Transgender characters often get a bad rap on TV.
In the past, they've been used as the butt of jokes or written cartoonishly, as if they're not real people. Trans women were often fetishized and trans men and non-binary people were non-existent.
Thankfully, that's changing now! There are a number of full-fledged transgender characters on TV. Sometimes they encounter bigotry or bullying, but other times they're dealing with the same issues as other people on the canvas of a given show.
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Check out our top 13 transgender characters on TV! Then hit the comments and add your faves.
Not familiar with some of these characters? Watch TV online here on TV Fanatic so you can get to know them!
Cole - The Fosters
Cole was mainly featured in a group home for troubled teens and there was a silly storyline about him overdosing on testosterone. But his story on The Fosters highlighted some of the issues transgender people face. Notably, Cole was placed in a home for girls because his legal gender didn't match his gender identity and had issues with some of his housemates because of his identity. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to see a realistic transmasculine character on prime time!
Jasmine - Good Trouble
Good Trouble continues the groundbreaking representation of LGBT people that The Fosters was known for with, among others, the character of Jasmine, a trans woman who faces discrimination on a regular basis and who has a bogus charge on her record as a result of trying to defend herself from harassment. Jasmine is sympathetic, funny, and is treated seriously as a trans woman by the writers.
Sophia - Orange is the New Black
No list would be complete without Sophia! Sure, Orange is the New Black is about women in prison, but in this show the prisoners are the heroes (some of the time, anyway), and Sophia is one of the most positive people on the show. Her character's presence allowed the show to explore transphobia both in and out of prison, and these negative experiences didn't wear her down. Instead, Sophia continued to be a friendly, kind character whose portrayer became known as a transgender activist and actress.
Nia - Supergirl
Nia is the first transgender superhero on television! Her coming out/origin story on Supergirl Season 4 Episode 11 was well received by fans and critics alike and was made doubly brilliant because of the conflict between her and her cisgender sister thanks to a prophecy about powers being passed from mother to daughter.
Frankie - Better Things
Better Things Season 1 Episode 10 contained the revelation that Frankie wanted to use the boys' bathroom and might be transgender. Although this thread was not further explored, it showed the way transgender issues might naturally come up when raising kids.
Theo - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Riverdale spin-off Chilling Adventures of Sabrina features a recurring character who is transgender. Theo, born Susie, is a friend of Sabrina's. Theo doesn't fit neatly into any gender box and endures bullying and harassment at the hands of members of the football team as a result, but he doesn't let this dampen his adventurous, courageous spirit. In addition, Theo is more non-binary than many transgender characters on TV, demonstrating that there is a place for people who don't identify strictly as male or female in contemporary media.
Noah - Faking It
Noah is not only transgender, but identifies as gay, defeating the inaccurate belief that transgender people are all attracted to members of their birth gender. Shane, who is gay, initially struggled with his attraction to Noah when he learned Noah was not assigned male at birth but overcame his discomfort and the two remained together.
Aaron - The Fosters
The Fosters went more deeply into trans issues with Aaron than they did Cole. Since Aaron was trans and not out and when he was arrested on The Fosters Season 5 Episode 14, the inhumanity of the prison system was even worse for him because of his gender identity. But this was far from his only storyline -- he dated Callie and interacted with her and her family a lot in stories that weren't always directly about his gender identity.
Nomi - Sense8
Nomi is an out transgender woman who is happily married to another woman -- and her story is about her hacking abilities, not her gender identity. This is refreshing because so many stories about transgender characters are about their struggles as transpeople.
Casey - Grey's Anatomy
Casey is a transgender intern who once revealed that he has a criminal record for hacking because he hacked into the DMV's computers to correct his gender identity on his license when the DMV didn't. Most of the time he is shown in work situations and is a funny, capable member of the team who is underrated.
Antoine - Queen Sugar
Although Antoine is a minor character, whenever he appears he helps give a positivity boost to Ralph Angel and their genuine friendship is fun to watch. In addition, Antoine is one of only a few transgender characters of color on TV, making his presence on Queen Sugar doubly important.
Adam was a transgender teenager who transferred to Degrassi High to escape transphobic bullying at his old school and fit in well with the rest of the teens at Degrassi. Unfortunately, the show chose to kill him off in a car accident, which was a loss for viewers as well as his friends at school.
Trevor - Shameless
Trevor has the distinction of being Shameless' first transgender main character. He has an on-again off-again relationship with Ian and has had a positive effect on the Gallagher family (if such a thing is possible!), even getting Ian to reconcile with Monica before her death.