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Transgender in film and television


Transgender in film and television

This article lists many films whose primary character(s) are transgender. It also includes films of note who have a secondary transgender character.

Film and video

Several movies feature transgender as a central plot element, or well known movies in which a transgender/transsexual character plays a minor but important role:

Female to Male

A drama film based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a transsexual man who was raped and murdered by his male friends after they discovered he was female assigned at birth (FAAB). The movie received lots of media attention when its star Hilary Swank, who played Brandon, won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

A documentary film about the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a transsexual man from the southern United States.

  • Flying with One Wing (2003):

Revolutionary Sri Lankan movie – a transgender man, Manju, is discovered after being taken to a clinic after a car accident. Film contains themes about sexism, homophobia.

  • Funny Kinda Guy (2005):

A documentary following the singer Simon de Voil's transition to manhood, encountering the sacrifice of his female singing voice and his discovery of true love. Directed by Travis Reeves, a man who has also transitioned.

Yuji, the novelist's assistant, is a transgender man.

  • Boy I Am (2006):

A documentary that explores antagonism in the lesbian community as a result of the increased visibility of transgender men.

A comedy about young feminists who spread their message through public art and vandalism. Aggie (played by Lauren Mollica) is transgender, and the only man allowed in the group. He bonds with the main character, Anna, and develops an apparent crush on her.

  • Romeos (2011):

A drama and tragicomedy which revolves around the romantic relationship between Lukas, a 20 year old gay trans man who is transitioning from female to male, and a cisgender gay man named Fabio.

Male to Female

Written, directed by, and starring Ed Wood, the film is a docudrama about cross-dressing and transsexuality, and is semi-autobiographical in nature. Wood himself was a crossdresser, and the film is a plea for tolerance. It is widely considered one of the worst films ever. However, it has become a cult film due to its low-budget production values and idiosyncratic style.

  • Early John Waters Films [between 1964–1981]:

All of his earlier films contained a transvestite actor, Harris Glen Milstead known as Divine playing several female (and some male) roles in Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Polyester, Roman Candles, The Diane Linkletter Story, Hairspray, among others.

Martin's (a character played by Helmut Berger) drag performance as Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel at his grandfather's birthday celebration, notorious at the time of the film's release, has since become an iconic image in cinema history.

Former Army private from the Bronx undergoes surgery and hormone treatments in Denmark in 1952 to transition from male to female.

Starring Raquel Welch in an off-beat role.

A different take on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story in which the main character's transformation also involves a sex change.

Al Pacino's lover, played by Chris Sarandon, was a pre-operative transsexual. Pacino's character was robbing a bank to pay for the operation.

The four masters dress in women's clothes and coerce their male victims, clothed in wedding dresses, into same-sex marriage.

A documentary film featuring interviews with sex reassignment surgeon Leo Wollman and various transsexuals.

A film about a transsexual murderer

In this film, the character Roberta Muldoon (played by John Lithgow in an Oscar-nominated role) is a transsexual former football player.

Angela Baker (portrayed by Felissa Rose in the first and fourth installments and Pamela Springsteen in the second and third), the killer and main character of the series, is a trans woman.

Luis Molina and Valentin Arregui are cell mates in a South American prison. Luis is found guilty of immoral behaviour and Valentin is a political prisoner. To escape reality Luis invents romantic movies, while Valentin tries to keep his mind on the situation he is in. During the time they spend together, the two come to understand and respect one another. Molina is more accurately transgender, if not transsexual.

Ted Levine plays a serial killer named Buffalo Bill who thinks he is and tries to be a transsexual.

In this soap opera parody, Montana Morehead (Cathy Moriarty), the show's star and scheming antagonist, is revealed, on live television, as a transgender woman.

A drama film. The plot revolves around a trans woman named Dil (played by the Oscar-nominated Jaye Davidson).

Tilda Swinton portrays Orlando, a character whose sex changes after 2/3 of the film.

In the miniseries, based on Armistead Maupin's series of novels, Anna Madrigal (played by Olympia Dukakis), the landlady of the San Francisco apartment building in which the story is centered is revealed, in the concluding episode, to be a trans woman.

Cult Australian film starring Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce as drag queens and Terence Stamp as a trans woman.

  • A Transgender Path (1995):

A documentary short about the experiences of Jo Ryan, a transgender student at the University of New Hampshire who came out in the early 1990s.

A British comedy film about two childhood friends who are reunited, after one of them has undergone sex reassignment surgery.

A Belgian film about a young child, Ludovic, who believes that he was born in the wrong body and should have been a girl.

Features a sub-plot involving the male-to-female transsexual character named Judy (Peter Outerbridge), who struggles with family rejection throughout the film and who has a crush on, and ultimately begins a romantic relationship with, lesbian separatist Frances (Ann-Marie MacDonald), who owns the gay & lesbian bookstore in which the film's central character Maggie (Karyn Dwyer) works. Judy also becomes friends with Maggie's somewhat sexually repressed mother, Lila (Wendy Crewson)

A movie by Pedro Almodóvar focused on Manuela, a nurse whose son is struck by a car and killed. The son's father is a transvestite. Agrado, a friend of Manuela, is a transsexual prostitute.

An off-Broadway cult musical adapted for cinema about a transgender German glam rocker (John Cameron Mitchell) recounting the story of her betrayal by her former boyfriend.

A South Korean film starring the transsexual actress Harisu.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as a sheriff investigating the death of a local transsexual.

A drama film about a midwestern factory worker and closeted trans woman who stuns her wife of 25 years revealing that she wishes to have sex reassignment surgery. It starred Jessica Lange and Oscar-nominated actor Tom Wilkinson.

Features Gael García Bernal as a transsexual actor.

Another film by Neil Jordan. Stars Cillian Murphy as a young preoperative male to female transsexual during the Irish Times of Trouble. An orphan, she searches for her mother. Lighter than The Crying Game.

A comedy-drama starring Felicity Huffman, who plays Bree, a transsexual woman. It was nominated for two Academy Awards in 2006: Felicity Huffman for Best Actress, and Dolly Parton for Best Original Song.

Based on the true story of Burt Munro, who broke the motorcycle land speed record. In the film, Munro met a transsexual motel clerk, Tina Washington (played by Chris Williams), who helps Burt on his way to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for Speed Week.

A Danish film about the love between a (pre-operative) male-to-female transsexual and a lesbian.

A comedy film in which Sofía Vergara plays character of Loridonna, a sultry transsexual woman who seduces unsuspecting Maurice (Ray Romano) when he and Dave (Kevin James), two desperate meat salesmen, knock on her door. A call from a suicidal friend interrupts signing the contract, so Maurice and Dave offer to drive her to her friend's house, hoping to close the deal. There, troubles multiply as they meet an arms dealer (Kim Coates) - who outs Lori to Maurice just before they got intimate, then hit-men working for a gregarious mob boss (Burt Reynolds).

  • Red without Blue (2007):

A documentary featuring identical twins, one of which transitions to female during the film.

  • Citulja za Eskobara (2008) Serbian movie includes MTF named Borko becoming girl named Lela in the meanwhile, as the story goes, with not so much focus on her transition...
  • Mora The Explorer (2010):

A children's series animated shorts, based on the children's book series of the same name, spanning, 3 episodes, film short (in discussion with PIXAR/ DreamWorks and Sony pictures). The plot revolves around a cat named, Mora The Explorer a Male to Female Trans woman becomes a young girl again when they discover a magical world to fight against Anti-Violence in their kitchen. Starred, Voice-over-Narrated by International OUT! celebrity (Author, Actress, Activist, Model, Producer, Director, Recording Artist) trans woman Jenna Fox (played by the Out-nominated Jenna Fox).

  • Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives (2010)

A rape/revenge "transploitation" film about a trio of trans women who avenge themselves on three men who brutally attack them and kill two of their friends.

  • "Gun Hill Road" (2011)

A drama about a recently released ex-convict coping with his estranged wife and son, who is going through transition from male to female.

  • The Forgotten DJ/ Model (2011):

A drama/Bio film. The plot revolves around an International celebrity trans woman named Jenna Fox (played by the Oscar-nominated Jenna Fox).

  • Jane Friday (2011):

A supernatural film series, spanning, 13 episodes, three feature films. The plot revolves around an male to female trans detective, named Jane Friday, with a talking black cat as a partner. Starred International OUT! celebrity (Author, Actress, Activist, Model, Producer, Director, Recording Artist) trans woman Jenna Fox (played by the Out-nominated Jenna Fox).

  • The Skin I Live In (2011) Spanish: La piel que habito

A Pedro Almodóvar film in which a young man named Vicente, portrayed Jan Cornet, is kidnapped by Antonio Banderas' character, undergoes forced sex reassignment surgery and becomes a woman named Vera, portrayed by Elena Anaya.

An upcoming drama film about Lili Elbe, based on the book The Danish Girl, starring Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron.

Depictions of both

A comedy film adaption of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it features a protagonist, Richard Jacks (Tim Daly), who swaps genders frequently due to a perfume-based chemical potion.

An Australian comedy about a boyfriend and girlfriend who swap bodies and have to live as each other.

A romantic comedy film starring Samaire Armstrong and Kevin Zegers, who swap bodies and have to live as each other.

A boy is discovered to be a Zerophiliac, a fictitious genetic disorder, which switches the gender of the protagonist whenever they orgasm.

An 11-episode anime adaptation produced by AIC Classic based on the manga by Takako Shimura. The story depicts a transgender girl named Shūichi Nitori, and her friend Yoshino Takatsuki, a transgender boy. The series deals with issues such as transsexuality, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty.


  • Bad Girls: Arun Pamer - transsexual character who served time in Larkhall prison.
  • Bones: In "The He in the She," Brennan and her team work to solve the murder of a transgender pastor named Patricia.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The fifth season episode "Ch-ch-changes" focuses on illegal sex reassignment operations in the male-to-female transsexual community, and features several transsexual characters.
  • Degrassi: Adam Torres (played by Jordan Todosey) is a transgender character introduced into the show in the tenth season.
  • Glee: Alex Newell plays Wade Adams (aka Unique), who is transgender.
  • Hit & Miss: Chloë Sevigny plays a transgender woman, Mia. Mia is a contract killer who finds out that her ex-girlfriend, from before transitioning, is dead and that she was pregnant and had their child.
  • Hollyoaks: In 2010, the character Jason Costello was introduced as the British soap opera's first character to have gender identity disphoria.
  • Just Shoot Me: Jenny McCarthy plays Brandi, formerly Burt, an old college friend of Finch's, in the episode "There's Something About Allison."
  • The L Word: Moira becomes Max, a transsexual man. He becomes aggressive and unpredictable during his transition due to the hormones he is taking, and Jenny then dumps him because she does not want to be in a relationship with a man.
  • NCIS: In the Season 1 episode "Dead Man Talking," the female person of interest in a stakeout turns out to be the male murder suspect.
  • One Piece: Mr. 2 Bon Kurei (better known as Bon Clay in English adaptations) is an okama, or transgender agent, of the criminal organization Baroque Works. Another character, Emporio Ivankov (aka Iva) is the "Queen" of Kamabakka Queendom (Kamabakka literally means "full of transvestites") and possess the powers of the "Horu Horu no Mi" devil's fruit, which grants the user the ability to create and control special hormones that can affect anyone they strike by however the user desires. One of his techniques is Emporio Onna Hormone (エンポリオ・女ホルモン, literally translated as Emporio Female Hormone) which are special female hormones that when injected into a male, causes said male (including Iva himself) to be transformed complete into a female (Iva uses it to change the sex of male opponents and even himself to female)
  • Orange is the New Black: Sophia Burset (portrayed by Laverne Cox) is an inmate who serves time for credit card theft. Before transitioning, she was known as Marcus.
  • Queer as Folk: Later seasons featured a minor transgender character named Kiki (usually described by other characters as "Kiki the waitress, formerly known as Kenny the Waiter").
  • South Park: Herbert Garrison, an elementary school teacher, known for a time as Janet Garrison.
  • "TransGeneration" (2005): An eight episode documentary series of four transgender college students.
  • Twin Peaks (1990): David Duchovny portrays an FBI agent cross dresser who purportedly picked it up while working undercover.
  • Waterloo Road: In 2011, British School-based Drama Waterloo Road introduced fictional transgender character, 'Martin Dunbar' played by Matt Greenwood in Series 7, Episode 2 of the BBC Drama Series. The episode features around the 'coming out' and coming-to-terms story line of the pupil. Kacey Barry, played by Brogan Ellis, is forced to come to terms with her gender issues in series 8 (episode 18, man of the match") when Barry outs Kacey as a girl on the football pitch after Zoe kisses her/him.

See also

Transgender portal

External links

  • Nederlands Transgender Film Festival
  • Transgender Films
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