It’s hard to say if the Emmy success of such shows as Transparent and Orange Is the New Black reflects the current conversation about trans awareness in the country, or helped enable it. But on the heels of Caitlyn Jenner’s widely discussed speech upon accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at last night’s ESPY Awards, some of this morning’s nominees are making the connections.
“That (speech) was amazing,” says Transparent creator Jill Solloway. “It was so beautiful that these moments of this zeitgeist-world change-sea change of a civil rights movement is actually underway for trans people and we get to enjoy it as part of our day-to-day work, to come to work and know that we’re changing the world.” Soloway adds that Jenner’s post-transition visibility only helps her further the storytelling on her Emmy-nominated comedy series. “Maura doesn’t have to be perfect anymore because of people like Caitlyn Jenner,” she says. “We’re not doing ‘Trans 101’ anymore, we’re not having to introduce the world to the concept of a trans woman. Now Maura can be a little bit more human. She can make mistakes more, she doesn’t have to be exemplary, so that’s exciting as writers for us, to allow her to make some bad turns.”
As for whether there’s a two-way street in the sense that Transparent and shows like it can affect a wider societal view, Solloway is hopeful. “It’s just starting,” she says. “I think there are some people who are like, ‘We’ve reached the trans tipping point.’ I think we’ve reached the trans tipping point of America and the world knowing a little bit more about trans people, but really, trans people need to be brought to the process at every level. There should be more trans writers, more trans directors, trans actors, trans creators. People need to be able to get through the very difficult life process of transitioning and then be able to have access to the actual positions of power and not just be the subject of fascination—to really create their own narrative and writing and directing form their own point of view. That’s going to take place over years and that’s the real push right now.”