Media portrayals of transgender people

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The media portrayals of transgender people refers to the varying and evolving ways in which the mass media depicts or portrays the transgender community.



Title Author Trans/cis author Release date Trans characters Gender
Beauty Queens Libba Bray N/A 2011 Petra Woman
Being Emily Rachel Gold N/A 2012 Emily Woman
Bloodhound Tamora Pierce N/A 2009 Okha (aka Amber) Woman
Boy Meets Boy David Levithan N/A 2003 Darlene Woman
Breakfast on Pluto Patrick McCabe N/A 1998 Pussy Woman
Eva Luna Isabel Allende N/A 1987 Mimi Woman
f2m: the boy within Hazel Edwards, Ryan Kennedy Cis, Trans 2010 Finn Man
For Today I Am a Boy Kim Fu Cis 2014 Peter Woman
Freakboy Kristin Elizabeth Clark N/A 2013 Brendan & Angel Genderfluid & Woman, respectively
Full Fathom Five Max Gladstone N/A 2014 Kai Pohala Woman
Gracefully Grayson Amy Polonsky N/A 2014 Grayson Sender Woman
A Harvest of Ripe Figs Shira Glassman Cis 2015 Micah Man
I am J Cris Beam N/A 2011 J Man
If You Could Be Mine Sara Farizan Cis 2013 Pavreen Woman
Kafka on the Shore Haruki Murakami N/A 2002 Oshima Man
Kitchen Banana Yoshimoto N/A 1988 Eriko Woman
The Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. Le Guin N/A 1969 Estraven and others Agender
Luna (Peters novel) Julie Anne Peters N/A 2004 Luna Woman
Nevada Imogen Binnie N/A 2013 Maria and others Women and men
Parrotfish Ellen Wittlinger N/A 2010 Grady Katz-McNair Man
Pantomime Laura Lam Cis 2013 Micah Man
Poison Study Maria V. Snyder N/A 2004 Commander Ambrose Man
Rainbow Road Alex Sanchez N/A 2005 B.J. Woman
A Safe Girl to Love Casey Plett Trans 2014 Carla and others Women and men
The Secret of Lost Things Sheridan Hay Cis 2006 Pearl Woman
Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurre Derek Landy Cis 2017 Never Genderfluid
Stone Butch Blues Leslie Feinberg Trans 1993 Jess
Trans-sister Radio Chris Bohjalian N/A 2001 Woman
Two Boys Kissing David Levithan N/A 2013 Avery Man
The World According to Garp John Irving N/A 1978 Roberta Muldoon Woman


Title Author Trans/cis author Release date Trans characters Gender Notes
Becoming a Visible Man Jamison Green Trans 2004 Jamison Green and others Men, primarily
Conundrum Jan Morris Trans 1974 Jan Morris Woman
Excluded: Making Feminism and Queer Movements More Inclusive Julia Serano Trans 2013 Women and men
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us Kate Bornstein Trans 1994 Kate Bornstein
Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Kate Bornstein Trans 2010 Kate Bornstein
Just Add Hormones: An Insider's Guide to the Transexual Experience Matt Kailey Trans 2005 Matt Kailey Men Autobiography
A Queer and Pleasant Danger Kate Bornstein Trans 2012 Kate Bornstein Woman Autobiography
Redefining Realness Janet Mock Trans 2014 Janet Mock Woman Autobiography
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders Jennifer Finney Boylan Trans 2013 Women and men Autobiography
Trauma Queen Lovemme Corazón Trans 2013 Lovemme Corazón and others Women and men Autobiography
Whipping Girl Julia Serano Trans 2007 Women, primarily Manifesto


DC Comics introduced Alysia Yeoh as the first major transgender character written in a contemporary context in a mainstream comic book.[1] She is a fictional character created by writer Gail Simone for the Batgirl ongoing series, and is Barbara Gordon’s best friend, and a transgender woman. They went on to premiere the first ever transgender wedding in Batgirl #45.[2] Marvel Comics has followed suit, with writer Al Ewing adapting popular character Loki to have a fluid gender identity.[3]

Transgender themes are also found in manga. One notable example is Wandering Son, which deals with issues such as being transgender, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty. Gary Groth of Fantagraphics Books said in an interview he licensed Wandering Son because "it's not a typical choice for a manga title published in the U.S. and it's not typical subject matter for comics in general,"[4] saying that the subject is "perfectly legitimate ... for literature—or comics."[4]

Web comics have also made efforts to include trans characters, with award-winning[5] series Questionable Content adding trans woman Claire Augustus in comic 2203.[6]


Title Release year Trans characters Gender Notes
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective 1994 Lt. Lois Einhorn Woman Trans woman played by cis woman, referred to in film as a "man"; villain.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994 Bernadette Bassenger Woman Trans woman played by cis man (Terrence Stamp).
Anger Management 2003 Galaxia the prostitute Man
Boy Meets Girl 2014 Ricky Woman Trans woman played by trans actress.
Boys Don't Cry 1999 Brandon Teena Man Dramatization of real-life events surrounding Brandon Teena's murder. Trans male character played by a cis woman.
Breakfast on Pluto 2005 Kitten Woman Based on the book of the same name.
The Carmilla Movie 2017 LaFontaine Genderqueer character Nonbinary character, using they/them pronouns
The Crying Game 1992 Dil Woman Trans woman played by Jaye Davidson, a cis man.
Dallas Buyers Club 2013 Rayon Woman
The Danish Girl 2015 Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe Woman Trans woman played by Eddie Redmayne, a cis man. Based on the novel of the same name.
Dog Day Afternoon 1975 Leon Woman Trans woman played by a cis man. Based loosely on a true story.
Every Day 2018 A Non-binary Based on YA novel of the same name. A is a genderless being who wakes up every day in a different person's body. Played by multiple actors of different genders.
Every Day 2018 Vic Man Based on YA novel of the same name. Trans man played by a trans man.
A Fantastic Woman 2017 Marina Vidal Woman Trans woman played by Daniela Vega, a trans actress.
Girl 2018 Lara Woman Trans woman played by Victor Polster, a cis man.
Just Charlie 2017 Charlie Lyndsay Woman Trans girl played by a cis boy.
Nånting Måste Gå Sönder (Something Must Break) 2014 Ellie/Sebastian Woman
Orlando 1992 Orlando Woman and Man Orlando changes genders.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975 Dr. Frank N. Furter Man, transvestite
Romeos 2011 Lukas Man
Soldier's Girl 2003 Calpernia Woman Trans woman played by cis man. Fictionalized account of murder of Barry Winchell.
Tangerine 2015 Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra Woman Trans women played by trans actresses.
Tomboy 2011 Mickael Boy
Transamerica 2005 Bree Woman Trans woman played by cis woman.
The World According to Garp 1982 Roberta Muldoon Woman Trans woman played by cis man.


Title Trans characters or personalities Gender Notes
Becoming Us Carly Lehwald Woman Reality show focusing on a family whose father has come out as a trans woman.
The Bold and the Beautiful Maya Avant Woman The first US daytime soap opera to feature a trans woman character as a series regular.
The Bold and the Beautiful Nick Man Maya's mentor. The actor, Scott Turner Schofield, who is trans in real life, became the first openly transgender actor in Daytime television with this recurring role.
Brave New Girls Jenna Talackova Woman Reality show focusing on aspiring model Jenna Talackova.
Chicago Med Denise Lockwood Woman A transwoman, who is played by Alexandra Grey, who is a trans woman herself.
Coronation Street Hayley Cropper Woman Played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, a cis woman.
Degrassi: The Next Generation Adam Torres Man Teen trans man, played by a cis woman.
Doctor Who Cassandra Woman Tells Rose that she was "a little boy" in the episode "The End of the World".
Faking It Noah Man Played by Elliot Fletcher, a trans man.
The Fosters Cole Man Played by Tom Phelan, a non-binary trans person.
The Fosters Aaron Man Played by Elliot Fletcher, a trans man.
Glee Unique Adams Woman Teen trans woman, played by cis man
Glee Sheldon Beiste Man Adult trans man, played by cis woman
Gray's Anatomy Casey Parker Man Adult trans man, played by a trans man: Alex Blue Davis
Gwaith/Cartref Macsen Issacs Male Teenager transitioning from female to male.
Hit & Miss Mia Woman
Hunter x Hunter Alluka Zoldyck Woman Constantly they referred to her as "it" and "he". Her brother, Killua, constantly reminds people that she is a girl. Strong, not afraid to stick up for herself, but still a cute and lovable character portrayed right by most of the fandom.
Hunter x Hunter Kite Genderfluid A man in their past life, Kite was reincarnated as a little girl later in the series and is struggling with their gender identity. It is still unknown whether they consider themselves to be a male or female, or genderfluid.
Hunter x Hunter Neferpitou Genderless
I Am Cait Caitlyn Jenner Woman Reality show focusing on the gender transition of Caitlyn Jenner.
I Am Jazz Jazz Jennings Woman Reality show on transgender teen Jazz Jennings and her family.
The L Word Max Sweeney Man A trans man played by a cis woman.
My Transsexual Summer Maxwell Zachs, Sarah Savage, Drew Ashlyn Cunningham, Lewis Hancox, Rapheal Fox, Donna Whitbread, Karen Gale Woman A 2011 British documentary series.
The OA Buck Vu Man Teen trans man, played by a trans man.
Orange Is the New Black Sophia Burset Woman A trans woman played by Laverne Cox, a trans woman.
Orphan Black Tony Sawicki Man A clone of a cis woman.
Pretty Little Liars Charlotte Drake Woman A trans woman played by a cis woman.
Rise Michael Hallowell Man Teen trans man played by a non-binary actor.
RuPaul's Drag Race Various Drag Queens A reality show about drag queens; features two trans women as contestants.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman Berg Katse Genderfluid Katse is an intersex mutant created from the synthesis of male and female twins in utero, they were created by the alien leader of evil organisation Galactor.
Sense8 Nomi Marks Woman A trans woman played by Jaime Clayton, a trans woman.
Shameless Trevor Man A trans man played by Elliot Fletcher, a trans man.
Soul Eater Crona Unconfirmed
South Park Mr. Garrison Man Went a sex change at the start of Season 9, later reverted to a male in Season 12.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jadzia Dax, Ezri Dax Woman Dax has changed genders throughout their lives.
Supergirl Nia Nal(Dreamer) Woman Season 4 regular played by Nicole Maines, a trans woman.
The Switch Sü Phan and others Women and men All transgender characters are played by transgender actors.
TransGeneration Various Women and men A documentary series.
Transparent Maura Pfefferman Woman A trans woman played by a Jeffrey Tambor, cis man.
Twin Peaks Denise Bryson Woman A trans woman DEA agent played by a cis man.
Zombie Land Saga Lily Hoshikawa Woman

Web series[edit]

Title Character Gender Notes
Carmilla LaFontaine genderqueer character who uses they/them pronouns[7] nonbinary character played by a nonbinary actor; unconfirmed for a while in-series
Like As It Is Ross Grant Agender character who uses they/them pronouns
The Grey Tarmac Road Leone Jinjur Genderfluid character who uses they/them, she/her and he/him pronouns played by a trans actor
Paranatural R.J. Non-binary character who uses they/them/their pronouns
Pride: The Series Liev Man Trans man played by a transgender actor: Scott Turner Schofield
The Adventures of Jaime Watson (And Sherlock Holmes) Stanley Hopkins Man Trans man played by a trans man, introduced in season 2


Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a trans woman, played by both men and women on the stage. La Cienega in Bring It On the Musical is a transgender teen character.[8] Individual productions alter the identity of characters, such as Angel in Rent who is a drag queen in some productions and a trans woman in others. Adam is a play based on the true story of trans man Adam Kashmiry and his journey from Egypt to Scotland.[9]

Video games[edit]

Early examples include Birdo in Super Mario Bros 2, where the manual asserts that Birdo is a boy who "thinks he is a girl",[10] and Poison in Final Fight, who was censored in the English localization.[11] More recent examples include The New Kid in South Park: The Fractured but Whole where the player character can optionally be portrayed as transgender.


Against Me! is an American punk rock band formed in 1997 in Gainesville, Florida, by singer and guitarist Laura Jane Grace. The band's album Transgender Dysphoria Blues deals with gender dysphoria, following Laura Jane Grace's gender transition and coming out.[12][13]

Music videos[edit]

The music video for Hayley Kiyoko's "One Bad Night" stars a trans woman playing a trans woman. The music video for "Sexy Dreams" has the artist Spoonboy playing a trans Batman.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kane, Matt (April 10, 2013). "'Batgirl' Comic Introduces Transgender Character". GLAAD.
  3. ^ Armitage, Hugh (October 24, 2013). "Al Ewing will explore Loki's fluid sexuality, gender in new comic". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Aoki, Deb (March 11, 2010). "Gary Groth Talks: Fantagraphics' New Manga, Moto Hagio at Comic-Con". Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  5. ^ "WCCA Awards". Retrieved September 13, 2008.
  6. ^ Jacques, Jeph. "Hubbert's Peak".
  7. ^ Simpson, Ellen. "Carmilla FAQ". anamatics. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Hetrick, Adam (August 15, 2012). ""It Ain't No Thing": Bring It On: The Musical Cheers On Broadway's First Transgender Teen Character". Playbill. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  9. ^ Alanna, Eloise (August 24, 2017). "The Egyptian girl who became a Scottish man". BBC. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Super Mario Bros. 2 manual. Nintendo. 1988. p. 27. He thinks he's a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth. He'd rather be called Birdetta
  11. ^ Sheff, David (1999). Game Over. Cyberactive Media Group Inc. p. 225. ISBN 0-9669617-0-6. With Capcom USA, Phillips's team edited some of the grislier games that came in from its Japanese parent company, although Capcom's own censors weeded out the most offensive touches...When a Capcom USA representative suggested that it was tasteless to have the game's hero beat up a woman, a Japanese designer responded that there were no women in the game. 'What about the blonde named Roxy?' the American asked. The designer responded, 'Oh, you mean the transvestite!' Roxy was given a haircut and new clothes.
  12. ^ Ehrlich, Brenna (July 2, 2013). "Against Me! Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace Announces Solo Shows". MTV. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  13. ^ Martins, Chris (November 5, 2012). "Against Me! Promise 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' Will 'Absolutely Destroy'". Spin. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  14. ^