11 TV series featuring positive trans representation

To celebrate how far we’ve come, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite examples of positive trans representation in television.

A split screen of three characters who offer positive trans representation in TV. From left to right, screen caps of Sophia Bursett (Laverne Cox) in Netflix's Orange is the New Black, Viktor Hargreeves (Elliot Page) in Netflix's Umbrella Academy, and Elle Argent (Yasmin Finney) in Netflix's Heartstopper.
Image: Netflix

In the grand scheme of television history, trans representation is a relatively new phenomenon. However, as attitudes towards the greater LGBTQ+ community have begun to shift (thanks to the hard work of trans women of colour who have campaigned for our rights for years), we are seeing more and more positive trans representation in film and television than ever before. 

To celebrate how far we’ve come, we’ve compiled a list of 11 of our favourite examples of positive trans representation in television from Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black to Yasmin Finney in Heartstopper

Shameless (2011-2021)
Debuting in 2011, Shameless told the dark, dirty, and often unsavoury story of the Gallagher family. While the series has featured LGBTQ+ characters since its first season, namely Cameron Monaghan’s character Ian, the series didn’t see its first transgender character until its seventh season, in the form of Trevor. Portrayed by Elliot Fletcher, Trevor is a trans masc character who enters the series as a love interest opposite Monaghan’s character. Throughout his tenure on the show Trevor introduces Ian to a number of other trans characters, as well as schooling the Gallaghers on proper trans terminology. While Trevor’s character was cut from the series after its eighth season, the character was pivotal in introducing trans identities to an audience that otherwise might not have been exposed to them.


Heartstopper (2022-present)
For a show centred around queer identities, it is perhaps unsurprising that Netflix’s Heartstopper prominently features positive trans representation in the form of Elle Argent. Portrayed by Yasmin Finney, who currently portrays Rose in the latest instalment of the Doctor Who franchise, Elle is a trans student attending an all-girls secondary school after transitioning. While the series hints that Elle suffered from bullying at her old all-boys school when she began her transition, the character is a shining example of trans joy as Elle struggles with mundane things like her first crush, applying to art school, and aiding her hapless group of queer friends as they navigate their teenage years. 

Umbrella Academy (2019-present)
The hit television series based on the comics of the same name introduced a trans character to their cast in a particularly unique way. The series stars Elliot Page both before and after his transition, which was announced between the show’s second and third seasons. When Page’s character Vanya appeared in Season 3, he was quick to announce that he wished to be called Viktor, a nod to Page’s own transition that occurred between the seasons. Page has spoken extensively on the work the team behind Umbrella Academy conducted behind-the-scenes to allow Viktor to transition alongside him. “I’ve never seen a trans person in real-time transitioning onscreen and becoming himself in a story where that’s part of the story, but it’s not the point of the story. It’s in the background for a lot of the story, which I think is perfect and exactly right,” said Page about his role in the show’s latest season.

Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)
Laverne Cox’s role in the 2013 series Orange is the New Black is likely one of the earliest examples of positive trans representation in television history. The series, based on the story of a women’s prison, heavily features Cox’s character, Sophia Burset, a transgender inmate in the prison. Cox received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her role in the series, making her the first ever trans person in history to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category. 

Pose (2018-2021)
Based on the Ballroom scene of 1980’s New York City, a scene dominated by trans women of colour, it is unsurprising that Ryan Murphy’s Pose is stacked with positive trans representation in the form of characters like Blanca (MJ Rodriguez), Angel (Indya Moore), Elektra (Dominique Jackson), Lulu (Hailie Sahar), and Candy (Angelica Ross). Throughout the series, these trans women face a series of struggles, including racism, transphobia, and the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis. That being said, the characters also bask in the light of queer joy, celebration, and found family. 

Euphoria (2019-present)
This hit series has fans chomping at the bit for the premiere of its long-awaited third season, due in no small part to the ongoing love story between Zendaya’s character Rue Bennett, and Jules Vaughn, a trans character portrayed by trans actress Hunter Schafer. Jules’ trans identity is recognised throughout the series but is never presented as an issue for the characters. Instead of spending the series battling transphobia, Jules is given the space to face the everyday struggles that all teenagers face. 

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-2020)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power creator ND Stevenson has always been vocal about his trans identity and the ways in which it impacts his work. While Stevenson made a name for himself while working on comic series like Lumberjanes and a run of Thor comics for Marvel, She-Ra marks the artist’s first television debut. Stevenson’s series has been hailed for its LGBTQ+ characters, including those with trans identities like the “non-binary shape-shifting mercenary” Double Trouble.

Supergirl (2015-2021)
It’s no secret that superhero franchises like Marvel and DC have taken over the world with their films and television series in recent years. What also isn’t a secret is that these projects have frequently lacked plentiful and positive LGBTQ+ representation. The CW series Supergirl changed all that when they introduced the character of Nia Nal, played by Nicole Maines. When Maines joined the cast of Supergirl in 2018, she made history as the first-ever trans superhero on television. 

Sense8 (2015-2018)
Sense8 has always been praised for its LGBTQ+ inclusion since it debuted in 2018. When it comes to trans characters on the show, the most remarkable is Nomi Marks, played by Jamie Clayton. In addition to being trans herself, Clayton’s character was written by a trans woman, Lana Wachowski, and the series was directed by a trans woman, Lilly Wachowski – though Lilly came out after the show had wrapped. Sense8 is yet another example of positive trans representation on television wherein the characters’ transness is never used as the driving force of their storyline. 

RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-present)
While Drag Race is not scripted like the rest of the shows on our list, it’s impossible to underestimate the impact that the series has had on positive trans representation on television. In recent years, trans contestants have featured on nearly every single season of every single franchise, including trans masc, trans femme, and non-binary identities. Drag Race reserves space for contestants to discuss their identities, their struggles and the ongoing threat of transphobia in the world at large. That being said, the series similarly saves space for trans contestants to celebrate trans joy, with a significant number of the show’s winners being trans, including Kylie Sonique Love (All Stars 6), Willow Pill (Season 14) and Vanessa Van Cartier (Holland), amongst others. 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018-2021)
Despite originally identifying as non-binary, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina character Theo Putnam (Lachlan Watson) later comes out as a trans man to his friends. Theo’s trans identity is celebrated by his fellow castmates and is consistently re-affirmed throughout the series. Watson made history as one of the youngest non-binary actors to ever be cast on a television series when they joined Sabrina in 2018. The series later highlighted Theo’s same-sex relationship with Robin Goodfellow (Jonathan Whitesell) without perpetuating any tired or offensive transphobic narratives. 

That concludes our list of positive trans representation in TV – happy viewing!

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