13 Transgender celebrities who are changing television

These talented Transgender celebrities are breaking boundaries and changing television through their work and activism.

Split screen of Transgender television trailblazers: Elliot Page (far left), Laverne Cox (left), Brian Michael Smith (right), Josie Totah (far right)
Image: Via Instagram

Transgender celebrities are fortunately becoming more prominent in the world of television today. Each of these actors has represented Trans identities on-screen and paved the way for better representation as a result. From superheroes to doctors, here is our list of the inspiring folks who have graced our screens.


Elliot Page


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Elliot Page has been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and representation. Since coming out in December 2020, he has continued to remain in the headlines and fight for what he believes in. Page has starred in beloved films such as Juno and Inception as well as starring in the Netflix Original Series, The Umbrella Academy.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Page speaks about the cathartic feeling that coming out has given him. “I’m comfortable. I feel a significant difference in my ability to just exist—and not even just day to day, but moment to moment.”

Elliot is set to make his television return in the third season of The Umbrella Academy where he plays the most powerful superhero, Vanya Hargreeves. The show has not announced whether his character will also come out as Trans.


Alex Blue Davis


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Alex Blue Davis appeared on shows such as NCIS and 2 Broke Girls before landing his role as Casey Parker in the hit television series Grey’s Anatomy. Parker is the series’ first openly Transgender character making him one of our thirteen Transgender celebrities who are changing television.

His character has a beautiful coming out scene with Chief Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) where he discloses with pride, “I’m a proud Trans man, Dr Bailey. I like for people to get to know me before they find out my medical history.” 

In an interview with GLAAD, Alex stated, “What’s great about this role is that he can do so many things and he is so many more things than just being Trans and that’s what I’m excited about people seeing.”


Nicole Maines


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Nicole Maines starred in Royal Pains as well as campaigning for Trans rights before landing her breakthrough role in Supergirl. She plays Nia Nal, a distant relative of legion member Dream Girl in the show. As a result of Maines taking on this role, she became the first Transgender superhero on television.

Nia’s Transgender identity is powerfully incorporated into the show, most notably in her scene with James (Mehcad Brooks) where she states, “You may not know this about me but I am a Transgender woman.”

When asked what real representational progress looks like to her, Nicole told Variety, “I think it’s being able to see yourself on television, it’s being able to see yourself as a superhero. It is not being afraid to exist as you do.”


Laverne Cox


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Laverne Cox’s masterful portrayal of Trans woman and hairdresser, Sophia Burset, in Orange is the New Black really opened the world’s eyes to Trans characters and the institutional struggles they often face. It comes as no surprise, then, that she made history as the first Trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category.

Among her other impressive credits such as Inventing Anna, The Mindy Project and Dear White People, Cox is also the driving force behind Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen, a Netflix documentary based on depictions of the Trans community on screen over the last 100 years.


Jen Richards

Jen Richards is known for her work on the web series Her Story on which she served as co-producer. She later played Violet in the show and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her performance. The show follows two Transgender women and the trials they experience in the world of dating and their professional lives.

In addition to her impressive resume, she has had roles in Better Things, Nashville and Tales of the City.


Elliot Fletcher

Elliot Fletcher played flamboyant, proud and openly Tans man Noah in Faking It. Since then, he has gone on to play Trevor, a young queer activist in Shameless and Aaron, a less open Trans man in The Fosters

Aaron’s storyline in The Fosters was respectfully explored, from his initial coming out to Callie (Maia Mitchell) to his experience as a Trans person in prison: “Putting someone in solitary because you don’t know what to do with them? That’s not a solution… It’s dehumanising.”

Elliot was asked by Screen Crush about how he feels his characters are contributing to the increase in representation of Transgender characters and he states, “I want to make sure that every kind of Trans experience is shown in TV and film because there is no one Trans experience.”


Jamie Clayton


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Jamie Clayton is most notably recognised for her role in Netflix’s Sense 8. In the show, Clayton plays an openly Transgender character named Nomi Marks who develops the ability to hack into the minds of eight other people around the world.

An avid activist for Trans rights, her roles in television since Sense 8 have also been a positive step towards better representation of Transgender people. She starred in the L Word: Generation Q as Tess Van De Berg, a cisgender lesbian bartender in the show. 

In an interview with Gay Times, Jamie has stated that, “The only difference between a Trans character and a cis character is that cis characters aren’t bogged down in language and dialogue about their gender identity. So in actuality, on any show that you love, any character could be Trans if you want them to be”.


Brian Michael Smith

Brian Michael Smith has built up an impressive acting resume starring in shows such as Gossip Girl, Blue Bloods and After – always playing cisgender man roles. He played his first Trans role in 2017 in a show titled Queen Sugar. He later became the first black Trans male series regular on network television through his portrayal of Paul Strickland in 9-1-1 Lone Star

In an interview with Huffington Post, Smith explains how he feels about his 9-1-1 Lone-Star role: “This is why I feel like I was brought in for the role because I can really pull from some authentic experiences, or even if I haven’t had the experience myself, just a deeper understanding perhaps of what the character might be going through and then filtering it through the lens of his story. That’s what’s exciting for me, that’s been what the work is.”


Josie Totah


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Josie Totah began acting in Disney Channel shows such as Jessie and Liv and Maddie. She later starred in Glee and Champions before coming out as Transgender in 2018. She became the lead character, Lexi, an openly Trans high school student in the Saved By The Bell reboot in 2020 which has just finished its second season. Totah also serves as a producer on the show.

In the reboot of the beloved show, Josie’s character highlights the struggles that Transgender folks can endure in school. One particular storyline explores the presence of Trans women in sports when another Southern California high school faces legal action for allowing a Trans woman on their soccer team. 


Chaz Bono


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Chaz Bono was launched into the spotlight the day he was born, being the son of Sonny and Cher. He has starred in television shows such as The Bold and the Beautiful and Where the Bears Are but his most notable performances are in Ryan Murphy’s television series American Horror Story.

In American Horror Story: Cult and Hotel, Chaz portrays cisgender characters. This was a conscious choice made by Bono after he starred in an indie film titled Dirty. He contacted Ryan Murphy with snippets of his performance and the rest is history. 

Chaz has spoken openly about his approach to acting, most notably in an interview with Time Magazine: “I’m a character actor, and what makes me the happiest is to play somebody who is the farthest from me as possible,” and emphasises his desire to simply exist as a working actor. “It’s a dream I’ve had since I was 14 years old”.


MJ Rodriguez


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Another actor who broke boundaries for Transgender representation in television is MJ Rodriguez who recently made history as the first Trans woman to win a Golden Globe Award. She gained worldwide recognition for her performance in Ryan Murphy’s hit show Pose but before that, she starred in television shows such as Nurse Jackie and films such as Saturday Church.

MJ stars as Blanca Evangelista in Pose, a beloved character who encounters many triumphs and setbacks throughout the show’s run. She is known for leaving the biggest impact on those around her in the show and those who watched the show. MJ is said to have drawn inspiration for her role from her actual mother, which makes her performance even more heartwarming.

Rodriguez recently took home a Golden Globe award for her inspiring performance in Pose and with that, she made history highlighting a positive step towards Trans actors receiving the recognition they deserve


Isaiah Stannard


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Isaiah Stannard starred in films such as Brad’s Status and Party Dress before landing his breakthrough role in NBC’s acclaimed show Good Girls as Ben Marks, an openly Trans teenage boy. In the show, his mother Annie is openly accepting of him and encourages him to embrace his truest self. 

Speaking about the character, show-runner Jenna Bans stated in an interview with GLAAD: “We realised we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender non-conforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story”.


Indya Moore


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Indya Moore starred in films such as Saturday Church and Spot before making their television debut in Pose. They have been described as being “by nature, a really inquisitive person and someone who genuinely wants to see the world be better,” which is a testament to their contribution to changing the world of television.

Moore portrays Angel Evangelista, a Transgender sex worker who joins the House of Evangelista after leaving the House of Abundance with her friend Blanca, portrayed by MJ Rodriguez. Steven Canals, the co-creator of Pose has said that, “Indya’s approach to the character of Angel is always to empathise with her and to really do the work and investigate what this experience would feel like for a human.”

And that concludes our list of inspiring Transgender celebrities who are changing television! Was your favourite actor mentioned?  Let us know!

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