, Joan Rater & Tony Phelan, having a trans son, the actor Tom Phelan. For Joan & Tony, trans people weren’t “other”, they weren’t punchlines, they didn’t exist just as metaphors, or props to trigger male anxieties. They’re real people, whole and complicated people with rich lives that can’t be reduced to the single facet “trans”.
Three friends having lunch and talking over boy trouble, in public, in daylight. This is how we come out of the shadows.
I feel blessed that I have been able to bring all of me
to the work that I do in the media. I think for a while I thought that if I wanted to be mainstream I needed to dumb myself down. It’s really exciting that I don’t have to do that. I don’t think anyone should ever do that, actually. I’ve learned that I can show up and be me. I love pop culture…but I also am an intersectional feminist who is politically engaged. Being able to bring those things as well has been really empowering for me. I think that’s where my power lies right now.
- Laverne Cox for Ladygunn (2016)