TV + Movies

7 TV Shows With Authentic Trans Representation

Thankfully I’m born in an age where slowly, transgender writers are crafting our own narratives for the screen. Representation is important no doubt, but the authenticity matters more. I’ve compiled over here, a list of my top 7 TV shows where the portrayal of transgender characters felt wholesome.

Watching transgender characters on screen is exhausting for the most part. Even the films and shows that don’t intend to mock or vilify us end up doing exactly that. Thankfully I’m born in an age where slowly, transgender writers are crafting our own narratives for the screen. Representation is important no doubt, but the authenticity matters more. I’ve compiled over here, a list of my top 7 TV shows where the portrayal of transgender characters felt wholesome.


This show deserves all the praise that it got and then some more. Mature themes like sex, addiction, and Machiavellianism are dealt with a lot of sensibility, while not shying away from getting dark. The trans-girl character, Jules, is never advertised as a “trans girl”. Rather, she is a very fleshed out, multi-dimensional character, who just happens to be trans.  All of the dialogues feel very human. A trans-person, this articulate and honest about their experiences, felt refreshing. This was only possible because writer Sam Levenson was constantly engaging with Hunter Schaffer about their transness and how she would like to portray Jules. What’s more, they even had a trans consultant for the show. This show is also one of those rare instances where it looks at the ugliness of addiction and is unflinchingly honest about how difficult recovery can be.


What Euphoria laid bare for television today, Skins did all that and more back in 2007. It deals with really messed up and unlikeable teenagers, who are bent on their hedonistic pursuits. There are multiple queer characters in the show and two possibly trans-masculine characters. They never really talk about their transness, but hint at it. This is also the first time I had seen “binding” on screen. Props to the show for highlighting mental health issues and eating disorders at a time when it was taboo to do so.


Glee might have been the biggest show at its time of release to be unabashedly gay. What’s more, it was a big budget primetime major network musical. I imagine that Ryan Murphy would scream at his writers every time they wrote new material – “MORE GAY!” While Glee did have trans characters, it’s important to acknowledge its flaws. The jokes often target marginalised communities and then tries to redeem the characters who made them. There are unhealthy doles of body shaming, queerphobia and racism. It’s difficult at times to understand if Glee is problematic in parts or whether it is trying to highlight societal issues. Personally for me, what started out as a ground-breaking show turned into a hot mess after the third season. Bad writing and inconsistencies make it a nightmare for even the most ardent fans. The first season will however, keep you alternating between hysterical sobbing and maniacal laughter bouts.


This one’s probably Mr. Murphy’s redemption, after making problematic shows like Glee to others like Nip/Tuck which were outright transphobic. Pose broke numerous records, including having the largest transgender cast in television history. Two of the writers for the show – Our Lady J and Janet Mock are trans, with Mock having director credits on a few episodes as well. A testament to why minority stories need to be enacted and told by people from within the community, Pose can be a difficult watch. It tells the story of queer chosen families, trying to thrive amidst the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and 90s USA.


This one’s for sci-fi lovers. The Wachowski Sisters used racially diverse characters to tell a grand story that spanned multiple nations. In addition, the trans character in the show was modelled in part after Lana Wachowski’s own experiences as a trans woman. Despite showing monumental promise, the show got cancelled after season 2.

Sex Education

Sex education felt incomplete till season 2, as it was a show with high expectations of being politically correct (PC). It covered most of the bases of representation apart from having trans characters. Thankfully season 3 was worth the wait. Dua Saleh plays ‘Cal’, a non-binary rebellious teen, who doesn’t shy away from voicing their needs in a world designed to deny them. Their on-screen character really resonated with me. There comes a point where they are getting intimate with a straight boy who can’t acknowledge the queerness of the relationship. They decide to not go ahead with him as that would mean having to be ok with their transness being invisibilised. It feels nice to see a marginalised character choosing to be alone, instead of settling.

Her Story

If long form TV shows spanning multiple seasons feels like a lot of commitment, this show is perfect for you. With an average run-time of 9 minutes, Her Story tells a powerful tale in just an hour, spanning six short episodes. What’s more – you can stream it for free on YouTube. It’s created by transwomen and shows the work and dating lives of two trans-women, living in LA.

Television and films have a long way to go in terms of accurate minority representation. I’m just glad that the harm caused by decades of problematic transgender portrayal is steadily being rectified. A part of this change comes from audiences being fed up of the same tropes and caricatures and wanting better. The future is slowly unfurling for trans creators and writers. I’m just happy that I have to fight a little less than my trans ancestors to have my voice heard.

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Debbie is a trans non binary person who has been on a journey of self love for the past 4 years. She designs and helps brands grow for a living. When not working, they are spoiling their cat baby/ drinking copious amounts of tea/ watching horror. Often all at the same time.
Debbie Das

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