Report Shows Increase in Transgender Representation on Television

Mila Madison

The yearly report from GLAAD analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and looks at the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and streaming services for the 2017-2018 TV season.

According to this year’s report, there are 17 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all three platforms. Of those, nine are trans women, four are trans men, and four are non-binary. GLAAD has also noted that this has been the first year they are including non-binary characters.

Of the 329 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on broadcast, cable, and streaming programs, only 5% (17) are transgender, with 9 characters returning from last year’s report. Out of those17 regular and recurring trans characters, thirteen are white, two are black, one is Latinx, and one is API. Three are people living with disabilities, all on streaming original series.


The report also notes that according to a GLAAD/Harris Poll, 84 percent of Americans say they do not personally know someone who is transgender – which means they only learn about trans people through the images they see in the media.

The characters were almost evenly split with nine being regular and eight recurring. Out of all the series regulars, the only clear lead character was Maura on Amazon’s Transparent. With her recently being removed from the show, it remains to be seen how the creators approach their next season. Other transgender characters who won’t be appearing this year were played by Laverne Cox in the CBS legal drama Doubt, and Jamie Clayton, who played a lead trans character on Netflix’s Sense8. Both of those shows were cancelled. With the loss of these two shows, both of which included cutting-edge trans representation, GLAAD is advocating for more series to create lead trans characters that audiences can get to know and love. Looking forward to the 2019 report, actress Nicole Maines was recently cast as the first transgender superhero, Dreamer, on CW’s Supergirl.

“The increase in trans characters year over year is welcome progress. With more characters, programs are beginning to include members of the trans community that have historically been left off screen, including trans men and non-binary people,” said Nick Adams, the Director of GLAAD’s Transgender Media & Representation.

“Now, GLAAD wants to see those characters become integral parts of their series, moving beyond focusing solely on their trans identity and telling stories about them as whole human beings.”