We can all agree that when we become committed to binge watching a television series, we grow attached to each character in the cast. At least for me, after watching a season, or even just one episode, of the TV show Friends, I feel like I am the seventh best friend that supports Joey’s acting career and laughs at most of Chandler’s jokes. This unique connection to the characters emerges because we vicariously live each moment of the tv show with them. Soon enough we know everything about each character and care about them as if they were our real friends.
What if all television shows, and other types of entertainment, used this power that they have to inform us about minorities that we may be unfamiliar with such as transgenders? If television shows provided their viewers with more transgender characters to connect with, their viewers would be exposed to a more personal perspective on transgender lives. Situations like these need to become more prevalent in our society, especially in this day and age.
Unfortunately, according to an article in The New York Times, there are no transgender characters on prime-time broadcast television, and only three transgender characters on cable. The exclusion of transgender characters is unacceptable because it inevitably leads to inequality amongst transgenders.
The Williams Institute approximates that there are nearly 1.4 million Americans who identify as being transgender, but most people have little connection with or awareness of being transgender. By including more transgender characters in popular television shows, a large audience can be reached and educated about this topic.
Today there are some television shows, such as The Fosters, Orange is the New Black, Transparent, and more, that are actually doing this! For example, in Season 4 of The Fosters an intriguing law student who is a transgender boy makes an appearance and helps the main character of the show when she is feeling discouraged.
Its hard not to like this obviously genuine character when he comforts Callie by opening up about his struggles. Scenes like this make all the viewers understand that transgenders are normal people who have feelings and a distinct history.
In this show, Sophia’s history is gradually revealed and the viewers see the upsetting realities that transgender people have to face. These shows have the ability to make their viewers feel empathy for transgenders without even having to meet one in person.
So why does this matter? Because it can inform an endless amount of people, including those who might come from a conservative background and would not be exposed to this information in any other way. Now more than ever, Americans need to be properly informed in order to engage in political decisions so that they can make this world a better place for all. It may seem like a strange way to educate others, but it is effective and very necessary.
To understand more about how to support the transgender population, watch this short video below: